On March 24, 2016 at 6am, I jumped off the plane at Haneda airport in Tokyo with no job, alone and with no friends and I barely spoke any Japanese. My luggage was lost somewhere in Beijing and I had to traverse the metro with my carry-on and dying cellphone. It was raining, and my loafers squished under my feet. I made my way to pick up my keys to the sharehouse I booked two months ago.
Now I’m teaching English, as most foreigners do if they can’t speak the language or have any other kind of skill sets. That or recruiting. My situation is slightly different though, but not unique. Nothing about me is Japanese, except my face and my passport. So, mentally I am a foreigner. Physically and legally, I am a native.
I know that I am not the only one in this predicament, but its an experience without much attention unless you are actively searching for it. Google searches will dump similar stories and gripes as this. But it’s rare to find someone, in person, who has willingly put themselves in this limbo.
As I write, at this moment, it is July 22, 2016 at 6:20pm. Four months have passed by, masked in various moments of triumph, confusion, embarrassment, and more confusion. At first I was convinced I never actually arrived at Haneda, but instead was somehow warped into Bowie’s Labrynth. Anything you thought you knew, it’s the opposite. It’s barely an exaggeration. For example if you need a place to smoke, go inside. Smoke in hallways, small rooms, cafe’s but don’t smoke outside or on the street.
This story is in the process of growing and continuing, so I will put this timestamp of 1:37 March 12, 2017, and leave a quick note to say that I will complete this written section. Notes and images are scribbled across scraps of paper and evernote, so I will be collecting and updating. Until then…