Saturday, May 12, 2018

Living In Japan...

I lived in Japan for almost 15 years from 1987 till 2001.  I've now lived in Australia for 18 years, so quite some time has passed. It does put a different perspective on it all.

If you google "Living in Japan" you will mostly find articles from young single Americans who went there as an English teacher for a company like NOVA.  And that probably impacts how they are seen and expected to behave when there.

I went as an Electronics Engineer who had already done something quite famous, the Fairlight Instruments CMI II and Series III.  I also had a Japanese wife and a young son, that meant I didn't need to be looked after the same way by the company.  I also went to work for The Roland Corporation in Hamamatsu Japan, an electronic musical instrument company. The field I was already in.  Roland was also the company that's gear I personally bought and used and always considered them to have a great ability to come up with mostly the right thing at a great price. What I wanted to be involved with.

I also went when Japan was on a roll and doing great, a year or so before Australia fell into a economic hole, so I was in the right place and the right time.

Others will talk about discrimination, but you get both positive and negative treatment because of not being Japanese.   It isn't all bad at all.

Canadians and Australians probably have an easier time with Japanese culture than Americans, just due to their own cultural upbringing.   We all bring good and bad baggage to the gig.

I could go on at length with many anecdotes,   but I will keep this short.

There was an economic decline in Japan over the time I was there, that made some people in the company become less agreeable to the extent I decided I needed to leave the company.  I didn't actually want to leave Japan though.  Ended up that just being the easiest solution with a family to come back to Australia. Made my kids learn to speak English, and see another side of life.

Coming back to Australia after all those years makes you see where you are from in a completely different light too.  I mean was service of any kind always so poor?  Why don't stores actually carry anything I want?  Nobody turns up on time! You mean nobody here does any electronics and software development, or practically any other field, now?

We are now on the Australian NBN so our Internet now fails about once an hour for 5 minutes, as does the telephone.  And the complaints about the system are breaking records.  A pity that isn't fixing it though.  THAT wouldn't happen in Japan!

In Japan, in everything there was always an air of "I will do my best".  I really miss that, but it is also a source of pressure on everyone.

So working in a Japanese company isn't easy. People have died of over work, and there are new laws being introduced in 2018 in an attempt to reduce these deaths and wrecked families.  But it completely opened up my work life with the yearly overseas conference and other business trips I was involved with.  There was real career development for me.

General life in Japan is very good, it is the corporate side that makes it tough.

If I was someone that loved sailing or went to the beach and surfing, then Japan wouldn't be the place for me at all. I am not that person though.

If I didn't have to work other than do my own freelance illustration thing anymore would I live in Japan? Yes!  I was in Japan when I got my first freelance gig, and the Internet has just made all that even easier over the years.

Maybe more at some other time...

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