I’ve wanted to announce this sooner, but I was unable until now. I’ve been working at same Big Ol’ IT Company (BOITC) for almost 7 years now as a computer engineer. It’s demanding and busy, but it’s been a good job and I am happy to stay there for several years more.
But you see, for the last 5 years or so, I’ve been trying to find a way to live and work in Japan. Moving to a foreign country is difficult. Afterall, you need a visa of some kind, and you need a job that can support yourself (duh).
Many foreigners try to find teaching jobs in Japan, but a teaching job does not pay very much, and it’s hard to support a family on that salary. Also, the job can be unreliable, as your visa status isn’t always guaranteed. Because I am supporting my wife and daughter, I have to be more cautious.
So, my plan has been to try and transfer within my company to Japan. We have a lot of offices there in different parts of Japan, but it’s hard to transfer because the types of jobs don’t fit my skills. About once or twice a year, I try to apply to some position, but I always fail. In my first attempt, I was asked to do a self-introduction in Japanese (自己紹介). I didn’t know Japanese much, so I was really humiliated.1 This was a big motivation at the time to study for the JLPT and pass the N2. I didn’t want to be humiliated again.
In a more recent attempt, I thought I would succeed but I was still rejected because my programming skills are weak.
So, each year I try, and each year I fail. Sometimes I really want to give up, but I keep trying anyway.
Anyhow, recently I found a similar job to what I do now, but in a different department which has a big presence in Japan. I’ll still be working in Seattle, but after gaining some experience here, and working hard, I can try to transfer to Japan in a year or two. I already talked to the new manager about it, and we agreed to the plan. Plus, one other good thing about transferring is that my oncall shifts will be a lot shorter, so I will have more free time again even if I can’t transfer to Japan. 🙂
I couldn’t announce this until after I told my team though. I wanted to post about it sooner but some coworkers read this blog (hi!) so i had to wait. Since I am transferring, I’ve been very busy lately finishing projects here, so personal projects, language study and such, have all been neglected.
Now, this does not guarantee that I can live in Japan. Things might change. But, I really feel that I am much closer to my goal now. I have hope again.
Also, I am glad to have a plan to legitimately emigrate to Japan. I have heard some foreigners try clever things like getting tourist visas and such until they can get a job, but I think this is a bad idea. I just don’t respect people who abuse the system.
Anyhow, why am I so focused on living in Japan? It’s complicated, but there are many reasons. One reason is that I really like Japan of course. I like the quality of life, the food, the service, and transportation system, plus in the Tokyo area, there’s plenty of things to do and see. Plus, for a Buddhist like me, I think there’s many more resources available, and someday I want to become a priest. There’s just too few resources in Seattle, and I don’t feel comfortable in the culture there.
More importantly, I feel my wife and daughter would be happier, safer and have better education opportunities there. There is a trade-off of course, but we’ve been doing our research and talking with other foreigners who live in Japan, and we’re prepared.
So, here’s hoping I finally get the chance. I don’t expect any updates soon, but I’ll let people know.
P.S. I was trying to find an “inspiring” picture about Japan, but I couldn’t find one. So, here’s a picture of me at Hakone, taken in 2005. Enjoy!
1 I have done self-introductions since then in Japanese, and can do them better than before. Practice and study paid off.