The Japanese work harder than any group of people I've ever met before.
I have yet to experience the 9-5 work day.
People work overtime and still take their work home.
After a year of living here, I realize I too have been sucked into this culture.
Tomorrow I will leave my house at 7 am, and if I'm lucky I'll get home around 8:30 pm.
There are days that I question why I'm doing this? Why am I away from my family and friends and my country and culture? What am I doing in a preschool working with so many little screaming children, when this isn't my career and I'm not focusing on my passion? I love what I'm doing, because I absolutely adore the screaming little kids, but how much longer should and can I do it for? It's demanding, frustrating and exhausting.
If it weren't for the weekends I couldn't do it.
The weekends are what keep me here.
The snowboarding. The festivals. The nights out with friends from around the world. The live music shows in tiny venues. The nights spent in tents. The train rides to places I've never been before. The sunny afternoons laying in Tokyo parks. Sitting on たたみ (tatami) mats, eating mouth watering food the country is famous for. The trips to lakes, beaches, mountains, parks, waterfalls, and rivers. The nights relaxing in onsens after a day of snowboarding. Sightseeing in villages that have been around for the past century. Bike rides along rice fields that are perfect mirrors for the world above. Drinking with friends under さくら (cherry blossom) trees, having はなみ (a party) just to simply admire their beauty. Falling head over heals for Japanese guys who can't speak English. Mud wrestling and dodging balls in a rice field in the Japanese countryside. Waking up and seeing the snow covered Alps every single day from my front door. Drinking さけ (sake) and cheap Japanese beer all night in a spacey psychedelic neighborhood bar. Watching はなび (fireworks) above the river in front of my house. Going to music festivals where I can't understand any of the singers, but still having the greatest time. Wandering through giant fields of seasonal wild flowers. Drinking champagne at a castle almost 500 years old. Going to hip hop shows and falling in love over and over. Bon fires, BBQs, fire festivals, fireworks and sparklers. Squeezing too many people into my tiny flat to drink and party before we go out to drink and party. Spending time with friends who are not only teachers, but artists, musicians, writers, photographers, talented chefs, skiers, snowboarders, dancers, and most of all, free adventurous spirits.
For as hard as I'm working here, I'm having the time of my life.
I'm loving everything.
Japan has stolen my heart.