My name is Markus, 29 years old (at the time of writing), born and raised in Germany, specifically in the beautiful Ruhr area (I don’t care what anyone says, it’s beautiful to me). I have been living in Japan for roughly three years now, first as an exchange student, then with a working holiday visa, and now with a normal working visa. Thus, I have experienced Japan from quite a few angles which is why I started this blog to share my experiences and knowledge (limited as it is) with other people looking to come to Japan. You can probably stop reading here.
I have been interested in Japan casually since I was a kid, watching Dragon Ball or Naruto and reading Manga. As I grew older, I started to become interested in Japanese history, as well as the writings of Murakami Haruki. When it became time to think about University, I first started studying Archaeology and History but quickly discovered that memorizing different kinds of pottery, and what significance they hold to be somewhat tedious. Bored with university, I read all the Murakami books that I could get my hands on and decided that I wanted to learn more about the country where he was raised. Therefore, after somehow slogging through one year of Archaeology and History, I decided to switch my major to Asian Studies and Japanese. Reading this makes it sound like it was a calculated decision, but really, I’d just had a not so great year when I came upon a line in one of Murakami’s books, that goes something like “it does not matter what you do, as long as you continue dancing” (going from memory here, don’t quote me). If you stay in motion, things will happen around you, but if you stay still and hide nothing will come of it. So being completely honest, changing majors was a decision I probably made on a whim, rather than following the logic laid out above.
Anyway, it turned out to be a good decision. I learned all kinds of stuff about Asia as a whole and Japan, in particular, be that economics, history, or sociology. Also, I got my first experience with the Japanese Language. At this point, I had never actually been in Japan, so when the opportunity for an exchange year came up it seemed like a no-brainer to spend some time in the country that I was studying about and trying to grasp the language of. So, I spent one year studying the Japanese Language (and various other tidbits) at Keio University in Japan. I had been learning Japanese on and off for about two years at that point, but when coming to Japan I realized that my abilities were completely insufficient to even do simple tasks like registering myself at city hall. Real-life situations and classroom situations are rather different after all. But anyway, I struggled on and eventually made it through my exchange year, returned to Germany and graduated from University.
I was never one of those people with a clear goal in life, that they are striving to achieve. When I graduated from University, I was a bit stumped on what to do next. But I had really enjoyed my time in Japan and wanted to spend more time there, so a Working Holiday seemed like the next logical option. It’s quite easy for Germans to get a Working Holiday visa, so I was already on my way to Japan, having submitted my graduation thesis just weeks before. Once in Japan, I did what most people tend to do and spend almost all of my time in Tokyo, living in a share house. During my time there, I realized that I was not ready to go back to Germany just yet. As you may have thought yourself while reading this, I figured that an Asian Studies major is pretty much worthless back home, severely limiting my chances of finding a decent job, but in Japan, where law school graduates end up working in the IT industry, I figured I would have a shot at finding something to do to feed myself.
That lead to me looking for a job and as the end of my working holiday was approaching, I took basically the first job I could get, a translation and interpreting job at a call centre. It was a pretty boring job, and I was what’s called a 派遣社員 (dispatch employee) so it could not be called stable employment, but the salary was decent for a first job and I learned a lot in my time there. My Japanese had gotten a lot better during my Working Holiday, but now I was in a situation where I was forced to speak Japanese, otherwise my clients and colleagues would not understand what was going on. Thanks to this job my Japanese leveled up a lot, but it was still pretty boring, so after a year it was time to move on to my current job. Now I work for a small employment agency in Shinagawa. It’s a very small company, which means job positions are not fixed and I am able to do different things and learn a lot.
If you managed to read until here, I applaud you. At the point of writing, I am still with the employment agency in Shinagawa, so my story kind of ends here for now. To the future, I guess.