How I landed in Japan and how I left…


It was March of 2007 when I first visited Japan. It was a very short trip. We visited Osaka first, and then Tokyo and some other cities like most other tourists would do when they visit Japan for the first time. Growing up, I have always been familiar with Japanese food and culture although not very deeply, but to some certain degree. And for some reasons, I was not very interested Japan but instead I always found myself going to English-speaking countries for home stay or go somewhere far away to travel.

In that very short trip, I met a girl on a bus in Osaka. She was in a senior year of an international university in Kyushu, the southernmost island of Japan. Since she was also from Thailand, we greeted and chatted a little. She told me she received a scholarship from her university and that Japan is great. She encouraged me to apply to her school. It sounded to me like a good opportunity. Although I had zero knowledge about Japan, during that trip, I realized Japan was probably the cleanest, safest, and probably one of the most beautiful countries I have ever been to. And that was only the first impression I had of Japan which followed by thousands of things I love about the country during my almost 6 years there. I also noticed how good the service was. I felt very welcomed during that visit. I was impressed with how polite people were and how unbelievably organized everything looked and not to mention so many unique things I had never seen anywhere else. There were just so many places and things that are beautiful and also very different. The beautiful sakura, the shrines and temples, Maiko-san on streets, vending machine in every corner, the cool toilet (!) and so on.When I returned home, I applied to her university and I was very fortunate to receive a 100% scholarship from the university. My university is called Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University (APU). It is an international university in a very small city called Beppu located in Oita prefecture – the city of onsens (hot springs). I took the chance and went to Japan. I was 17 years old, fresh out of high school just two weeks before I left for Japan.

I am not going to mention much about how I adjusted to the life there but like other people, I struggled for a couple of years trying to learn the language and culture and figuring out how everything works in Japan. I remember some of my first incidents in Japan were using a cooking sake (alcohol) as cooking oil, using mochi instead of normal white rice, carrying my bed across town with my friends when I was moving out, etc. When that period was over, it was mostly the fun part. I explored the country, met new people, and just simply let myself experience.

I moved to Chiba after I finished all my credits in fourth year first semester to find a job. It took me a week to make that decision, pack up and leave. Although, everyone warned me working in Japan is not easy, I decided to take the challenge. After so many hand-written resumes, web tests and interviews, I received a job offer. Then, I changed my visa, moved to Tokyo area and started working! And yes, like what people had warned me, I encountered several hardships that I considered that time to be one of the toughest times I had in my life. I won’t go into details here unless you ever meet me in person. 🙂

After that, I lived in Yokohama and commuted to my new office in Tokyo every day. From my office I could see the beautiful Mt. Fuji view every morning. The company was great, everyone was nice, things were right again. Then, they moved me to Osaka. The workplace and the people were completely different. People are more casual and fun. Everybody had some sort of energy which I tend to think it’s only-in-Kansai. They were fun, energetic and had a strong Kansai dialect that I got used to after a little while. In Osaka, I woke up to a buffet breakfast provided by my company, I walked 10 minutes to work, and then when I finished working, I went out and then I came home to a nice hot bath. What could be better than that? My weekend schedules were also full of travel plans to other cities in Kansai areas and even a farther trip to Okinawa and others. I had the best time!

Then, I decided to further my studies since I have always wanted to do so. This reason, along with some issues just made me go for the graduate school plan. I chose to come to Bristol, UK for my master degree. After so many years, I decided to leave which was a very hard decision but I knew it is not going to be forever (hopefully). Japan has given me so much from the start. It is one place I feel like home in many ways. One way I like to see it is that part of me grew up there. I may have become the third culture kid who understands the culture while also choosing to follow and not follow some of the traditions but I guess that’s the whole purpose to go live abroad which is to broaden your horizon and become an open-minded person.

I have been putting off writing out me leaving Japan for a long time because I simply wanted to spend time with people I knew I was going to miss and do things I knew I couldn’t do here. On top of that, I was overwhelmed with UK visa application and things I had to do before leaving Japan. If you noticed, I also didn’t go into details of many stories but maybe I can write more into it later.

So I am here in Bristol for a few weeks now. School has already started. I don’t know many people, or where to go, what to do, what to eat and others. I am still homesick. There are just millions of things I miss about living in Japan…but the main things are probably the food and people, even Thai food in Japan is quite authentic enough that it rarely let me down. The only things I don’t think I miss are those typhoons and earthquakes…and maybe morning trains on rush hours. 😛 Although wanting to go back every day, I am here now and I intend to not forget what I am here for and make this time the best. So…may new the adventure begins! 🙂

As for this blog, I will definitely continue writing more about Japan since I have so many posts in the drafts already and I may as well update you on how I am over here sometimes.


One of the hottest day in Tokyo this year (you can probably tell).
Taken with my best friends in Sensoji temple, Asakusa(浅草寺、浅草).


Categories: Japan, Uncategorized

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9 replies »

  1. Pretty awesome article! I think you were lucky to go right after your high school, so you didn’t have any partner or any bonds to Thai other than your family. I’m 22 now and I just moved to Iceland for only 1 semester of studies and it’s been so hard for me because my gf is back at home and I don’t have really great friends around here. But it’s true that I haven’t put any effort into learning Icelandic… I want to study in Japan as well but if I maintain my relationship, I won’t probably go. If I don’t however, I’m applying for scholarship immediately :-). Anyway, enjoy the UK!! 🙂 And if you feel like it in the future, feel free to visit me in Iceland, it’s quite close :-))

    • Hello. I’m 22 years old as well and like you, I left a lot of things behind but at our age, can you really base your life on your gf/bf? 🙂 It’s time to be the best you I would say but I do understand you feelings. But don’t think about it too much, do what you have to do. Other things will come. And thank you so much!! ^^ hope you’ll find great friends and enjoy your time too!

  2. I love your blog! Are you planning on going back after you finish in the UK?

    I also wanted to ask if you encountered any racism? I’m Thai/White but I mostly take after my Thai side and I always wanted to visit Japan.

    • sorry, I am not very computer literate. I was wondering how long it had been since you moved back to Japan. I had noticed that you said you were in Bristol, UK.

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