Saturday, 28 December 2013

The master plan (part 3)

So I was visiting my best friend Anja in Vienna during Easter. Apart from the drinking and partying we of course found time to discuss my serious concerns about my plan to move to Japan. Speaking of partying, here's a very cool mix of some German DJ we saw in Vienna. It's one of my favorite Deephouse mixes of all times and it's inseperably linked to my year 2013.

Back to Anja. She is a very successful business woman you must know and only being 30, she achieved a lot in her career. More than other women in her age I believe. So when it came to business and work related topics or questions, she was always the best person to talk to and discuss things. In addition to that, we were best friends and shared a lot in the past. I trusted her with everything.

I showed her my Excel sheet and after explaining it and playing with the numbers, we came to the conclusion that I don't have enough money to safely do this. Having talked about financial help in the past, she was offering her help just as you would expect it from a best friend. I came to Vienna to ask her about it actually, but asking a friend for money was the hardest thing I could imagine. That's why I was even more relieved when she wasn't making a big deal out of it. She suggested that I should adjust my sheet to include several other valuables and I was so thankful for her input and even more for her financial help. We didn't know how much and for how long I would need that help, but my finacial planning wasn't at an end yet anyways.The talk with her made me think about my flat situation again. Should I sub-let it or give up my flat completly? Maybe I should get a flatmate for the remaining time and then give it up, hmm.

But no matter what, it was obvious that it was too much of a risk to move to Japan with empty pockets or only a minimum of savings. Not only the school had to be paid in advance but also rent, insurance, train rides and so on. There were lots of upfront payments in the beginning.

Back in Berlin I did the necessary adjustments to my Excel sheet right away and my plan become more realistic and looked a lot better than before, now having the option of Anja's financial help. I came to the following conclusions:

  • I want to become a language student and use the student visa for work. It's the best balance of work and language learning and gives me enough time to find my way around Japan.
  • For that, I need to pay the school upfront (689,700 Yen, at that time around 5,700€)
  • I need at least 3 months of rent plus a 1 month deposit in my pocket to be somewhat safe.
  • I only want Anja's financial help for one year, not more, in order to pay her back in time.
  • For all that, I need around 8,000€ to 10,000€. The lower the better, mainly so the monthly installment isn't such a killer.
  • If Anja helps with only 1 year of monthly installments, I should be more than fine.
  • I need a new flatmate for my remaining time in Berlin. Simply for the additional money.
  • I also need to sell as much valuable stuff as possible.

For some of you, this may sound like a lot of money but for me that wasn't actually much. You can get 8,000€ surprisingly cheap these days and I paid back a lot more than that in the past.

The big question was still: give up the flat, my belongings, basically my life and refuge, or not? Keeping my apartment would allow me to return into my safe harbor if all things go bad but will there be a trustworthy person to rent my apartment eventually? Will the risk of having a stranger in my home even out with the additional income I could get?

I decided it is time to let go. To fully let go. I decided to sell anything of value, only keep my personal stuff and memories but sell everything else. Of course I made a list again for that, a full inventory of things I wanted to sell and an estimated sum of money I could make by selling them. This went straight back into my Excel sheet of course, the more you know, right. Selling things was never my problem. I was an experiend eBay Seller and most of the electronics went there. I also gathered stuff for a flea-market sale and created a very detailed document for all the furniture I had.

Next was the new flatmate. I put up a free online ad at again. It was still saved from a couple of years ago, so I only had to update some pics and change the the description. Right on April 11th, my 33th birthday I published it and waited for the replies. Funny enough, I got quite a lot but most of them were from weirdos and people I wouldn't really trust. I even got into some sort of email fight with some fucker because he couldn't live with my polite way of saying "sorry, not interested". Anyways, this time I wasn't looking for female flatmates only but also for guys. Naturally, I enjoyed the company of women more and thought they are the better flatmates but this time I shouldn't be picky, so a guy would do. And boy, what a guy I got!

So in the end I got a guy from Luxembourg, who had a Doctor in Chinese and spoke German, French, Luxembourgish and of course Chinese. He worked as a translator and tour guide in Berlin. But mainly he drove his own Bicycle-Rikscha and made shitloads of money from the tourists. He was almost never at home and very quiet when he was, so the perfect flatmate actually. He was friendly, laid-back and not too strange. But still a bit strange. A laid-back, friendly kind of strange. Well, I think you catch my drift.

I gave Tokyo Riverside school my thumbs-up and we agreed that I'll start school from October 2013 this year. For that I had to change my flight plans but the costs were luckily covered by the flight insurance I booked as well (I'm such a play-safe guy). My new date of departure was September 25th.

On the next part I will write about the complicated and very Japanese application process and how I spent an awesome last summer in Berlin.

The things you leave behind

I got asked alot what would be the hardest thing to leave behind. If I wouldn't miss my family, Berlin, the food, these kind of things. To be honest, I wasn't really worried about the food or Berlin in general. Reason is; I love Japanese food, I love Tokyo, I won't get bored once I'm there. Of course I knew I would miss my family and friends but with Skype and Facebook, you can still keep in touch and be somewhat close with them.

There were only two things that I would miss dearly. First being my flat and the feeling of comfort and peace I enjoyed all these years, even while I was living alone.Hmm, thinking about it now, maybe even more while I was living alone. For only 550€, it's not easy to get such a big, quiet and cool flat in Berlin, even in the area I lived in. It was simply a great feeling to come home after a day of work, getting a pizza, watching HD movies and taking a bath, all carefree and after my own timing. I enjoyed being alone most of the times, mostly because of my lovely flat and the things I had at my disposal.

