The First Month

I can’t believe it’s already been a month since I moved to Japan!

In some respects, it feels as though I’ve been here much longer. I’ve made friends quickly and settled into my house, neighborhood and job with ease. At the same time though, it feels like I just got here. Every day there is still some new, fascinating detail of life yet to be discovered, and I have so much still to learn about the Japanese language and culture.

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Fancy Japanese market

My city, Nagoya, is the fourth-largest in Japan, with around 2 million people. It’s a port city, and thrives with industry and students. It may lack the sparkle and culture of a city like Tokyo, but there are still plenty of things to do and places to go, and it’s more of a normal city, where people live, work and study. One of the advantages of this is that there are a lot less tourists and foreigners here, and I hope I’ll be able to become more immersed in Japanese life. The location is also ideal. Nagoya is between Tokyo and Kyoto, the two biggest sightseeing destinations in Japan, and a convenient distance to many other places around the country as well. In many ways, the city reminds me a lot of Izmir, the city I lived in during my time in Turkey. Actually, there are a lot of surprising similarities between Japanese culture and Turkish culture, but I’ll save that for a future post.

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Nagoya Port at night
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View of Nagoya from Nagoya Castle

My share house is in Tsukijiguchi, about a 20 minute subway ride from downtown, near the port. I love it. The area is older and quaint with small shops and restaurants and a tiny Buddhist shrine. My house used to be a ryokan, a traditional Japanese inn, but it was bought by the housing company and refurbished. It has 22 bedrooms, and shared bathrooms, kitchen, and common areas. Only five of us in the house are foreign, and the rest are all young Japanese people in their 20’s and 30’s who work and go to school in Nagoya. Everyone in the house is very friendly, and the Japanese roomates have been very kind to us foreigners, making us amazing food and helping us with day to day tasks.

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The local shrine in my neighborhood
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My awesome room mate, making nabe (hot pot)

Not everything has been biscuits and gravy, though. As you all know, this is the first time in my life that I’ve truly been on my own. In some ways I feel like a college freshman leaving home! The first couple of weeks here I definitely felt a bit uprooted, melancholy, and unsure. Part of this was being in a new place, but part of it was that I simply haven’t discovered how to be by myself. However, in the last few weeks, as my daily life and work have taken on something more like a routine and my new friendships have strengthened, something inside me shifted, like a switch being flipped. Now that the first month is almost up, I can say with confidence that I am truly loving being in Japan and cannot wait to see what the next months will bring!

Much more to come. . .

Happy Travels,

Mo

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Businessmen on lunch in a ramen shop
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4 thoughts on “The First Month

  1. It’ll take a while to get used to being in charge of everything after having either a partner or someone else’s rules for so long. The thing is, it would also take time if you were in the US. You might as well be in a new country where you get to explore being on your own and Japan!

  2. Hey! I’m an ESL teacher who’s just spent my first month living in China! 🙂 I know this is an older post but I can totally relate to the feeling uprooted. I never expected it as when I moved from Canada to England, the culture shock just wasn’t comparable to this! I find it hits you in subtle ways that you don’t even notice, until you’re feeling down and actually take the time to figure out why! Anyway, enjoying reading your blog – Japan is definitely high on my list of places I want to visit while here!

    Cody

    1. Thanks Cody! Although this wasn’t my first move abroad, there was definitely something about it that was striking. I’m very curious about China as well. I can’t wait to check out your blog and read about your experience!

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