Five months until Tokyo

Life's lemons
Life’s lemons

I have some good news to report! Well sort of. Well not actually. But it is news. Okay here goes: I might be losing my job in July…

I know, it kind of sucks. But there’s a good side which I’ll get to in a moment.

“But Matt, I thought you were so smart and we like your writing so therefore you’re probably a great employee too?” Thanks, I appreciate what you’re saying. I know, it’s probably not the kind of news you were expecting. But when life gives you lemons, you make lemonade. Just make sure you drink it quickly because thanks to terrorism you can’t take lemonade on your flight to Japan.

That’s right, I’m applying to go to Japan early! I’ve been planning since last summer to go in springtime 2016, but the oil industry has taken a bit of a dive lately, which has foiled my plans somewhat. It’s good for the planet, but still it means I’m out of a job. But you know what? I won’t let a cartel of moustache-twirling Saudis dictate when I can and can’t go to Japan! I just don’t have it in me! I’m bringing my plans forward.

Application for a student visa

I’m presently doing my student visa application for entry into Japan in October this year. That means that five months from now, I might really be in Japan! Very exciting. I’m applying to a language school in Tokyo, and as luck would have it, it’s only 20 minutes’ walk from the dojo I want to train aikido at. Everything’s falling into place now. I’m planning to go there for year, but I might stay longer or shorter depending on how much I like it.

There are so many things I’m looking forward to. First up will be listening to Asian Kung-Fu Generation on shuffle for 14 hours. Then when I arrive I’ll get to drink the cheapest shochu I can afford in an authentic smokey izakaya – I can feel my eyes sting just thinking about it! And what about designing the perfect spreadsheet to neatly track all the money I’m not to spend? I’m getting tingles all over!

I’ll have my application sent off within a week from now. After that it’ll be save, save, save, and I should probably start brushing up my Japanese. Break out the flashcards! I’ll also have to pull my socks up and start tying up all my loose ends. The wheels are in motion.

There’s a chance still that I won’t go in October – if I do get to keep my job, then I’ll make a decision at that time whether I want to defer my application for entry in January 2016 so that I can save more and have more financial security when I make my trip. But by that point I might just say screw it and go anyway. I’ll leave that decision up to future-me.


It’s quite a scary prospect. Living abroad can really push you out of your comfort zone, but I know it’ll make me grow as a person. It’s my dream and I know I’ll achieve it. I first researched living in Japan over ten years ago and now I’m making it a reality. That just puts such a smile on my face!

People say it’s hard to follow your dreams, and they’re right. But you know what? It’s even harder to turn your back on them and live a life wishing you’d have done things differently. People say carpe diem – seize the day. But don’t just seize the day – seize your life. People cringe at the phrase YOLO, but it’s true: you only live once. Make it count! Dreams are hard, but it makes achieving them taste that much sweeter. I want everyone who reads this to never give up on what’s important to them.

Follow me achieving mine, and let me follow you achieving yours!

Matt Bowen

Matt is a blogger, budoka and software developer. He sold his things, quit his job and moved to Japan to study Japanese and martial arts. Sometimes he writes about it.

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