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  • As usual I'm late to my own Japanniversary, and my eighth year in Japan as already begun.

  • But that doesn't mean we can't celebrate, right?!

  • Done *heehee*

  • That's what I wanted this video to be about

  • But the more I thought about it, the harder it seemed to put my experiences into little boxes

  • and tie them up neatly with a ribbon.

  • I've shared so many of my experiences here in Japan with you guys

  • whether through video, or pictures on Twitter and Instagram

  • and back when I used Facebook

  • and the thing is I don't like boxes, I don't like labels, and experiences can easily become generalisations.

  • or even play up to stereotypes.

  • So I turned to Google to check in on what exactly Japan....is.

  • "What is Japan?"

  • Okay so that didn't really help. So I tried Japanese as well,

  • and what struck me was that many of the searches that showed pages about how Japan was perceived over-seas

  • and through the eyes of non-Japanese.

  • Eureka! Here it is!

  • Everybody is interested in everybody else,

  • and generalisations are the framework that helps us to understand things that would otherwise be strange or weird and foreign to us!

  • Maybe it's not such a bad thing to put things in boxes once in a while...

  • Even if I'm really bad at it.

  • I turned to Twitter and I asked you guys to ask me questions

  • specifically about my life in Japan

  • and you guys turned out!

  • So I'm going to do my best to answer these questions

  • and there might be a few Q&As that come out after this video because it's a lot to cover.

  • "How were your first three months in Japan" "Did you miss your family and home?"

  • and "was it hard to adjust to living in Japan?"

  • So the first six months here were super-duper hard, and partly that was due to working in a really horrible job!

  • And the company just was *uugghhhhh* so bad!

  • So bad.

  • Food was really hard to figure out at first

  • I had to learn *so* many kanji

  • I felt a lot of culture shock just walking through the super market and not knowing what the best brand for this or that was

  • and not being familiar with anything

  • and having to read these things really carefully like,

  • I didn't have, like, Google Translate app on an iPhone. I didn't even have an iPhone!

  • So I couldn't just take a picture and like translate stuff.

  • I had to learn a lot of kanji and I would just like avoid stuff if I didn't understand it

  • so there was a huge steep learning curve and it was a very tough time for me

  • You know, my Japanese wasn't great and I was super shy, like just horribly shy!

  • So it was really hard for me to even use the Japanese that I had.

  • So the situation I was in was very bad, and um...

  • just a bunch of things added together to make for a very toxic situation

  • where I was quite depressed and I would ring my mum every night and I would basically just cry every single day

  • and yeah, but I got through that

  • It wasn't like I was hating Japan, it was just like a really rough situation for me.

  • Thanks to that terrible situation I learnt so much!

  • I overcame so much and I moved on and up!

  • Like that really helped me to never get in a bad bad job situation again

  • and to not be afraid to quit if things get really bad.

  • So like, I've always been like a stickler for rules and contracts and stuff

  • but like, at the end of the day if you're in a really crappy work situation or housing situation

  • and you can see a way out, take it! You won't regret it!

  • I got out of that situation and it was honestly the best thing I could have done for myself

  • and I moved onward and upwards! Yaaaaay!

  • So yeah, the first six months were super hard though.

  • I was asked 'what are the differences between Japan and New Zealand?' but that's going to be a separate video

  • because it got loong.

  • "What do I miss about New Zealand?"

  • Mostly I miss the beaches, I miss family, and I miss my friends

  • and I feel like I've lost a lot of my friends because I've just lost touch with them

  • like, people can just watch my videos and know what's going on with me

  • but like, I can't do that to any of my friends

  • so I really don't know what's going on with most of them

  • it's, you know, it's really sad!

  • 'cause I still love them! But I feel like I've lost them.

  • I've been here a long time.

  • Tove asks; "how welcoming is Japan towards people from other countries? Did you feel accepted or stared at when you came there?"

  • So first of all I stick out, I mean I have blue hair, I have tattoos, I have...I'm white!

  • So I stick out. So people do look at me.

  • and they do look at me curiously and sometimes they stare.

  • When it comes to feeling like an outsider, being able to understand Japanese culture and language helps a lot

  • being able to speak Japanese will break down a lot of those walls

  • and I find that generally people are very kind, and very very curious

  • and sometimes people will be frustrated by the kinds of questions people ask

  • and they'll ask the same questions over and over again, and they'll make certain assumptions

  • but I actually just think of that as a like 'small talk', and especially after spending seven years here

  • it's just, you know, it's just small talk, getting to know you

  • and they're just showing an interest most of the time.