The second and more worrying part was the people I grew close to or was about to grow close to. Of course, I'm talking about women I had a love interest in.There were some that I lost contact to mainly because they didn't want any. If a relationship ends bad, women have the incredible strength to cut you out of their lives, once and for all. A strength I kinda admire sometimes. So having one ex-girlfriend I never had a satisfying "final talk" with, I told her about my plans, hoping this would give her the final push to finally meet up with me and give me some peace of mind after the talk. Didn't happen...meh. So that was a downer, but at least she said no and didn't keep quiet.

Maybe I was living in the past for too long (a couple of unlucky relationship attempts in the past tell a story), but I rather wait a couple of years and then talk with that person about our errors and wrong-doings during the relationship than never talking about it again in my life. It's like a review and time heals all wounds, doesn't it? Apparently not for this woman.

Another girl I met and tried to be with was too busy with her emotional problems even when I wasn't planning on going to Japan, so that didn't work out either. I tried to at least have somewhat of a romance with her, fully knowing it wasn't the best idea for the both of us, but I was just too much into her to leave her be. She couldn't handle it again (or me?), so that was another failure, even in "let's just stay friends". At least I helped in getting into therapy to treat her depression, so I assume she will be fine after all.

But there was one I'd like to tell you about in particular. You know, after that other girl ended our friendship, I swore myself not to get into anything serious before I leave to safe me and others from further complications. And exactly as the saying goes, if you don't look for someone, someone will knock on your door.


Because after my Rikscha-driving-flatmate left, I had the pleasure of hosting two crazy Irish girls who were only 20 years of age. Allowing them to enter my house and life wasn't my brightest idea I admit, but because it made me meet Shannon, I will never regret this ever in my life.

Shannon was a bubbly, hilarously funny, curly-haired, freckled young girl with the loudest laugh ever. Her friend Sorcha was also super funny and together they were a wrecking crew of party and fun. Before I knew it, I was back in a student life, drinking and partying with the girls during the week, still having to work and all that. But they were on vacation in Germany and I was having my final days here, so fuck it I thought. I even bought them the (drinking) game Looping Louie just to entertain them and have a blast together. We watched Misfits together, drank massive amounts of alcohol and I showed the clubs of Berlin. Good times.

While Sorcha was mostly displaying a "I don't give a shit" attitude towards people and life, Shannon was clearly more a deep thinker with a very outgoing personality. That alone attracted me, not to mention her lovely smile and the way we were talking with each other everytime we met in the kitchen or the living room. We had a connection and sometimes it just clicks even if both people know this isn't going to last. Or maybe exactly because of it? We both didn't know, but we both felt it was right.

First I was a bit hesitant because I didn't want to exploit her. But the more I got to know her, the closer we got emotionally, the more I wanted to protect her, care for her and just be there for her. She had some shit to go through and being the knight in shiny armor as always, I had to save her from distress. One time, when we both went out to a club together and when I lost sight of her for over an hour, not knowing where she went or who with, I was so worried and so angry about her leaving me without any information, that I absolutely lost my shit, figuratevily speaking. When I finally found her again, still talking to the same lame Australian guy, I grabbed her and took her out of the club, shouted at her for her stupid actions and made a big deal of a probably not so dangerous situation.

This was when I realized that I have fallen in love with this young Irish girl.

Maybe I was a bit too over-protective, but all I could think of is to keep her from harm and make her happy. Drunk shouting and fighting outside a club in the morning isn't really looking like it, I know, but you might understand me though. She did at least. And from then on, we both knew that this was more than summer romance with a younger/older flatmate.

Her friend Sorcha didn't really understand that, I believe. Things escalated. To give an example: we got a call from some drunk girls from a party who haven't heard about Sorcha. They told me that she went out for a pee but never returned, hours ago. At a lake. In the middle of the night. Oh, did I mention that it was around 3am in the morning when I got the call? Of course I was worried. Shannon was with me and she was worried too. The drunks even took a boat to search for Sorcha on the lake, but they were drunk and stupid, so not really helpful. They were wondering if Sorcha went with a guy or if they should call the police. So there I was at 3am in the morning, wide awake by the adrenaline and my mind thinking about what to do. So we told them to call the police and I took the car there (25min ride) just to be greeted by a dead-drunk Sorcha, apologizing to me because she fell asleep in a bush in the neighbor's garden.

Oh I wasn't angry actually, I was just relieved that she was safe and that Shannon didn't have to worry anymore about her friend anylonger. Sorcha cried during the whole trip back, talking Irish and probably apologizing the whole time. I should have realized then that she was a time-bomb. Eventually, I had to kick her out of my flat simply because she was violently hostile towards me and didn't show any respect during her stay, not to mention her problem with hygiene and authorities. Pretty fucked up for someone studying law actually.

Shannon was torn between us, she was loyal to her friend but she didn't want to leave me, especially not when things were so dramatically escalating when I was about to call the police on 4am in the morning to have Sorcha kicked out of my flat. But there was Shannon the diplomat, the negotiator. She eased my mind, just by holding my hand and looking at me the way she always did. I trusted her with everything and she trusted me with everything.

I think I forgot was love was about for a long time. But then I met Shannon and she made me remember it. But I also had a plan for my future and I didn't see any room in there for her. It was breaking my heart, and hers. The harder we tried to make it seem less serious, the more we grew closer to each other, probably out of sheer helplessness.

Seeing her going back to Ireland was one of the hardest things I had to endure. I tried to stay strong but inside I was already thinking of ways to see her again. But I didn't have enough money to visit her before leaving to Japan. It wasn't good anyways. We had to follow our own path. Mine was in Japan, hers was in Ireland. There was no chance of our paths to meet unless we thought of a crazy thing to make them.

