I first came to Japan in 2011 for an eight-night trip with a hometown friend. About a year later, that same friend checked himself into a mental hospital and was soon diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, along with several other crazy-person disorders. He eventually lost his mind completely, and we have not spoken since. I’m not sure why I’m telling you this, but it did happen.

Anyway, back to Japan. I was wildly impressed – and intoxicated – during my brief stay in the land of the rising sun, so I decided to quit my job and return in 2012 with nothing but a single piece of luggage and a slowly dying laptop computer, which I still use. It can’t be that hard to find a job in Japan, right? After all, I have a magic American passport that says I can do anything I want!

Yeah, wrong. As it turns out, showing up without a plan or a work visa will not serve you well in this country, and I spent my first six months in Japan living off the books in various unheated hellholes, the last of which was owned by a slumlord who would bang on my door at 2am to collect rent. Prick.

My bank account rapidly depleting, I had to lock in a visa sponsor fast or I’d be headed back to Boston with my tail between my legs. Luckily, by the grace of God (to be clear, I am talking about this one), I was able to find a sponsor just when I was down to my last month or so of savings. That little stamp in my passport opened a world of possibilities, and I now work for a reputable university that pays well enough for me to drink beer whenever I want to, which is always.

This website serves two purposes - one selfish and the other selfless, because hey, the world needs balance. Black and White. Yin and Yang. Johnson & Johnson. The selfish reason is that I want to preserve the memories of my time spent in this country (especially the late night tales, oh my!), because I'm turning 30 this year so the good parts of my life are basically over.

But the other, more important reason is that I want to tell readers everything I’ve learned about Japan from the perspective of an expat who has experienced both high peaks and deep valleys. Japanese life can be fascinating, but it can also be endlessly frustrating. It is exciting and boring; organized and messy, teeming yet lonely. Your experience is what you make of it, so whether you are traveling, living or simply interested in Japan, I hope to leave you with something that makes your experience here better.

Enjoy yourselves, and don’t hesitate to leave comments or questions. I’m not shy and I will reply to you.

-          Dave aka Yabatori