Sunday, October 23, 2005


One of the good things, and there aren’t many, about being sick, is that when you get better, you appreciate things all that much more. I definitely appreciate being able to be a fully functioning human again, without too much worry of being toppled by the honk of a fire engine.
I worked out on Wednesday, and meant to yesterday, but instead met up with my friend Pierre (not, of course, his real name). We had dinner at an izakaya, a kind of Japanese pub (there are many kinds). He had beer, and I didn’t. Despite feeling better, I’m not taking any chances. Actually, in my past experience, beer wasn’t much of a trigger. The absolute worst thing is coffee. And it isn’t simply the caffeine, since I can drink tea and have no problems. So, no coffee or beer, two things that this pub was actually well-known for.
I did not get an offer for one of the jobs, in fact probably the second best of the lot, after the one at my company’s U.K. office. The manager I spoke to wants someone who can write Japanese contracts. While my Japanese is o.k., it isn’t that good. C’est la vie. I don’t feel that bad about it, actually. I am getting busier at my current job, and I would like to work harder on really getting the projects and programs I am responsible for really right.
One of the other jobs, I don’t think I would be interested even if there was an offer: There is too much déjà vu to my last company, the one with the sociopathic boss. It would actually be fun work, I think, but I don’t think I want to be working for that particular company. They are ISO 9001 certified, so they aren’t quite as bad as my last company, but on the other hand, I guess the lack of security is a bit of a turnoff.
So, for the short term, it looks like I stay put, which is fine. My back garden is beautiful, the lawn really coming in well. If I need to dash off to England for a new job, that would be fine, too.
My son turned eight today (technically today, but I still need to sleep and wake up for it to be Sunday for me). It was a very quick eight years. Speaking with Pierre last night, he said something that I have thought—I have made some very big changes in my life in a very short time, and have also been pretty lucky in how things have gone for me. He thinks that I have probably gone as far as I can in Japan career-wise, and that the country as a whole is crazy, and so really my only option to be sane and have a good career, oh, and by the way, to insure that my son grows up sane, is to get out of Japan. He may be right.
I think my sanity is pretty safe, by sheer cussedness: I refuse to do what I am told, or feel how I am supposed to. But I do worry about my son. My wife is a lost cause, and is often the one telling me what to do or how to feel.
It is easy to get, after 12 ½ years here, comfortable in the way things are done here, and uncomfortable with change. I have occasional bouts of that, but generally have gained my sense before long. My mother would disagree, and can’t understand why I am still here. I think, that, at this point, it is clear to me why: I intend to make the most of the opportunities I have here, and then move on, and away.
Every time I travel to Europe, I come back feeling like there is a big lifestyle deficit here in Japan: Holidays are about half those in Europe; Europeans tend to be a lot more active than Japanese in their free time, and there are a lot of activities going on; work is less of an all-encompassing thing in Europe than in Japan; there is a much more family-friendly environment, in terms of education, work, community, and social services.
Oh, and did I mention that my company’s car allowance would allow me to buy a Mini Cooper S?


Anonymous E. said...

Interesting. After 4 years in Tokyo I was ready to make the break. I too felt that I had gone as far as I could career wise, I wanted to get out before i became "our man in japan".

It is hard to make that adjustment from the field back to corporate. I thought that after being the only gaijin, the workplace would start to make alot more "sense". However there is still alot of BS back in the HQ. It's just a different type of BS. There are still expected ways of doing things, and models of success. They are just different.

But simply being able to realise this, and to navigate it successfully, was half the battle. After working on both sides of the fence now, I appreciate my Japan experience, and feel equipped to land anywhere.

Good luck!

3:36 PM  

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