She is with another guy now. Again with the whole cutting-me-out-of-her-life thing I've experienced so many times before. She can't fully let go though and I can't either I guess. But I should and she should as well. Part of me still thinks of her. I want to know what she's been up to, want to talk about random things with her, loving the memory of everything related to her. But it's in the past and this is now. I'm in Japan now.

The universe sometimes laughs in your face with these things, doesn't it? Just when you are ready to go somewhere else you meet someone so special. My conclusion is though, that this is some sort of escape, maybe if one is too scared of the things ahead. It could also mean that one is more open to things if the mind is free of restrictions during such a special time in your life. Be it as it may, it is not something to be afraid of.

I hope she will be happy. She deserves all the happiness in the world.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

The master plan (part 2)

I should be studying for my big placement test at school this Thursday, but my blog doesn't write itself, so here we go again. Part 2 of the master plan.

We're still in March 2013, I wasn't really busy at work and used my spare time to browse the web in search of jobs or other options in Japan. Since my job hunt from a distance wasn't very successful so far, I thought about coming to Japan for a couple of months for on-site job hunt, maybe attending a language school to bring my Japanese up to speed again. After all I already had my flight booked and all that.

Forcing myself to use LinkedIn more I found a group called Internship Japan, run by a German lady in Tokyo who happened to work at a Japanese language named Tokyo Riverside School. I contacted her and she not only provided me with some useful information, she planted the seed of another thought in my head: becoming a student again, learning Japanese and doing internships before I start with a real job. It was a tempting idea. I thought, yeah why not? A couple of months wouldn't hurt and the school seemed quite cheap affordable to me. We exchanged a couple of emails and she even hooked me up with an IT contact and possible internship. This guy wasn't very cooperative thought because my original plan of doing an internship for only a couple of months wasn't very much to his liking.

While my head was spinning with the idea of becoming a student again, I took care of the biggest issue; the money. I'm not an Excel hero, but I'm quite good in setting up convenient and effictive Excel sheets to get what I want and save me the hassle of calculating everything by hand. I work as a salesman but numbers still confuse me and I don't really like money (there, I said it!).

I needed some reliable numbers for my plan, something that I could change on the way and updated with my incomings and expenditures. A look into the future to decide now if this is even possible from a money perspective.

It took me a couple of days but the result was a pretty one.

Blurred version from October 2013. Until September 2013 it was even more complicated.
What I basically did was to sum up my income and expenditures for each month, current bank balance (credit card, savings, everything), estimated salary, etc. and put them in a column for each month way into 2014. I did some wild guessing on my expenditures until I leave Germany and what I would spend living in Japan. I was very generous in my assumptions, allowing me to eat well and spend a lot on travelling. After asking lots of different people in Japan about rent and salaries, I put in these numbers in as well. So in the end, there was only one important number that I was interested in. The number at the end of September 2014.

It was deep red...and negative.

You should be aware that I was actually thinking about sub-letting my flat during my time in Japan. I met a nice couple (Japanese guy, Germany girl) who wanted to relocate to Berlin just around the same time I was thinking about moving to Tokyo, so we kinda made a deal that we would help each other. However, I had to charge them the minimum amount of rent and used that for my calculations. They were a really nice and friendly couple, we thought this actually might work out. I could even save some money by letting the flat to them. A quick calculation showed that giving up my flat wasn't really making me any more money and I wanted to have an emergency retreat in case things go bad in Japan.

I was more and more into the idea of becoming a language student so I could focus on my Japanese while taking my time to adjust to Japan and find a good job in Tokyo. But I had to enroll for 1 full year in order to get a student visa that even allowed me to work for 28 hours per week. Altogether that was around 5.000€ at that time (the Yen was a bit stronger then). I didn't have 5.000€ in my pocket. I could have raped my credit line and paid it, but in the long run it was a really bad idea and gave me headaches. The deep red negative number in my Excel sheet gave me baaaaad headaches.

No matter how I juggled the numbers, what income in Japan I assumed or how I cut down on spending money in Germany or Japan, it wasn't enough to pay the school and live in Japan.

I can dream, right?
 In my past I had to struggle with money a lot. I took me around 10 years to become debt-free. These debts weren't even mine but I still had to pay them and that's all I want to say about it. But I managed that and learned how to handle money perfectly in this hardest of all life lessons. I borrowed money from the bank three times in my life and paid back everything, so my credit score was actually perfect now, despite the 10 years of debts I had to go through. So I was thinking about taking another loan for Japan. Some people go crazy just by the idea of owing the bank money, but for me it was one of the most convenient and logical things to do. With deflation and low credit interests these days, the banks were almost throwing the money at you. But the tricky part was, with what money should I pay it back? I didn't have a job or an income in Japan yet. Even with a paid internship I would be hardly getting enough money to pay rent, food and a credit rate.

I needed help. I needed the worst help I can imagine; help in form of a friend's money.

There was only one person I could ask who had the financial security and more important the biggest heart I know. But I hesitated. I tried everything I could to tweak the numbers a bit so somehow in the end this whole endeavour seemed affordable. So I had to try and ask my best friend Anja, who was living in Vienna, Austria and who I was only seeing a couple of times per year. She still was my best friend however, having shared the best and the worst times together over the years. I hoped she would be able to help me financially but I was absolutely sure that she could at least help me with her advice and business skills. I needed someone to check on my Excel sheet and calculations, a sparring partner. She would be perfect for it but asking her for money was one of the most difficult things I ever had to do.

I decided to ask her in person. We already planned my visit for Easter in April, so that was well-timed. My Excel sheet was ready to be presented. be continued.

In part 3 I will write about the final decision and how it felt giving up a flat, a life and loved ones.

