And so, I came to Tokyo in 2008 to fulfill a childhood dream of studying in Japan, leaving behind most of my friends, family and memories. Looking back, it was a bold decision, but I never hesitated it, and never regretted.
Even though I had studied Japanese for more than 6, 7 years prior to coming, and could speak pretty passable Japanese when I arrived, never did I know that my knowledge about Japanese culture and language was merely the tip of an iceberg. My first few months in Japan weren’t exactly the most comfortable.
I rented an apartment, chosen because of its low rental fees. It came with a toilet that was virtually the size of the Japanese-styled dug-in toilet hole, and without a bathroom. I had 3 options to take a shower everyday- 1. go to a nearby sento (public bath) that costs about 400 yen each time, 2. use the 100 yen/ 10 min school gym shower (The school was about 7 minutes walk away), 3. walk 30 minutes to my friend’s dormitory and use their bathroom.
I did not have a laptop then, so I was often in the school’s 24-hour computer room till late at night, before walking home to sleep. The apartment was so old that the heater hardly warmed up the room, and so I shivered to sleep every night. Not a very comfortable life, but it was some of my best memories in Japan. Every day was an adventure, a dream come true.
However, I soon realized that I needed to change something in order to make my life in Japan more enriching and fulfilling and so I moved out to a better apartment. I started working part-time to earn money, and of course applied for some scholarship. Whenever I saved up money, I would go traveling around Japan to explore this mysterious yet mesmerizing country.
By the time I graduated from Waseda University, I had trampled on all 47 prefectures, albeit in varying lengths of stays. I found out the various facets of Japan, its seasonal charms, the exquisite allure of its traditional culture that epitomizes the Japanese spirit, and the uniquely Japaneseness of its people. And so I decided to write a book about it.
I started writing it in Japanese, but when I finally finished writing it, I was rejected by various publishers. Obviously, my Japanese, though pretty good, wasn’t good enough to gain the publisher’s attention. And of course, the content of my book was probably too shallow to make it to the bookstore shelves. I soon gave up the idea.
It was one and a half years after graduation, when I quit my last job, that I looked back and started regretting not publishing the book. I relooked at the contents, rewrote 80% of it, and this time, my father decided to support me in self-publishing it.
But of course, self-publishing isn’t easy and cheap. I got a Japanese acquaintance to look through my Japanese and do the page layout for me, an Australian friend to check my English, a Canadian friend to do the cover design, and lastly, my father found a printing company in Thailand that could print at relatively low costs.
We finally managed to get it done within a few months, and now it is finally out!
More specifically, I brought up 4 ‘T’s to illustrate the uniquely Japanese-ness that attracted many foreigners to this country- Tradition & Religion, Tokyo, Trains and Tohoku (northeastern part of Japan). I realized that what makes Japan such a popular yet mysterious country is its intricate connections between its tradition, way of life/ thinking, the everyday life and its language. Read to find out more!
I have started selling the book in Japan, and intend to sell it in Singapore soon!
Please feel free to purchase a copy!!
Title: Japan From Inside ~Travels and Findings of a Local Foreigner~
Details: Written in English and Japanese (188 pages/ full-colour with many photos)
Price: 1260 yen (S$15) + shipping fee (250yen within Japan, 525 yen outside Japan, S$2 within Singapore)
To purchase online:
Thank you for all your support!!