It is so interesting thinking about the conditions and choices that people made to get here. That sentence is a little confusing but consider these examples:
There is a man living in my dorm from Siri Lanka. He works at a computer company and has lived in Tokyo for over a year and will be around for a couple more. He is an engineer and was hired because the Japanese company had an international recruiting effort. He was explaining to me a project he is working on. It involves a portable hard drive, so that someone could carry something as small as a usb and then be able to run their programs/everything off any computer.
Another guy here is a bit of a nerd, but is from the states and started a job working for the Japanese government. He is white, but he passed the highest level on the national standardized Japanese proficiency test. He is now studying to take a national kanji test that is actually meant for Japanese people. I learned all about the alcohol taxes, etc from him, why you can get a bottle of skyy for less than $10 and the reason behind the different prices of beer.
Guy, from my Japanese class, lived his whole life in Manhattan. But five years ago, retired, sold most of the businesses he owned, and decided to move to Japan. He shipped his furniture and everything. I don't believe he knew any Japanese before coming. But he is totally happy here and loves Tokyo.
I met a few young (in their 20's) American guys that are working at Goldman Sachs in Tokyo. That just blows my mind.
But besides personal examples, I always wonder about the non-Japanese people that run their own restaurants, etc here...
It is always funny to me to be greeted into a restaurant or sold something by someone who is obviously not Japanese, but is speaking to me in Japanese. Idk why, it just seems curious to me.
There are a lot of kebab places here, actually a surprising number. Almost all of them are run by Middle-Easternish men, usually from Turkey (based on their flag decorations). Some Indian restaurants. And when I went to Thai Fest in Yoyogi park, there were a ton of Thai people that were selling food and produce from Thailand.
I can't help but think about the sacrifices and planning that it must have taken to get here. Not only to learn the language, but to establish a business, leave their family and everything they love about their country, and relocate and adapt to the ways of Japan.
That is a HUGE decision to make. It is so different than moving to the U.S., Britain, or Australia, where the whole country is largely multi-cultural and full of immigrants. Tokyo, as cosmopolitan and international as it is, still is hugely mono-cultural, etc. Overall people look the same and non-Japanese are so easy to spot. I always wondered what it would be to live as such a minority.
I give huge props to all the people who are able to take risks like this. Afterall, life is meant to be lived to its fullest.