Monday, 9 December 2013

The master plan (part 1)

If you know me, you know I'm a planner. I like to make plans in detail and organize everything in advance. I do this for various reasons, but mainly to feel safe and secure with the things ahead of me and make decisions based on informations not emotions. It took me years to realize and admit that I'm actually super emotional and spontaneous with my decisions, but I still favor a good plan rather than jumping head over heels into the unknown. My current life in Japan is the fruit of my labor so to say and so far everything works according to plan (it just takes bloody longer than expected).

Soon after I returned to Germany after New Year in Japan, I felt a little sad and questioned my current life (and love) situation. In some way, I had it all. I had a well-paid job with a future, a cool car, a spacious and cheap appartment, a nice TV, I was debt-free and had good friends in Berlin and all over the world. Well, I had no girlfriend or partner and occasionally felt alone and my recent love encounters all ended in me being heart-broken more or less, but honestly I couldn't say I was unhappy. I was happy. Kind of.

I wasn't fully happy. I wanted more. Or to be precise, I wanted something else. I wanted a challenge. I wanted a change.

On my last trip to Japan I met incredible people again, each of them with their own story about why they wanted to come to Japan. Most of them had less work experience, less Japanese language skills, less money, less of everything compared to me actually, but they had a lot more of Japan compared to me. They lived here and I was just visiting. So I figured, if they can do it, why can't I? The answer came quick; because I didn't even try yet.

So back home, I thought: if I want change, I have to start changing. I have to put myself out there, go to Japan and really do some stuff, not the half-hearted attempts and fun tourist visits in the past, I really have to be in Japan. Of course I wanted family, more sooner than later. But because that wasn't working out so well, why not try it somewhere else? I might be some years too late for it, but I'm not old enough to do it now. Now or never.

I went public on FB, like I always do.
So my first idea was to find work in Tokyo from Germany. Or something similar, like working for a German company here and living in Tokyo. I was open to anything actually. With all the people I knew already, all the contacts from and related to Japan, I thought there must be a way for me to land a job there. That's what I thought at least. I thought about taking my time for the job search and leave home around summer or autumn 2013. Being loyal as I am, I didn't want to leave my co-workers alone and give them enough time to find a replacement instead. I was still unsure on when exactly I would drop the bomb on my boss, but it happened shortly after during a car ride back from a business trip.

I could hear the dissapointment in his voice, but he took it like the good boss he is. I made it very clear, that this was my sincere intention but until I haven't made a detailed plan with reliable results, there's no need to hand in my notice.

My first steps then were to contact my friends in and from Japan. One of them even used to work in HR. Lina provided me with a lot of email addresses and valuable advice. What I did then was to update my CV. I think I only updated my CV twice in my whole life, simply because I only needed it twice so far. Every interview I did in the past got me the job, so I definitely had to put in some work into updating. More important, I needed an English version of it. Lina suggested a Japanese version too, but I was neither fluent enough to write one nor did I focus on the Japanese (speaking) companies at that time.

It took some weeks to finalize a flashy CV with all the things I wanted to be in it. Next step was to send it out, with a neat and convincing cover letter. I gathered 24 email addresses to send it to, but 10 of them bounced back and guess what, maybe one or two of the remaining 14 ever replied...

But there were other options of course. I searched the internet, following suggestions from friends and put the bigger, English speaking companies into focus. I sent an online application to Rakuten, who supposedly changed their internal communication language fully to English. They were also hiring on general qualifications at that time, not necessarily for certain positions. I also tried VMware and HP, mainly for full-time consulting jobs, even when they were requiring a higher level of Japanese than mine. None of them worked out. Some sent me an automated negative reply, some didn't even care to reply.

We're now in March 2013. My intention was still strong, but I was wondering how I can really achieve what I wanted to. So I decided to increase the level of difficulty. I booked a flight to Tokyo for mid August, one-way ticket. I was pretty excited at this time and my friends and family all encouraged me in my plans. I don't think ther was one single person who doubted me or expressed their concern of possible failure. All of them believed that I can make it, even my boss. It was the best compliment ever, but also put so much pressure on me because I knew that failure would not be an option, neither to myself nor to the expectation of the others.

Funny enough, after posting about my booked flight to Tokyo, most people thought I already had found a job and began to congratulate me. So I had to tell them to be patient, but again it was a huge compliment and kept me going.

Some days before I booked my flight I have had a phone interview with Patrick, an American recruiter/headhunter in Tokyo. He was a friend of Daniel, the half American, half Japanese guy from Kobara senseis dojo in Kisarazu. Hooking me up with Patrick alone was proof to me that it's all about the contacts and connections in this world. The talk was pretty good but I was literally running out of breath because I was talking fast and walking about the flat during the phone call. But it was a promising phone interview and kept my spirits up.

The second phone interview I had was with a German recruiter working at another company in Tokyo. He was around my age and we had a nice chat about my plans and experiences. He assured me that my approach is quite legit and that he was around the same age when he did the same. He ended up as a recruiter though, which I heard many foreigners do apart from teaching. It seemed to me that he wasn't fully happy with his job, but money doesn't stink, right? The many compliments he made made me raise my eyebrow a little. Was he simply trying to sweet-talk me or was I really such a promising candidate?

I began to re-activate my account at LinkedIn, now that I had an English CV. Putting in all the information in English, especially my 13+ years of work experience was quite annoying, but it had to be done. Also, LinkedIn has a horrible site navigation and layout. That's why I wasn't really interested in using it, but with all the English speaking contacts and companies there, I simply had to start using it.

It soon proved to be a wise decision. I will tell you why in the 2nd part of my "master plan" :)

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Oh shit, I LIVE in Japan!