  • What has helped me a lot is making videos in Japanese on YouTube means that people who watch my videos

  • will often come up to me and just talk to me in Japanese very naturally

  • Maybe I'm not the best representation of what a 'foreigner in Japan' is

  • but I feel like we need to break down some of those stereotypes

  • especially that TV really loves to portray a very certain image of what a foreigner in Japan is and what they like

  • and kind of sometimes plays to stereotypes

  • whereas I think on YouTube we have this opportunity to kind of break that down a little bit

  • Making videos in Japanese has a really great side to it and a really dark side to it

  • like some of the stuff that people have said to me has been absolutely horrible

  • and like, really out there, and not nice and has made me, you know, feel kind of like

  • I really hope that, you know, that when I'm walking down the street people aren't thinking this about me

  • but at the end of the day, mean people exist everywhere

  • like I don't think I've experienced any level of negativity higher than what I would have experience in New Zealand

  • except online, and that's just a whole, a whole other thing.

  • Okay, if I had lipstick on my teeth for any of those questions I'm really sorry

  • Kittycat mob asks; "has it gotten easier to be vegetarian/vegan in Japan or is it still difficult to find restaurants/cafes?"

  • I think yes if you live in Tokyo, I still think it's quite limited and that it helps a lot if you can read Japanese.

  • One question I really like was; "If you could put all those seven years into one kanji, what kanji would it be?"

  • And the kanji I would choose is 'ai' or 'love'

  • When it comes to taking on a new adventure, you really have to go in to it with love

  • and you will find love!

  • "Funniest experience with a foreigner?" this got a lot of favourites.

  • Okay, I've got two!

  • So there used to be this Indian restaurant me and Duncan would go to a lot because it was like *amazing*

  • we love Indian food

  • and I would take a lot of friends and family members there

  • and then one time I took my friend from New Zealand there.

  • The waiter came up to me and pointed at my friend and was like 'mama?'

  • *cringe* oh my god! It was so embarrassing! We're like the same age!

  • I felt so bad but it was hilarious!

  • There's this guy I knew when I first came to Japan

  • and he'd come to Japan because he'd really wanted to see in real life

  • scenes from the movie 'Life of a Geisha'

  • and that was the reason, that was it...

  • Kenji asks; "Did your JLPT level help you get jobs in Japan preYouTube?"

  • I like the assumption that like I don't need a job because I do YouTube, but...

  • I've never been asked to show anyone a JLPT score

  • I don't think that anyone in like the fashion and make up industries really thinks to ask 'hey, do you have JLPT level one?!'

  • Whereas if you're doing something very very like 'professional' where a language is very very important

  • like a slip up can cause big trouble

  • like for instance law, I'm pretty sure someone would ask 'hey! show me your JLPT score!' but, yeah!

  • Bronwyn asks; "what is your happiest moment ever whilst in Japan?"

  • When we got Latte and when we got Cinnamon. Those were super happy moments.

  • The birthday party that my friends threw for me this year was very special to me

  • Meeting Duncan. Obviously! Because, I mean, you guys know what he means to me.

  • Doing free hugs. I think the feeling that I get after I do free hugs is the most special feeling in the world and I really need to do it again soon.

  • Being able to show my friends and family around Tokyo has been a really happy thing

  • You know that happy feeling you get when you discover a nice cafe?

  • I get this feeling, it might not be happiness, but just such love when I look down on Tokyo from a high place.

  • The feeling I get after I release a video. That's usually a really happy feeling.

  • When someone on the internet says 'I love you Mimei!' ....it's pretty happy!

  • The world is not an easy place, it's tough! It's tough to deal with it.

  • But there is so many happy moments, and I'm so grateful for all of them

  • And remembering them, it's giving me warm fuzzies.

  • Oh and the moment I decided to move to Tokyo, and I made the leap and move to Tokyo.

  • A lot of you guys might not even know this but I've actually lived in several different places in Japan

  • and it took me a while to work myself up to living in Tokyo. Like I kind of worked my way up to Tokyo.

  • and I'm so glad I did! This city is just like endless, gorgeous, crazy, beautiful, wonderful, lovely!

  • "Did you have a difficult time making friends when you first moved to Japan? What did you do to meet people?"

  • Short answer: yes I did have a difficult time making friends when I moved to Japan

  • and doing YouTube has brought me together with a lot of people.

  • "How do you battle the fear of speaking Japanese? and the fear of possibly messing up?"

  • "I get anxious and forget basic stuff"

  • Oh, I still get anxious and forget basic stuff!

  • Like, even in English! If you guys could see this video without jump cuts it would sound like a mess!

  • A very big mess. See I just did it there.

  • So basically you just have to keep doing it.

  • That anxiety isn't necessarily going to go away

  • I know, it's not fun! But it might not go away. You just have to keep doing the thing.

  • So no matter how scared you are, keep doing the thing and laugh at your own mistakes.

  • and don't take it too personally if people laugh at your mistakes

  • just let go of that, let go of that! Be a little bit shameless

  • and like, just laugh at yourself because mistakes are funny!

  • Mami asks; "There are many earthquakes in Japan, what are you gonna do if the big one happens in Tokyo? Back to New Zealand or stay?"

