What brought you to Japan? Is that still your reason now? Why or why not?

The first time I came to Japan was during high school. It was on a family trip with my mother, my aunt, and a good friend. My cousin was teaching on the JET program at the time, so we visited her and she showed us around. Back then, I played a lot of video games. These days most popular video games are released all over the world, but through the 90s and early 00s a large number of games didn’t make it outside Japan. Therefore, when we visited, I was excited to see so many games that were only available in Japan. However, I couldn’t speak Japanese so I felt like I was missing out. Of course, we also visited a lot of temples and landmarks. I had a passing interest in anime and Japanese culture, but games and technology were the most appealing to me.

Because of that trip, I decided to study Japanese in college. The classes were early in the morning, but I still enjoyed them. There was a strong sense of community between the students. In the summer after my freshman year, I went on a study abroad program with some of those other students. We mostly studied in Chiba, but also went on many excursions into Tokyo as well as a week-long trip to many places around the country. Since I was older than when I first visited, I appreciated the temples, landmarks, and culture much more than when I was a child. Since the program was for several months, I was also able to get a sense of daily life in Tokyo. I strongly prefer walking and taking public transportation to driving, so I discovered I liked the lifestyle in Tokyo.

I continued to study Japanese through college, but even by the time I graduated I still wasn’t very confident in my ability. It seemed like the students who already knew kanji were able to excel but I had a hard time remembering many of them. After graduating, I went back to Boston for a year and then lived in New York for a year. I liked those cities, but I also wanted to do something more interesting when I was still young. That’s why I decided to move to Tokyo to do a Japanese language study program. I ended up choosing the program at Keio and moved to Tokyo in late 2009.

While I still enjoyed games, by that point I was much more interested in culture and trying new things. I enjoyed talking to people who have different perspectives and life experiences than me, so meeting new people in a place very different from where I grew up was a big appeal. I also found I liked Tokyo itself. I like being able to walk to interesting places and neighborhoods and being able to travel to lots of places outside the city easily. At this point I’m so used to relying on trains that I think it would be hard for me to go back to driving.

While I still enjoy games, these days they’re not a big part of why I continue to live in Tokyo. Now I mostly just like the city and the people I know here. It’s convenient, it’s clean, and there are a lot of interesting places to spend time. It’s not perfect, the weather in summer is terrible for example, but now I stay because I like the lifestyle of Tokyo.


show one around (verb) - to be a guide for somebody when they visit a place for the first time and show them what is interesting about that place
miss out (phrasal verb) - to fail to benefit from something useful or fun by not taking part in it
passing (adjective) - lasting only for a short period of time and then disappearing
get a sense (verb) – to gain an understanding of something
perspective (noun) – the way things are seen from an individual’s point of view