The title says it. I now live in Japan. It's still hard to believe but it feels more than real, I can tell you.

How this finally happened and why I'm writing this in English now instead of German, will be explained in the upcoming posts of my new, old blog.

For now, dear reader, let me update you with the hard facts first. I am currently a Japanese language student with an official foreign student visa (留学生ビザ). I live in Ryogoku, Sumida, Tokyo (東京都、墨田、両国) and study Japanese at Tokyo Riverside School in Asakusa, Tokyo.

I arrived in Tokyo on September 26th, so I'm here for almost 4 months. About time I start blogging again, right?

A lot of things happened since my arrival. Good and bad things alike, way too much to be written about in detail. But I will try my best to give you a summary of the important milestones and experiences so far. For now, just let me say that almost a year of planning, saving, selling, hoping, leaving and more planning lead to what I can happily call my life in Japan now.

This blog wouldn't be authentic if I wouldn't write about the emotional implications and obstacles related to my endeavours, so stay tuned for more ;-)

For now, here's a picture of me, maybe not looking super happy, but this is me now and I'm in Japan, so I think it fits pretty well. I look content, right?

Me at Otori Jinja during Tori-no-Ichi. Fun fact: the smiling lady is one of my teachers

I will try to post every other week and when there are important things to blog about of course. To give an outlook on the nexts posts, here are some titles I have in my mind:
  • The master plan
  • The things you leave behind
  • The arrival
  • The first crazy month
  • Settling in
  • I'm too lazy for all this
  • Set-backs and daily routines
  • Uhm, do I have a girlfriend now?
  • Christmas trials
  • ...and more

Oh and I even changed to blog title a bit. If you ever wondered why I chose this strange title in the first place, it's just a language thing. In German the expression "Scheisse, ich bin in Japan!" is like a sudden realization of something awesome in some sort of slang maybe. It sounds a bit stupid and too strong when translated to English. But I'll stick to it, there's no going back now.

Enjoy reading and stay tuned!

Monday, 4 February 2013

Jahreswechsel 2012/2013, Taiwan und Japan (Einleitung)

Werte Leser und Besucher.

Erneut habe ich mich in Richtung Japan aufgemacht, um Weihnachten und Neujahr nicht in Deutschland sondern lieber etwas untypisch zu verbringen. Da ich schon so oft überlegt habe auch mal nach Taiwan zu reisen und weil ich über die Jahre auch viele Online-Freunde in Taiwan gewonnen habe, beschloss ich das Schwierigkeitslevel zu erhöhen und von Deutschland nach Taiwan und dann von dort nach Japan zu reisen. Es liegt ja quasi "auf dem Weg" nach Japan.

Das Jahr 2012 war für mich äußerst hektisch und stressig. Mehr als ich aushalten konnte und mehr als ich je gedacht häte aushalten zu können. Meinen Urlaub hatte ich mir daher nicht nur redlich verdient, er war es auch der mich einigermaßen bei Verstand hielt, je näher der Dezember rückte.

Wie auch die Jahre zuvor in Japan wollte ich Taiwan aus Sicht der Einheimischen erleben, was natürlich auch das Nachtleben mit einschloss. Das es am Ende fast nichts anderes als Party wurde, war ein einkalkuliertes "Risiko". Natürlich freute ich mich auch sehr auf kulinarische und kulturelle Höhepunkte. Sogar einen Reiseführer habe ich mir gekauft, was für Taiwan gar nicht so einfach war.

Für Ruhe, Entspannung und den Jahresausklang wollte ich mir dann in Japan Zeit nehmen. Einzig der Besuch von Misako-san und ihren Zwillingsbabys in Nagoya und der Besuch des Dojos von Kobara-sensei waren fest geplante Programmpunkte, den Rest habe ich mir komplett offen gelassen und nur lockere Verabredungen getroffen. Ein bisschen Sorge hatte ich nur weil Weihnachten in Japan wohl das romantische Fest der Päärchen ist und ich als einsamer Single eher Depri schieben könnte. Andererseits dachte ich mir, vielleicht meint es ja dieses Jahr das Schicksal gut mit mir.

Auf jeden Fall hat diese Reise mir in vielen Dingen wieder gezeigt wer ich bin und was in mir steckt wenn ich mich nur mal außerhalb meiner festgefahrenen Strukturen bewege. Die Erfahrungen der knapp 3 Wochen führten zu einer lebensverändernden Entscheidung mit deren Umsetzung ich wohl 2013 gut beschäftigt sein werde.

Aber lest selbst :)

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

18. Tag (Letzter Tag in Japan)

Ich muss schon um 10 Uhr aufstehen und mein Zimmer wechseln. Auch ne Art das neue Jahr zu beginnen. Glücklicherweise ist mein anderer Raum schon beinahe fertig. Kentaro-san putzt grad noch zu Ende und schon kann ich mein Zeugs umladen. Kentaro sagt "Gute Nacht" als er fertig ist und ich weiß gar nicht was er meint. Aber nach einer kurzen Weile merke ich es doch und lege mich "sicherheitshalber" doch noch mal hin für ein Schläfchen. Daraus werden dann ein paar Stunden...

Saori hat sich bislang immer noch nicht gemeldet. Bis auf die "I miss you" Nachricht mitten in der Nacht habe ich keinerlei Antwort erhalten und ich verstehe einfach nicht warum. Also versuche ich meinen Tag erstma ohne sie zu verplanen, weiß jedoch nicht so recht was ich machen soll.

Ich beschließe nach Asakusa zu gehen und von dort aus nach Ueno zu laufen. Muss mir ja noch ein Ticket für morgen früh für den Keisei Skyliner holen, damit ich auch pünktlich am Flughafen ankomme.

