I called up and turned down a job offer today. That was a really hard decision. The agency that employed me before offered me a one year contract, with visa sponsorship. My current visa expires in August, and they would have got me a three year visa. I could have stayed for a long time.

It was tempting. I’m quite settled in here, and I’m not really in a hurry to rush off again.

Having said that, however, the job I was offered was significantly less pay than I’ve been receiving up until now, a bit of a long commute, and I wasn’t entirely confident about the work involved.

I hadn’t thought about it too much before now, but since getting the job offer a few days ago, I found myself suddenly having to consider my future.

I think that I have to leave when my visa expires. I like a lot of things about Japan, and I’ve found it really easy to live here and get on with people, most of the time. But there’s a whole lot of things that bug me about living here, too.

It’s crowded. I love cooking, but Japan just isn’t the place for getting exotic ingredients, and kitchens tend to be tiny. Maybe burning my finger yesterday whilst juggling pans in the limited space of my kitchen played a big part in my decision.

No matter how hard I try; no matter how good my Japanese becomes, I’m aware that I’ll always be an outsider and a curiosity. It’s something that can be transcended where personal relationships are concerned, but not at the level of society. Perhaps I’m far too sensitive, but that irritates me.

Most of all, though, I don’t want to spend the rest of my life teaching English. Much as I have enjoyed it in the short term, it’s not what I want to devote my life to doing. I know that I would end up frustrated. On the other hand, I’m not especially enamoured of the “salaryman” lifestyle 1 either. I’m sure that there are some good jobs here, but there are also clearly a large number of really awful ones too. My nationality and limited Japanese (at least as far as reading is concerned) make it a lot more difficult to find something good. I’m also aware that spending too long teaching English will jeopardise my future career prospects.

One year is probably a good length of time. I need a firm deadline to give me the impetus to quit while I’m ahead.

Salaryman: (plural same) The suit wearing company employees, always male, who work from morning until late at night, and don’t enjoy much free time or quality of life. Karoshi 2 is an occupational hazard.

Karoshi: death by overwork.