On top of the 2 million foreign residents in Japan, I suppose a some 10 million foreigners visit Japan every year. In my little city of 35,000 people and neighboring cities of 150,000 – 200,000 people, the faces of non Japanese are far and few. And when I see them seeing me, I wonder if they experience Japan like me.
No doubt that even the most closeted otaku will leave the comfort of their internet-fitted home to see the must sees: the famous castles, the bustling streets, the quaint historic towns… but if you ask me, the magical splendor of Japan is subtle. It’s found in the moss ridden stones of forgotten steps in the inaka and the hidden dive tucked away in walked-past alleys. It’s stumbled upon, or more likely, it stumbles upon you. I think you have to be patient to see it and your heart has to be open enough to say yes to it.
After 2.5 years of living abroad in Japan, I think I’m finally ready to start sharing some of my experiences. It’ll be slow, as exploring will always have to come first, but it’s time for a little introspection and appreciation.