Why Japan ?
"How did you come to like Japan ?"
"But... why Japan ?"
Arriving in my new job, I was of course under fire of questions for a while and it led me to think: Why Japan?
Let's go back.
Like many children of my generation, I was raised by the Japanese cartoons on a French TV show called Club Dorothée. Sailor Moon was my weekend best friend but it would be a lie to say that my interest in Japan began there. At 5,6 years old, children are not aware of this stuff, Sailor Moon had super powers, she came from space, that was all that mattered to the little girl I was.
A few years later in junior high school, I started to read some manga but I wansn't really interested in it. Girl manga was pretty was annoying and the others had something strange, drawings maybe? Or French used, that was a bit odd. Towards the end of my junior high school years, I was especially fascinated by children and young singers. An online friend made me discover some Japanese idol groups : singers who are a bit younger than me just and singing the pop music in a language that I immediately found very beautiful. That was the start.
Gradually, by dint of listening to J-pop songs, I fell in love with the language and I started to want to learn it. I will always remember the first sentence I learned, found by chance in a magazine:
There was also the transcript in Japanese writing and I found the writing really beautiful. I bought a book to start learning and then everything speed up : after the writing, some grammar and vocabulary and information gleaned on the net to understand the book's situations, still pretty exotic to me. Then the passion grew more and more : dozens guidebooksabout Japan received, start of the Japanese school on Saturday, a first trip, then a second and a third, until I feel the need to go every year and then want to go living there.
I think this indescribable feeling, the one which make the why Japan? question difficult to answer began right while my second trip: it was during this that I knew I could only please me here.Both the first was a trip so really organized holidays and between French, both with the second, I could taste the Japanese daily life since I was a student in a language school. So I had sort of a routine for a month, has much resembled that of thousands of other Japanese students. I discovered that daily I immediately seemed surprisingly familiar and suited me more than well.
As in my travels went, this feeling grown again and again, until that day when I arrived inFukuoka. I haven't felt like moving but come back home. Strange right? I didn't even know the city yet but I had the impression of always having been there or at least to be back after a long travel abroad.
The very next day my Japanese daily life began when I move into my room and had to do some administrative formalities. Then the school started with its rules that I was o-the only one in my promotion to find easy to follow and pretty normal. All were fine.
After school I enter into the working in japan world. People warned me against the Japanese system but ... I didn't have any particular problem. Again I managed to adapt very quickly. Am I an alien actually?
For some yes. Or at least I am a "kikoojap" (French who is idealizing Japan) to them. Because, in fact, few people are able to understand that we can be quite happy in Japan. I speak for French community here. To say that one has adapted to Japan is almost a taboo. In this case, there is a 99% chance that someone will say back that's there because you have not spent enough time, still waiting for a few years, you change speech when you will get a proper visa / get a job / get married / get child / children get into school / will want to buy a house or Japan is not all pink, you're into your world. As if to be respected by the community, you only have to mention the bad sides of the country, be bored, always finding something to rant about and especially maintaining this myth that a foreigner can not adapt in Japan.
In recent years this has calmed down a bit but are let's say the truth once and for all:
YES it is possible to adapt in Japan for a foreigner.
YES it is possible to live 100% happy in Japan.
YES it is possible that what some see as downsides go perfectly with other people (and vice versa).
Thinking about it, I never had a culture shock in Japan. Everything's always been like I was a cake and that Japan was a mold with perfect dimensions to me. I never been homesick, did not go back once in 3 years and do not feel the need (I'm weird?). I'm so comfortable here, in this country more than the one which is my birth place. I'm sure I'm not the only one who feels that, in Japan or other countries.
Finally I think that's the answer to the question! Now, when someone would ask me why Japan? I would reply: there is no explanation, Japan is a country that fits me and it has become to me as obvious.
Because do need to have a reason to love a country?