I have been working for U.S. Customs for the past twenty years and came to Japan after
being stationed on the Canadian border for ten years. Although it was very beautiful up
there and the work interesting, I was beginning to get a little bored, and so decided to
apply for a position in either Tokyo, Vienna, London or the Hague. Overseas postings are
very hard to get due to the intense competition, but I decided to try anyway and was
offered the job in Tokyo. Of course I jumped at the chance to come here.
When I first arrived in Japan, I had no real expectations of what it would be like, and
I think this has allowed me to learn about my environment by simply going with the flow,
observing what is going on around me and absorbing it all. I used to do things like
deliberately getting lost just so I could find out more about the geography of the city on
my own, and this has enabled me to develop a very personal view of the place.
There is so much that is positive about living in Tokyo, but perhaps the thing that I
value most is the personal safety aspect. Last summer I went to the States for a
conference and the first thing that was said was that none of us should go out alone at
night. That really brought home to me how lucky I am to be living in a city where I feel
very comfortable about walking home no matter what time it is. It is something that I
shall certainly miss when I go back to the States in December.
Also, because I come from a very car dependent culture, it is great to be in a city
with a public transport system that is clean, efficient and easy to use. I haven' had any
need for a car here, and when I return to the U.S. I will try not to use one unless I have
I've not encountered any real problems in Tokyo, in fact the only negative thing I can
think of is that it is more difficult to pursue outdoor sports here, simply because you
have to travel so far to do them.
Over the past four years, I feel I have developed a true global perspective and
conscience in both a professional and personal sense. The U.S. is such a huge country and
many Americans never travel outside of it?some never even leave their home state?so I feel
very fortunate to have had the opportunity of living in an international environment and
meeting people from different cultures and backgrounds. I think that gaining an
understanding of different approaches to different situations is something that everyone
who lives here can benefit from, and something that I will always carry with me in the
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