I’m an IT (Linux engineer / sysadmin) freelancer working 100% “online” – all I need to work is my laptop and a reliable internet connection. This allowed me to travel a lot and spend the last few years living in many countries around the world.
People coming to Japan have different rationale: for short-term visits, it will be usually tourism, motivated by word of mouth, “haven’t seen Japan yet”, or just a good flight deal. People on short visits usually don’t feel like learning Japanese and it’s fully understandable. The ones who want to stay longer were typically exposed to at least some degree of Japanese language – either through popular culture (anime, manga, J-pop etc.), Japanese martial arts, if not doing Japanese studies at their university.
For me, it was quite different. I was at the beginning of my multi-year, around-the world travel and my wife’s cousin (anime/manga fan and a beginner in Japanese) asked us if we wanted to go to Japan with him. We weren’t thrilled about the idea. It was around a year after 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami and lots of media reports one could read were mentioning that there is extreme radiation all over the country. Besides, my perception of Japan was that it’s an expensive country and I wasn’t a fan of Japanese pop culture. Maybe going to Japan was not such a good idea?
Being on the rational side, we’ve bought a Geiger counter and went to Japan. The experience was overwhelming. Not only was background radiation lower than anywhere in the world, but everything was so different from what I was used to. My first stay was 3 weeks, then I came back two more times, each time for 3 months. And it wasn’t enough. I eventually decided that I wanted to live in Japan for longer.
And that’s how Japanizer was born: I didn’t expect Japanese language to be so hard to learn 🙂