Die Strassen sind abgesperrt und es ist bombenvoll. Die Polizei hat ein super Organisationssystem für die Massen, überall stehen Posten und spielen quasi Fußgängerampel. Das Wetter ist toll, richtig sonnig.

Das Ticket in Ueno zu kaufen ist mittlerweile richtig Routine, ich bekomme es fast ohne ein Wort Englisch. Der Rückweg von Ueno ist mir dann doch wieder zu lang, also nehme ich die proppevolle Bahn. Nicht schlecht für die Mittagszeit.

Weil es sich angeblich so gehört, gehe ich dann in Asakusa erstma Soba (そば) essen, mit Tempura drin. Sehr lecker!

Gegen 14 Uhr schaffe ich es noch den Löwen (獅子) zu sehen und lasse mich standesgemäß in den Kopf "beissen". Soll Glück für das neue Jahr bringen.

In der Nähe spielt eine kleine Gruppe von Strassenkünstlern Anime-Szenen nach und nutzen für ihre Kostüme nur Pappe und Plastik, echt cool gemacht und sehr unterhaltsam.

Mann, ist das voll hier heute. Echt beliebt der Senso-ji zu Neujahr.

Nach dem Koffer packen und einem erneuten Schläfchen zieht es mich am Abend erneut in die Bar, pure Langeweile vor dem Heimflug.

Ich rede mit einem Iraner über das schlechte amerikansiche Bildungssystem, von dem er aber gut profitiert hat. Er mag prollige Golduhren und lässt einen fast gar nicht zu Wort kommen. War keine wirkliche Unterhaltung, eher ein Monolog mit Stichwortgeber (moi).

Eine Mutti mit Tochter setzt sich zu mir. Sie erzählt mir auf Englisch von ihrer Norwegenreise und zeigt mir Bilder auf dem iPhone. Vor lauter Aufregung löscht sie sogar ein, zwei Bilder beim Erzählen. Die Tochter spricht fast perfekt Englisch, ist aber genervt von ihrer Mutti und wartet lieber ab. Irgendwann gehen sie dann auch wieder. Skurrile Begegnung aber amüsant.

Auftritt Gareth, Eva und namenlose (uninteressante) Amerikanerin. Gareth und Eva kommen aus England, genauer gesagt aus Bristol. Eva ist ziemlich hot und rothaarig. Alle  unterrichten in Okayama und sind echt cool drauf. Hatten aber gestern schon zu viel gefeiert, vor allem Gareth. Eva lässt sich aber ermutigen noch ein bisschen was zu trinken. Ihr englischer Akzent ist wirklich angenehm, so wie die restliche Erscheinung.

Akira-san macht heute die Bar und man merkt ihm an, dass er eigentlich gar keinen Bock hat. Er hat wahrscheinlich mehr zu tun als er dachte an Neujahr zu tun haben zu müssen.

Joanna kommt spontan vorbei und trinkt ihren letzten Sake mit mir. Sie kriegt sogar einen mit Gold drin (ich später dann auch). Sie spricht über den Typen von gestern nacht und dass der Sex "amazing" war. Ich glaub sie hat sich etwas verknallt. Ach Mädel, das bringt doch nix. Sie eröffnet mir aber auch, dass sie etwas enttäuscht war, dass ich es nicht bei ihr probiert habe. Naja, schon irgendwie ein Kompliment aber ich wusste schon warum ich es lieber gelassen habe.

Heute bin ich aber etwas draufgängerischer...und angetrunken (ist das das gleiche?). Ich setze es mir in den Kopf mit Eva anzubändeln. Als sie nach oben geht um eine zu rauchen gehe ich einfach hinterher und probiere es dreist mit Komplimenten. Da sie seit Monaten ohne ihren Freund und scheinbar ohne jegliche körperliche Interaktion mit einem Mann lebt, klappt das sogar erstauntlich leicht. Wir knutschen wie Teenager und es gefällt uns beiden sehr.
Leider will Akira bereits die Bude zu sperren und sitzt uns etwas im Nacken. Schade, hätten länger knutschen können. Ich bringe sie aber noch ins Khaosan Annex und dort gibt es auch noch einen Abschiedskuss. Ihr Flug geht morgen, genau wie meiner. Bis auf ihren Vornamen und ihren Heimatort weiß ich eigentlich gar nichts von ihr...

Das war er dann, der letzte Abend in Japan. Immerhin hat er mit etwas Leidenschaft geendet, auch wenn die Person vielleicht nur ein Ersatz war...

Ab zurück nach Deutschland. Zurück in den Alltag. Zurück in ein Leben, das mir immer uninteressanter vorkommt. Ich will etwas ändern. Ich muss etwas ändern. Diese kleinen oder großen Abenteuer sind am Ende nur Abenteuer und übertönen das, was wirklich nach mir ruft. Andere haben den Ruf gehört oder sind einfach trotzdem hier, mit weniger Erfahrung, weniger Wissen, von allem einfach weniger als ich. Sollte ich es dann auch nicht schaffen können?

Auf dem Rückflug habe ich viel darüber nachgedacht was mir eigentlich im Wege steht ein Leben in Japan zu versuchen. Am Ende war es immer die gleiche Antwort.

Ich selbst.

Zeit das zu ändern.

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

17. Tag (New Year's Eve im Club Asia)

Ich schlafe erneut lange um Kräfte zu sparen. Eigentlich habe ich keine Lust auf irgendwas, außer auf den Abend. Bin sogar etwas aufgeregt würde ich sagen. Mein erstes Silvester in Japan!

