I came to Japan in 1992 after spending
eight months on the beaches and buses of Thailand and Indonesia. I arrived with about $100
in my pocket and no real idea about what Japan was like. Fortunately, I had friends who
were already living here, and they let me stay with them until I found my feet. I managed
to get a teaching job almost immediately - it was a bit easier back then - and intended to
work until I had earned enough money to pay off my debts and go traveling again.
After a year, I hadn' managed to save any real money and was planning to continue
teaching for another six months when, without warning, the school where I was working went
bankrupt. I then had to quickly decide whether I was going to go back home or stick it out
here in Tokyo. I chose the latter.
Because teaching was only a stopgap for me, I decided that rather than going back to
it, I would use my time in Japan to get involved with something that I really wanted to
do: photography. At first it was very difficult as I had very little money and no outlets
for my work. However, after talking with other photographers in Tokyo, and with financial
support from my wife, I eventually started to make some progress.
My big break was getting my work accepted by Sygma, an international photo-news agency.
It gave me a huge amount of confidence and meant that I always had somewhere to sell
stories. I still do most of my work for them.
I enjoy my job as I never know what will be around the next corner. I get to experience
many different things, and there is not much that beats seeing your work published in a
national newspaper or magazine.
The best thing about living in Japan is that it has given me the opportunity to get
started on a career that, for financial reasons, would have been impractical in my home
country. I have also made some very good friends here and have gained a perspective that I
don't think you can get living in a Western country.
Tokyo has been a great place to live. I feel that I have been given a rare opportunity
in life and, while I shall probably return to the UK.next year, I will never forget my
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