In the summer of 2007 I began working a position in Japan. Going to Japan had long been a dream of mine, a dream I never thought I would realize. Like many foreigners in Japan, I worked as an Assistant Language Teacher. Unlike many foreigners in Japan, I lived in the remote region of Yamagata. In a city of 200,000 people, there were 30 foreigners. Yamagata is not what you’d call “diverse.” However, the area was beautiful and the people some of the nicest I have ever known.
I did a great deal of traveling. Four visits to Tokyo, two visits to Osaka, two visits to Kyoto, one visit to Sendai. They were always a bit too brief, generally under the confines of money or time. Working in Japan meant I couldn’t buy a rail pass, and also having to keep in mind when to return for work as well as budget. I longed to have a chance to visit many more parts of Japan, and leisurely explore.
At the end of my contract I opted not to renew and to return to the United States. San Francisco to be exact. For the past year I have worked at a tech firm under a contract with the hopes of being hired permanently. Sadly, that will not come to pass. As of July 1st my contract ends and I become unemployed.
Counter-intuitively, this is a good thing in many ways. A friend and former coworker has encouraged me to visit for quite some time now. He has vacation in July, so we’ll be doing a bit of traveling together. My most recent ex, a native Japanese woman, will be in Nagoya during my stay. I have a good deal of savings, flights to Tokyo are cheap in July, I can stay with my friend in Chiba and travel for cheap on a J-Rail pass. I’ve been able to put together an extensive month long trip to Japan that would normally cost around $8,000 for a little under $2,000. I will travel to destinations I missed before, visit my friends, my students and former coworkers across Honshuu all while taking a leisurely vacation.
I’ve already fulfilled my dream of going to Japan, but I departed feeling there was something left unfinished. I’ve been granted the chance of a life time. From July 2nd to August 4th I will take the trip to Japan that I have always longed for. Now I’m just counting down the days.