Da Saori mich am Sonntag mehr oder wenig ignoriert hat, bin ich nicht so gut auf sie zu sprechen. Ich glaube sie spielt einfach mit mir oder hat schlichtweg keinen Bock mehr. Ich weiß, dass sie seit 8 Uhr arbeitet und sehe sie natürlich auch als ich mir Schlappen hole. Wir kommen aber erst wieder ins Gespräch als ich alleine in der Küche sitze und sie überraschend hereinkommt, um ihre Pause zu machen.

Ich spreche die Situation an und wie es scheint haben wir beide das Gleiche vom anderen gedacht, nämlich, dass es dem anderen nicht ernst ist und dass die Situation einfach zu schwierig wird wenn wir weitermachen. Trotzdem ist da etwas und wir berühren uns wo wir nur können, natürlich immer so, dass die Kamera es nicht sieht. Wir sprechen uns etwas aus, was meine Stimmung etwas hebt. Eine Aussicht auf ein Wiedersehen ist aber immer noch zu gering. Verdammt, warum muss ich mir denn IMMER die schwierigen Fälle aussuchen?! Saori arbeitet heute in der Bar, also werde ich dort den Abend starten und dann mit Joanna losziehen.

Lerne Niklas kennen, einen Berliner, der momentan in München lebt. Er kommt gerade aus Neu-Kaledonien wo er Freunde besucht hat. Ganz schön weit weg. Er war schon mal vorher in Japan. Er hat auch noch keinen Plan was er heute abend machen will, also lade ich ihn natürlich ein, er kennt ja den Treffpunkt am Hachiko. Besonders viel quatschen wir aber im Hostel nicht.

Ich sehe einen grandiosen letzten Sonnenuntergang auf dem Dach des Hostels.

Ich habe Riesenhunger, also frage ich Saori wo es in der Nähe einen Gyoza-Laden gibt. In dem kleinen Buch für Restaurants in der Nähe fällt mein Blick dann auf Yakitori und ich ändere meine Meinung. Nichtmal jetzt können wir es vermeiden uns zu berühren, obwohl es direkt in der Rezeption ist.

Der Laden ist direkt neben der Asakusa-Station der Ginza-Line und mir schon tausend Mal aufgefallen. Von aussen sieht er aus wie eine bessere Bretterbude und nicht wirklich vertrauenswürdig. Von innen sieht der Laden aber extrem cool und offen aus. Ein rustikaler Charm aus selbstgebautem, dauer-improvisiertem und bunten Dingen. Definitiv ein Laden, den ich öfters besuchen sollte. Ich bestelle 6 Spieße, davon 2x mit Leber. Ach herrlich, ich liebe das Zeug einfach. Und günstig es auch noch! 660 Yen für 6 Spieße finde ich super! Beim Gehen öffnet die Chefin (?) sogar extra noch mal die Tür und sagt auf Englisch Danke und auf Wiedersehen, wie süß.

Es gibt nix zu tun außer wieder ein Schläfchen zu machen, also so sei es. Nachdem das erledigt ist mache ich mich fertig und begebe mich gegen 18:45 in Richtung Bar. Ich hebe tatsächlich noch mal 10.000 Yen ab, einfach weil ich denke ich sollte ruhig spendabler sein zur Feier des Jahres. Auf dem Hinweg kommt mir eine flott-laufende Saori auf der anderen Strassenseite entgegen. Häh, müsste sie nicht die Bar aufmachen?! Der Holländer vom Help-Staff wartet auch schon auf sie, genau so wie Joanna. Haha, wie Asi, wir warten darauf, dass eine Bar öffnet. Irgendwann kommt sie dann aber auch und ist etwas durch den Wind. Wir bestellen ein, zwei Drinks und Niklas stößt auch zu uns. Da Ashley absagt und lieber in einen günstiger Club mit einem VIP-Ticket geht, wird Niklas quasi ihren Platz übernehmen, auch gut. Wir sind etwas spät dran und machen uns erst gegen 20 Uhr auf den Weg zur U-Bahn. Blöde Ginza-Line, so mistig heiß und so langweilig. Aber immerhin haben wir Zeit zum quatschen.

Es kommt raus, dass Niklas vor 4 Jahren bei Bosch ein 6monatiges Praktikum gemacht hat. Das Bosch Gebäude in Shibuya diente mir immer als Orientierungspunkt auf meinem Weg zum Dojo. Und wieder ein interessanter Zufall, dessen Bedeutung ich nicht erahnen kann. Ich frage ihn etwas zu den Möglichkeiten und Umständen einen Job in Japan zu bekommen. Er erklärt mir, dass es an sich gar nicht so schwierig ist, man muss nur die entsprechenden Firmen kennen und anschreiben. Gerade die Automobilindustrie ist stark in Japan vertreten und bieten Möglichkeiten für diverse Studiengänge an.

Er erzählt von seinen Erfahrungen in dem ihm zugeteilten Dorm. Er ist spät abends in der ersten Nacht gleich mit einem Gast aufgetaucht und das ging ja wohl gar nicht für die Japaner. Mit Ach und Krach haben die es für eine Nacht dann doch erlaubt. Überall Regeln, sehr typisch.

Das Praktikum bei Bosch war super sagt er. Er hatte ein gutes Verhältnis zum Chef, der trotz japanischer Herkunft doch recht Deutsch geworden ist. Selbst als Niklas mal großen Mist mit der Stock-Datenbank gebaut hat weil er zu viele Queries abgesetzt hat und das System für satte 3 Tage ausfiel, kam er noch mal mit dem Schrecken davon. Sogar gut bezahlt wird das Praktikum bei Bosch. Hmmmmm....der Mann bringt mich auf Ideen. Zumal er gar nicht mal wirklich Japanisch spricht.

