“I was a single mother in California when my son told me he wanted to study Japanese. So I let him, and after he graduated from high school, we both came to Japan for two months using money I saved up. After that, my mother got sick and died, my son went to college, and I found myself totally alone. Then I came back to Japan and taught English. It was difficult. Coming here at 44 years old. Most people who come here are young men who learn Japanese from their girlfriends. I struggled with the language and spent a lot of time alone. And when I got sick of the city, I moved to a quiet beach area where I would talk to fishermen and other locals.
“There are some things foreigners pick up from Japan that the Japanese forget, especially in big cities like Tokyo. The culture here is to be kind to people because that’s your job. But I think that cultivates a sense of togetherness. I have close friends here from all over the world. If I go home, then I won’t see them anymore, so I stay in Japan. Even though I can’t vote and they can kick me out anytime, I’ve fallen in love with this place. Right now I’m a freelance writer and content developer. But I’m also trying to restore some of their local community centers in deep rural areas. I’m even learning about permaculture. All the young people in Japan are moving to the cities while old people are dying. Stop running to the cities. Go back to the countryside. Find out how much you can live off wild plants and mountain vegetables without buying anything. I don’t know why Japan is so worried about trade. All the resources the world needs are from the Earth. And Japan has good soil. They have everything.”