(See page 2 for the German version)
In order to attend a wedding I went to Germany three weeks ago. It was a bit short, but I had a really nice time there, – I could meet family and friends, did some sightseeing and was able to eat many of the foods that I can`t have in Japan. Now, I am back in Japan, and spending my time in my apartment in Tokyo, eating Haribo Phantasia that had found their way into my backpack in Germany somehow, while thinking about the whole “living in a foreign country” – thing. When I was back in Germany this time, people often asked me where I thought my real “home” was. This simple question is actually not easy to answer. My real “home” (/home country) of course is the place, where I grew up and spent most of my life, and also, where my family lives, so the answer would be Germany. That being said, as I am currently working and living in Japan, I can also say that this is my home.
I feel like Japanese people, who have already lived for a longer time in Germany, often ask me, why I want to live in Japan, considering that Germany is soo beautiful, has a better welfare system and so on. Ever since I have spent a longer time in Japan, I started to realize the good things about Germany, for example that there are many beautiful cities, old buildings are being protected, everything seems so much more relaxed and laid-back (…a reason for me having this impression could be that you can see so many people cycling or sitting around in sidewalk cafes), there is social security and far less discrimination, travelling to other countries is really cheap, people reflect politics, etc. critically and do say out loud what they really think…Being part of my daily life, I didn`t realize that these things were so important to me, until I started missing them when living in another country.
But even though I miss a lot of things and especially my family, the “culture shock” of being here in Japan hadn`t been big enough to make me blind for all the good things around me, and I keep enjoying living here, too!
If you asked me why, I could give you many reasons, but some of them are that Japan can be beautiful too, especially its country side, you can be surrounded by a wonderful nature, there are so many nice people who go out of their way to make you feel welcomed as a guest, Japan is really safe ( – or where else could I walk around the party districts of a huge city alone at night without worrying about anything..?), the food is delicious and seems to be healthier than in most other countries, there are impressive traditional crafts and (martial) arts with a very long tradition, in many aspects of life there is a great attention to details and aesthetics, …just to mention a few things.
To be honest, I am not planning on staying in Japan forever, but I wouldn`t mind at all to live here a few more years…. And as long as I do that, I am all the more looking forward to my next short trip to Germany, where I can enjoy rye bread with Nutella for breakfast, go to the old historic center of my city in the evenings and visit the many castles and world heritage sites there on the weekends 😉