|LIFE IN JAPAN
Time in Japan:
Where are you from?
Originally, Louisville, Kentucky, home of Kentucky Fried Chicken. But I' lived in Las
Vegas for 12 years, Hawaii for a year and Key Largo for two years. I've been around.
How did you end up in Tokyo?
I came with National Panasonic to develop the English program for them. It was just awful.
Working in a big Japanese company environment is just not my cup of tea.
How did you go from there to scuba diving?
Well I've been diving for about 25 years - since I was a teenager. When I first came to
Tokyo, I wanted to dive and I looked around for someplace to go. I couldn't find one
organization that would take me because they didn't speak English or some other odd
reason. It seemed strange that in this huge city, I would be the only English speaking
person who wanted to go diving.
Have you started your own scuba diving school?
Well, I've been organizing it. I got a contract to teach at Yokota Air Base, but it's been
a struggle. It took six weeks to get the day pass, then I got the gate pass. Now I have a
lot of problems getting my tanks filled because they are American-made. The Japanese have
a big issue because they have all this paper work to do and submit to the government
whenever you fill USA-made tanks. But we're dealing with all that, so hopefully it'll all
get sorted out. I also teach privates at Yokota and out of my house and at this diving
shop in Toranomon. I teach confined water instruction at Yokota.
How's diving in Japan?
Down south is just gorgeous. It's beautiful, especially around Okinawa. It's a lot like
any other recreational area around Tokyo; it's always bombarded and polluted with people.
If you go to Futsu for the weekend during the summer, there's a line to get into the
water. Ridiculous. There are like 500 divers, and people are kicking each other's masks
off. If you go up north, it's too cold and the visibility is bad.
Where's your favorite diving spot in Japan?
I haven't gone diving in enough places to tell you, but as of now, Ishigaki Islands. There
are other places where I'd like to go, like the Ogasawara Island chain.
What was the weirdest thing you've seen or experienced in Japan?
On a school outing there were three guys, maybe ninth or tenth graders, who were trying to
be the tough guys in the crowd. All three of them were eating big pink lollipops and
putting on this tough-as-a-Chevy-truck" front. I thought that was kind of strange.
What's one thing you'd like to take back to your own country?
The heated toilets-the coolest invention ever.
What's your recipe for a happy and successful life in Japan?
Eat good food, get a little exercise every day, and smile.
Contact Ben at firstname.lastname@example.org
Ben Leibson spoke to Maki Nibayashi
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