Japan: are we there yet?


Not yet folks, but we are getting very close!

I haven’t really been keeping folks up to date bout our goal of moving to Japan since I first posted it here on April first. That auspicious timing was a complete accident, though it feels appropriate none the less. At any rate, things have actually gone pretty well since then. I can’t say it’s been going quickly, but its been going well. Here is a breakdown of what we accomplished in that time.

  • I got a job offer working at GABA teaching English conversation classes
  • I completed a 150hour TESOL course from Arizona State University
  • Anne put the Airstream up for sale and I negotiated a sale (we haven’t closed it yet though)
  • Anne has been fervently studying Japanese
  • We settled our cats with our very good friends the Grubbs for the time being
  • I got my entry permit to Japan (basically my Visa is approved)

What remains at this point are the logistics of settling into Japan. We have to secure an apartment to live in, a bank account, a phone, residency papers, utilities, transit passes, internet, and all that normal life stuff. But of course, in Japan, everything works a bit differently. As with all the challenges on this adventure my attitude is: “Many have successfully walked this path, I can do it too.”

The other tricky bit is Anne’s Visa status. We have rattled around on many different solutions to that. For starters, she’s coming in on a tourist visa. At least she gets a cheap train pass that way! But it’s only good for 3 months, after that, she’s got to leave Japan and come back if we can’t get her a more long-term Visa before then. Not ideal, but again, she won’t be the first to have had to do it this way. Once I’m working and collecting an income, we can apply for her to be a dependent, or, failing that, register her for school and she can stay on a student visa.

So how are we feeling?

Were both a bit stressed, both a bit tired, and both very excited. With nine months from the day we committed to the idea by the time we land, it’s been to long a task to feel an especially intense moment of excitement until the big day comes. That said, there’s been plenty of anxiety, uncertainty, and challenge all along the way. Fortunately, no great disappointments though. And with my entry permit secure in my passport, we are at the point where this thing is definitely going to happen!

So, this is that feeling you get at the start of a big journey. I don’t really know exactly what will happen. I’ve got outlines and ideas, but really, I have no clue. In 3-5 weeks I will be in a new country I’ve never been to. I’ll have a new job I’ve never done before. I’ll have no car for the first time in ages. I’ll be at the mercy of the kindness of strangers more often than not. It’s really exciting, and of course, all a bit scary.

Thanks, everyone!

So, this is definitely a case where I could not have done this without help from friends, family, and complete strangers. I’m super fortunate that nearly everyone in my life is supportive and kind. Former employers stepped up and wrote letters of recommendation for me that were essential to my application. People who have been to Japan or are living in Japan have given me all kinds of helpful advice. Strangers on the internet likewise have put a lot of time and effort into helping others avoid their own mistakes and learn from their experience.  The fine folks at Gaba gave me an opportunity, and have done a great job shepherding me along the path to getting all my affairs in order. And thankfully, my parents have been very supportive of my crazy adventure.

Extra special thanks go out to three incredible friends. Jeff and Kate Grubb for giving our kitties, Kia and Kekovar safe refuge. Hauling them across the Pacific was something that had me really worried, and Japan’s landlords are not keen on pets in general. And our status in Japan is at the whims of the authorities there. So, I just feel so much better knowing they are safe and well cared for by loving friends.

The third is my longtime buddy Tom Pettigrew. This saint of a man has let Anne and I crash at his home in California for 12 months. We try to be good house guests, clean up, make food, be good company, but 12 months! We came for the winter, we stayed for the year. That’s some serious kindness and I’ll never forget it.

Of course, I’m always grateful for my beloved wife Anne. Her dreams of seeing all there is to see in the world gives me the motive to make it happen. Her incredible sense of diligence turns my strategies into well-executed plans.

Various Details

When are we leaving?  Sometime in November, we will know for sure in a week or so.

Where will you live? Near Tokyo. I’m working in Shinagawa, which is just south of Tokyo city.

What are you doing? I’ll be teaching one-on-one English conversation classes with adults. I’ll keep up with my freelance writing as well. I might even get some sleep once in a while! Anne is going to be making our life work in Japan. Eventually, we’ll get to do some serious exploring, but for starters, everyday life Tokyo will be our adventure.


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