  • So I wanted to talk about this because when I was thinking about this video

  • one of the major events that's happened in my life in Japan was the 3/11 earthquake here which was huge

  • It was when I'd just moved from Gifu to Tokyo and I was in my apartment alone

  • and it was very scary

  • Let's face it! If a big quake hits the Kantō area, I could die!

  • I mean, it's a possibility, and every time there's even a small quake here I get a bit scared

  • my little fur babies could be in danger, and I worry about Duncan's safety

  • and I worry about being separated in a disaster, and I worry about what would happen to the cats

  • and I also got asked 'do I feel like Japan is a foreign country?'

  • I mean, Japan is different from New Zealand but it is my home right now

  • and I have- you know, everything I have here I've built up over the last seven years, and that's a big deal!

  • Like if I went back to New Zealand I would be starting from zilch!

  • I don't imagine myself like running back to New Zealand the moment there's a quake

  • I don't like to speculate about the future because like anything could happen

  • I don't know what that situation might be, like

  • you know, what if I was badly injured in a quake

  • maybe I would decide to go back to a place where I have family

  • because I don't have any family aside from Duncan in Japan

  • like, his family won't have anything to do with us, so you know...

  • There's so many factors and a lot of them are very specific to my situation, I think

  • and what would happen in that situation, which we can't really speculate about

  • let's just hope that we all live long, healthy, safe lives!

  • That was friggin' depressing!

  • Okay I'm not answering anymore earthquake questions because they don't put me in a very good state of mind.

  • "What is your favourite place in Tokyo?" or "What is your favourite place in Japan?"

  • and I've answered the Japan question before, and Tokyo- I show you guys everything in my videos

  • Literally if you want to know all my favourite places in Japan they're all here

  • I show them to you guys and also on my Mimei channel

  • my 'day in the life' videos, I make sure to pack as much good stuff in to them as possible!

  • "What is the weirdest thing, your interpretation of weird, that you've experienced while in Japan?"

  • "How many things did you know about Japan before you moved there?"

  • and "when did you start seeing Japan as 'not weird'?"

  • So i've put all these questions together.

  • So, um, one of the things that I did see and think was a bit weird when I saw it

  • was I saw this tourist walking down the street dressed as like a bunny lolita

  • and I was like 'oh, weird'

  • but then I was like 'hey, you go girl!' like...why not?!

  • I studied Japanese culture, literature, and history academically before I came to Japan

  • and I also read a lot of blogs about Japan, and all that kinda good stuff

  • and I consumed a lot of media, and books, and manga, and dramas, and you know, so much stuff!

  • There's so much stuff.

  • So I don't think of Japan as inherently weird

  • and I don't think I've ever really looked at Japan and thought 'hey, weird! It's so, it's so weird!'

  • I look at myself and think 'weird' sometimes, but I don't really look at Japan and think 'look at this community, it's so weird!'

  • I don't think I saw it as weird but I probably did exotify it, I probably did see it as exotic

  • when I first started to become interested in Japanese things

  • and I do think I saw it as different

  • like culturally different and very interesting because it was different from my culture.

  • "How do you do the whole immigration thing? I wanna move to Japan but I don't understand visas or how to become a citizen?"

  • I will address this in another video, but check with your nearest Japanese embassy and Google a lot.

  • "If you'd never come to Japan how would you imagine your life?"

  • I'm not really a person who likes the idea of regrets

  • I wish I had done a working holiday visa in Japan, that's definitely something I regret

  • even though I live my life with no regrets

  • I do wish I had done that instead of just jumping in to working here.

  • But I don't imagine my life not coming to Japan.

  • I always thought like maybe I'd go live in Korea for a year because I was super in to Korean culture, and I studied Korean at university for a while

  • but at the end of the day I came to Japan and it ended up- seven years later and I'm still here

  • and I don't have any real regrets about that

  • you know, I've made mistakes, I've made *so* many mistakes

  • but it's all lead to me becoming the person that I am now

  • and I'm pretty proud of myself for overcoming so much, and doing a lot of it alone

  • I mean, now I have Duncan, we have our cats, we have our own little family, but before that I was pretty alone

  • and I have friends but they would come and go, and I'm really proud of myself for doing this by myself

  • and I'm really grateful to my mum for always answering my phone calls and dealing with my histrionics

  • Thumbs up for mums.

  • If I hadn't come to Japan and managed to overcome some of my crippling shyness

  • and become more confident within myself, and started to put myself out there on the internet

  • even with my bad Japanese

  • and just muscled through some of the bad things that happened

  • and dealt with a lot of bullying in the workplace and online, and learnt how to deal with that stuff better

  • and learnt how to be a better person

  • and really, I think I've really grown as a person, and in part it's really thanks to YouTube and having this amazing experience

  • and being able to interact with you guys, and having this really great you know, audience!

  • I'm so grateful for that and that's one of the best things that I feel like Japan, this experience of being in Japan, has given me.