April was a lot

by Ben D-T

I bought a houseplant last month.

I don’t like writing about myself. I never have. But for a while I’ve been trying to write more, especially about the things I do in Tokyo. For the past seven months now I’ve written attempts at being funny to bridge this gap. Most of my time in Japan has been incredible. It’s often been life-changing. As a result I’ve always felt I’ve had good things to write about. Things I can make light of and enjoy putting into words. April was different.

With the world the way it is right now, it’s probably safe to say no one had the April they were expecting. Japan had the virus before a lot of other countries, but I watched the UK go into lockdown a fortnight before Japan declared it’s state of emergency. I don’t think I’ve spoken to anyone who’s satisfied with how the Japanese government have handled this situation.

The emergency state is meant to end on May 4th, but it’s probably going to be extended by about a month. For me that will mean more teleworking. I’ve been working from my tiny room in my awful sharehouse on an iPad borrowed from my school for about three weeks now. It’s been…challenging. I shouldn’t complain though, I know people who’ve been away from work longer than me and can’t do anything but stay home. Other people have just straight up lost their jobs, so I count myself genuinely lucky to still be earning my full salary.

There was a time where I had to weigh up whether I should stay in Japan or just pack it all in and head back home. I’m almost certain I made the right decision to stay, but that inkling of doubt is hard to shake off.

I realised recently that I’m now over half way through my time in Japan. It’s been seven months, and with my work contract lasting 12 I’m over the peak and on the downward slope. I don’t feel remotely ready to leave, and I don’t think I will in five months time. I haven’t done half of what I wanted to do when I got here, and my bucket list has only grown.

I can’t blame it all on the current situation, I definitely got a little complacent about going out and doing the things I want to do here. But I haven’t really gone anywhere other than work or a convenience store since about mid-March. So, to cut a long winded point short, I’m planning to stay here past September – probably for another year.

There have been some genuinely good things about the last month. I bought a houseplant, for example. It’s turned my drab, boring room with nothing interesting in it, into a drab, boring room with a houseplant in it. I’ve also started the process of finding an apartment to move into, so I can leave sharehouse life behind. These are pretty small highlights, but now more than ever I feel the need to make the most of them.

Last month was a lot. A lot to adapt to and a lot to think about. There were some highs and some lows, but I could have things a lot worse than I currently do. May’s going to be a big month. I hope it ends up better than April.