I'm Leaving Japan.
I was a hard decision. I guess living here for the last 6 years has made me comfortable with life in Tokyo. In the end though I didn't feel I could make a living here, at least not making video games. I looked for other jobs but in the end I couldn't see myself leaving games easily and if I'm staying in games then Japan is not the place to do it. It sounds counterintuitive, Japan makes great games, unfortunately they do it by paying almost nothing.
If I was 25 that would be fine but I'm 41 now and I can't keep doing it knowing that I'm giving up any kind of future. The only workable option might be to start my own company but I don't have a clear vision for that at the moment.
Some other things contributed as well. The first time I was here in 1998 I made some close Japanese friends at work. This time though that didn't happen. I couldn't really say exactly why. I can say there was a huge difference in the atmospheres of the two companies. The first one felt like a big family. The second one felt like lots of individuals that just happened to be sitting in the same room. A friend recently started there and she commented on it as well, so much so she's only been their a month and already wants to quit.
A different company or more effort might have fixed that but either way I know that problem will be fixed going back because I'm going to be working with close friends this time. Something I've really missed.
So, I'm moving back to the states. San Francisco to be specific. Of course I'm a little apprehencive. I have lots of friends here in Tokyo and I'll miss them. I also love Tokyo. It's great city with lots of fun stuff to do and great food and it's safe.
People ask if I have any regrets and I do have one giant regret. I never had a Japanese girlfriend. Pretty strange for a white guy in Japan. I met lots of women but none of them clicked. Well, there were a few who I fell head over heals for but they didn't want me. As well there were a few who fell for me that for some reason I couldn't get interested in. Attraction is a strange thing. I know one other factor is being in my late 30s early 40s I was always looking for a wife, not just a girlfriend and so unless I was sooo attracted as to ignore that feeling then most women got passed through the lens of long term and didn't seem to fit. With a few it was a timing issue.
Of course just having a girlfriend would have been nice but being in Japan and not having had a Japanese girlfriend means I missed out on a ton of experiences. Cultural things I would have been asked to participate in. Japanese TV I would have been asked to watch. Some might consider that torture but with someone to explain the cultural references or even some of the jokes I might have at least a slightly better understanding. Another example, I never learned any slang. Non, zero, zilch, nada.
But, that's water under the bridge. I'm outta here. I should be gone by the end of January. I'm looking forward to starting the next step of my life and seeing where it leads.