Japan Success Stories

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Japan Success Stories

Postby Rusty Claymore » Mon Jun 29, 2015 11:34 am

Simply, are you in Japan? (or have you been in Japan?)

Or for more of a complex breakdown:

I'm sure anime has inspired many folks to set their sights on the country of Japan, and for many varied reasons. Sometimes, Japan came first. Whatever and however, there's a story (or tutorial, perhaps?) there. Those of us on the road, and those standing where it begins, want to hear those stories.

It's hard to take the road less travelled by, but I have it on good authority that it makes all the difference. So, what was your road like?

Was Japan your goal, or did you just find yourself there? When did you realize it, and what inspired you? Did it just happen to happen?

To be fair, I'll start. Sort of. I haven't actually been successful.

The origin point was most likely years ago during a 10-40 window study in school. Japan took my interest and, unknowingly, I started down my road.
Then came poke'mon. Not that there is much ice to break in your first decade, but that series acclimated me to the style and I soon sought out more. Bleach, Naruto, Trigun... ultimately a list much, much longer than I realized. To put an end to my nostalgia trip before it begins, my favorite genre was slice of life, and soon I was more interested in the life behind the slice. At that point, Japan became my hobby. The food, the language, the clothes, the culture. In my own small way.

After the tsunami I wasn't sure if visiting Japan for pleasure was... proper. But a year after the disaster, I joined a small team headed for Yamamoto-cho in Miyagi prefecture to help the small community with the on-going recovery efforts. Genuinely helping someone out and getting to visit my fairyland... hard to get better, right? Despite traveling halfway across Japan by every kind of train to visit Enoshima, the picturesque island featured in various anime including Tsuritama and Tari-Tari (find 'em, watch 'em, love 'em), I left Japan after 4 weeks feeling... well, like I'd missed something I was supposed to find. Needless to say the office job I returned to had lost whatever shreds of charm it may have had left.

A year later, an opportunity to tag along as an extra had me back in Japan again, this time travelling to places like Gunma, Okinawa, Akihabara, other Tokyo spots, and going solo to return to Yamamoto-cho for a short stint. Again I returned feeling that I'd missed that thing, worsened by the haunting thought that I was farther from it than on the first trip. I can't delve deeper into the nature of this thing without adding too much more to this already lengthy wall of text. It's less nebulous than I make it sound though.

Two trips isn't successful? No. Not for me. At the very least I want to become a welcomed acquaintance, not the bumbling visitor. At the most? A live-in contributor to society. There's still many a mountain and valley between me and the humblest of my goals.

So, what's your story? And even if you (like me) haven't had your "success", what's your road look like?

I, at least, am looking forward to hearing about it.
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Re: Japan Success Stories

Postby Kaori » Mon Jun 29, 2015 4:39 pm

With any luck Yuki-Anne will drop in, since she lives in Japan, though she doesn't seem to be around much these days.

I lived there six years as a missionary teacher at a couple of Christian schools.

This was not ESL, by the way, but teaching subjects as they would be taught at an American school, entirely in English. So English class included grammar, literature, writing, all the things that an English class in the States would include. Also taught history, Bible, and writing classes.

The way that I got there was that as an undergrad in college I heard that there were a lot of opportunities to teach English overseas and that anyone with a degree could do it (you didn't have to have an education degree). I thought to myself that since I was an English major teaching English sounded like something I could do, so my senior year I posted a profile and resume on the ACSI website and was contacted by quite a few schools around the world which wanted to know if I would teach for them (most of these missionary schools require teachers to raise their own support).

I happened to be interested in Japan because, like a lot of people here, I had been interested in anime and manga in high school and college. So the place I was most interested in going to teach was Japan, and I was also interested in getting paid rather than raising all my own support, and it just happened that there was a school in Tokyo offering both of those things. Then I spent the next five years in Okinawa at a different school.

It worked for me, but I really would recommend having a teaching degree.

Also find that compared to other aspects of culture (e.g. social expectations, etiquette, the Japanese way of thinking about things), anime and manga are now . . . completely unimportant. Although I do still read manga, the things that I love about Japan are the people, the culture, and the language. Manga doesn't really come to mind.

I'd also like to say that if the nations of the world are like a class full of children, Japan is the bright and charming child that is loved by everyone. Everyone loves Japanese culture. But it's largely because Japan is so well-off financially and is able to produce pop culture like anime and so on that people become attracted to it (it's also because Japan is a business and economic giant). On the other hand, there are nations that are much needier and that could really use a lot of missionary help, but they aren't on anyone's pop culture radar, so no one says to himself or herself, "Wow, I really love the culture of Laos! I hope to go there as a missionary someday!"

So just in case anyone is reading who is thinking of being a missionary, I would really encourage you to consider going to a country that is more overlooked and which has more exigent needs. For example, Cambodia is a country where there are a lot of deep wounds and pain and there's a lot of need for help, especially in medicine and education. And the people of Cambodia are really wonderful, warm, friendly, kind, charming people. If you go there, you will probably love the Cambodian people. But people just don't have Cambodia on their radar to say things like, "I love Cambodian culture so much! I want to go there someday!"

That's not to denigrate missions in Japan at all, of course--there's a lot of spiritual need there, with the country being 1% Christian and most Japanese being non-religious. But I as an individual feel a lot of guilt over not having gone somewhere where there was real (material) poverty and instead choosing to dote on the bright and charming child that is already adored by everyone rather than helping a child who is sitting in a corner hurting and lonely.

Again I returned feeling that I'd missed that thing, worsened by the haunting thought that I was farther from it than on the first trip. I can't delve deeper into the nature of this thing without adding too much more to this already lengthy wall of text. It's less nebulous than I make it sound though.

You're just making us curious, Rusty. What was it?

And P.S., what all did you see and do in Okinawa?
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Re: Japan Success Stories

Postby Rusty Claymore » Mon Jun 29, 2015 8:35 pm

Thanks Kaori! I've considered using ESL as a stepping stone as well. I did visit a Christian school while I was in Okinawa, perhaps the one you taught at? I don't remember the name, but it was built to look like a ship. I also saw Shiisaa, the ruins of a castle, stayed in a house that used to belong to a Yakuza, and visited Blue Seal ice cream. A couple of times. >_< I was accompanying a small group of pastors guided by a missionary they all supported, visiting contacts in various places in Japan and Okinawa, so I saw a lot fairly quickly (and may have mixed a few places up). I believe I also took a ferry from Okinawa to a smaller island, from which I saw my first flying fish.

You make a valid point about missions in Japan, one I've contemplated before. Given all that, why Japan? There are places of greater need, greater peril, and(if I may be so bold) greater glory to God. That's a part of that thing I mentioned. Which may be more nebulous than I'd let myself think. >_<

On that topic, it's disappointingly simple and embarrassingly complex. Simply: the course of my life indicates I'm supposed to be in Japan. I'll admit that sounds pretty arrogant, and I myself don't like the sound of it. But to go to Japan, twice, and leave with hardly a contact or promising connection, raises questions. Or doubts, rather. It was more than just not feeling a connection. There was little if anything to connect between myself and those I came into contact with. That's where the, "Why?"s come in and things get complicated. A lot has to do with personal development(or lack thereof), which is the embarrassing bit.
Sorry if that doesn't make much sense.

Oddly, I do have a connection: a Japanese man I met here in the states through what could only be a divine instance. We still meet for lunch and discuss living in Japan, as he's trying to move back there with his family.
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