Am Hachiko treffen wir Tim und seine Freundin Nancy (Australo-Chinesin), der Rest der Truppe ist aber noch nicht da. Wir laufen aber schon mal los und finden es auf Anhieb. Es hat nur gar nicht geöffnet also gehen Niklas, Joanna und ich noch was trinken während Tim und Nancy warten. Niklas kennt eine coole Bar im 15. Stock in der Nähe, tolle Aussicht, echt schick.

Der Tresen!

Ich glaub ich trinke da wirklich einen Appletini...

Als Joanna mal auf dem Klo ist reden wir über Beziehungen und über seine ihn einengende japanische Ex-Freundin und die Probleme mit dem Kulturunterschied. Fühle mich da sehr bestätigt und verstanden. Er scheint mir aber eher ein typischer Kerl zu sein, der seinen Freiraum braucht. Vielleicht bin ich ja mittlerweile jetzt auch so?

Nach den Drinks gehen wir zum Club Asia. In der Schlange werden wir von jemandem angesprochen, der scheinbar heute DJ ist. Wir kommen für wesentlich weniger rein, einfach weil er uns auf seine Gästeliste gesetzt hat. Geilo!

Der Club ist richtig cool. Es gibt einen großen Techno-Floor, einen kleinen Irgendwas-Floor mit zentraler Bar und sogar einen Drum'n Bass Floor. Ach schön, hier bleib ich. An der Treppe steht auch gleich ein großes Fass Gratis-Sake über das wir dann auch gleich herfallen.

Niklas kommt im Club nicht richtig in die Gänge, kann ihn aber verstehen. Berliner sind halt verwöhnt was elektronische Musik angeht. Die Musik ist nicht allererste Sahne aber auch nicht schlecht.

Ich kippe freien Sake so oft ich kann, wer weiß ob es Nachschub gibt. Beim Faß quatscht mich ein Japaner und will mit mir anstossen. Da ich aus Deutschland bin spricht er gleich auf Shinji blabla an, den Fußballer bei Dortmund oder irgendwo.

Die Gruppe von Tim ist ziemlich jung und ziemlich schwul. Sehen alle aus wie das Paradebeispiel eines Hipster, gehen aber alle ab wie Schmidts Katze. Die Mädels tragen alle Perücken und wechseln wild hin und her, kann sie irgendwann gar nicht mehr unterscheiden. Einer der Jungs will wohl mit mir knutschen, aber so betrunken werde ich heute definitiv nicht sein, auch wenn ich das schon fast süß von ihm finde (uh oh, kommt da der Appletini durch?).

Ab und zu schaue ich auf dem DnB Floor vorbei wo es teilweise so cool ist, dass ich einfach nur über beide Ohren grinse. Scheint hier richtig ne DnB Community zu geben, haben oft DNB JPN T-Shirts an. Muss ich mal recherchieren.

Die Stimmung ist Bombe, es ist super voll auf dem Mainfloor. Es gab zwar keinen Sake-Nachschub aber die Drinks sind auch nicht von schlechten Eltern. Wir feiern, tanzen und freuen uns auf den Countdown. Es ist so eng, dass man sich nicht mehr bewegen kann als es los geht. Ich finds einfach krass und einfach toll! Prost Neujahr!!

Zum mitternächtlichen Höhepunkt wird plötzlich Ponponpon gespielt!!! Ich rast aus! Alle rasten aus! Sogar eine Sängerin kommt auf die Bühne auf dem Mainfloor, das wird doch nicht die Tante höchstpersönlich sein?! Nee, sieht anders aus...


Jetzt wird erst komischerweise erst RICHTIG voll. Die ganzen Gaijin hauen ab und die Japaner nehmen ihre Plätze ein. Ich dance mit Joanna, mit irgendwelchen Mädels, sogar mit ner Japanerin (glaube ich). Puuh, hier ist was los. Joanna ist mega dicht und mega happy. Wir müssen so langsam auf sie aufpassen. Der Schweiß der gesammelten Menge sammelt sich in einem engen Treppengang und rinnt von den Wänden. Einmal dagegen gestolpert ist das komplette T-Shirt nass.

Irgendwann sehe ich Joanna und Niklas wild knutschen. Auch ne Art auf sie aufzupassen. Nik der alte Abstauber. Sie düsen dann auch früh zusammen ab, wahrscheinlich ins Love-Hotel. Obwohl ich eigentlich kein Interesse an Joanna hatte weil ich sie einfach als coole Freundin sehe, bin ich natürlich doch etwas pikiert. Aber ich freue mich auch, denn Spaß werden beide sicherlich haben, hehe.

Nachdem ich planlos diverse Male im Club hin und her gelaufen bin ohne wirklich wissen was ich jetzt von wem und von der Nacht will, folge ich einfach den Gruppe von Tim als sie sich bereit machen zu gehen. Sie wollen noch einen Kebap essen, wie man hier sagt. Wie geil, ein Döner Kebap Stand, direkt neben dem Club. Und genau so wie ich ihn auch mag, nur grüner Salat, Fleisch und Soße. Die Portion ist lächerlich klein, aber genau richtig für jetzt.

Döner macht schöner, auch in Japan
Den Heimweg bestreite ich allein. Bin genervt von den ganzen Massage-Angeboten auf dem Weg. Alle quatschen einen dumm an.

Mache in Asakusa einen Abstecher zum Senso-ji, der bereits gut besucht ist. Die Polizei mit Wegeleitsystemen ist omnipräsent. Zum ersten Mal wünsche ich mir was im Tempel; einfach nur die große Liebe zu finden.


Bin emotional etwas angeschlagen, war zu erwarten.

Happy New Year! Ein Frohes Neues Jahr! 明けましておめでとう!