A bit of a rant

There is NOBODY my age in this town.
This makes it extremely difficult to make friends here. It's tough to find young people in Niikappu who aren't my students. I assume all the young adults are in college in Sapporo or otherwise, and all the college graduates have moved on from Niikappu to more bustling places. I guess I'm not sure what I expected from Niikappu. I just thought every age group would be represented, I suppose. But instead it seems to be a lot of kids, a lot of middle aged people, and tons of old people.
Don't get me wrong, I really like it here. Everyone is nice and helpful, but there's hardly anybody to actually become friends with here. The youngest Japanese people I've met here are 26 and 28 respectively. I think they're the only two adults I know here who are under 30. They're both pretty cool, but it's hard to find time to hang out with them. One of them is a chainsmoker though, which is kind of hard to deal with.

The main thing I miss about America isn't food. It's not stores, or places. It's not even high-speed internet. It's having friends who I can actually talk to in English face to face. I miss being able to joke around, or get together for a movie, or play video games, or go out to dinner without a language barrier. It gets quite lonely here. I can get together with the other ALTs sometimes, but it's difficult to reach them without a car. I really miss having regular human contact with people who understand my language. I can only say so much in Japanese. I find myself just waiting for my friends back home to appear online so I can actually talk to someone.

For now, I keep my sanity by talking online with friends, playing videogames, and programming and designing games. It's hard to find my friends online, so it gets boring sometimes. I rarely see my friends from the Tokyo area, online or in person. It's too far for me to be able to go there regularly to visit them, and they're all too busy working on their theses right now to come online. I feel like this is some sort of grand experiment to see how long I last here before going insane.

Only three years ago, I could count the number of friends I had on both hands, with one finger to spare. A lot has changed since then, and in the absence of all the friends I've made I only now realize how alone I am here. Being a non-drinker makes it infinitely more difficult to socialize. The first thing I'm asked is often "Do you drink," or "Do you like beer?" If I decline an offer to go out to a bar, it implies to them that I don't want to socialize with them. I know I can just go and order something without alcohol, but the bars here are often smokey, which I really hate. The smoke particles clog up both my glasses and my lungs.

It's not all bad though. The scenery here is great. I went out and watched the sunset on the beach one day. It can be absolutely beautiful sometimes. I try to go out for bike rides regularly, but it started snowing, making it more difficult. It's no problem to just walk around instead though. It's also windy as hell here right now, which blows. Pun absolutely intended.

I'm slowly meeting more and more people here. It's too slow for my liking, but I guess that's just what small towns are like. I'm getting to know the people I play badminton with better, the people I work with better, and the people who I've met elsewhere better too. But nobody around here seems to be interested in what I'm interested in or passionate about what I'm passionate about. And that's really what blows.

Comments

First of all, Happy

First of all, Happy Thanksgiving to you, Will!
Don't wish me because I don't celebrate Thanksgiving. hihi

The one and only thing bothers you is finding someone your age. I think your assumption is right.
Most young adults leave Niikappu for college, so who's left are only children and adults.
I know you must be grateful that Niikappu has Internet of you'll suffer mental sickness.
ok, that's a bit exaggerating. hehe.

If they ask me if I drink beer and I decline their offer, they probably understand my religious stand on that but come on, drinking is not the only form of socializing. maybe they only see it that way. I can't say much on that.

and, what is chainsmoker?

Thanks!

Hey Pana,
Chainsmoker is just a word for people who smoke a lot. When they finish one cigarette, they light another. And another, and another, and so on. It's okay if there's ventilation, but if there's no fresh air it gets really difficult to be around him.
I can still go to bars and not drink, but I think they will view it as strange if I'm not drinking with them. It's a hard problem to figure out.

That's a new term for me. Let

That's a new term for me. Let me create my sentence of the day: "I hate chainsmoker".
Luq and I used to hangout with some of us at izakaya and I ordered coke instead.
So we were surrounded by these drunk people doing funny stuff.
Actually I enjoyed that moment. It was my first experience at a bar with drunk people haha.

I totally sympathize with you!

Hi Will! I'm from Montreal, Canada and I use to be a JET in Niikappu, a long long time ago. And yes, it did feel lonely sometimes! I remember how it was difficult to make friends, outside of coworkers and adult eikaiwa students. Besides, some days, you simply just want to turn off your "friendly gaijin teacher" persona and just be yourself, right? That's why on most weekends, I would escape to Sapporo or visit other AETs nearby, even if I didn't have a car. I'd take the bus or the train. Just to get out of "Kneecap"!

The best japanese friends I made were people who at one point either lived abroad or travelled abroad. None of them lived in Niikappu. So I totally understand your rant.

If you're into sports or outdoor activities, you will eventually meet more people who have the same interest as you. What are you passionate about?

Hang in there my friend! It will get better; you will just take a little more time and a little more effort than if you were in a bigger city. Ganbatte ne!

Caroline

Thanks!

Hi Caroline! I must admit I am surprised that one of my predecessors found my website! I've been meaning to update for a while now. I have a lot of snow-covered pictures to put online!

It seems that they've stopped doing eikaiwa for adults. Although my predecessor did it and I was kind of looking forward to it, my supervisor practically denies its existence. A couple townspeople have asked me things like "When are we starting?" but I don't know what to tell them. I'm sticking it out for the rest of the contract, and then I'm heading back to the US to try and start a video game development company. I feel kind of guilty doing all the work to come here and having everyone here help me, only for me to stay one year. But I've decided. One of my goals in coming here was to search for a software development job that I could use as a foothold into the game industry in Japan, but to be honest their work ethic and business culture kind of freaks me out. I can't understand why the other teachers routinely stay at school until 10 or later every night. I thought it was just the salaryman life that was so demanding, but if it extends into other disciplines then I'm not sure if I want to be a part of that.
Plus, game development is something that can be done anywhere in the world now, not just in Japan anymore. I guess that kind of hit me while I was here, but it should have been obvious from the start. In the end, I just can't stand all the formality either. I imagine it would stifle creativity in the game industry here.

I'm passionate about badminton, and I go twice a week to the sports center to play. Although it is much more difficult to get there now, as they don't plow the roads so it's too slippery for my bicycle! Unfortunately, ever since I skiied into a building as a kid I've been turned off of winter sports... So I'm stuck inside for the moment. I'm sure things will look up for me as I continue to work with my friends to start my new venture, and things will definitely start looking up when it's warmer! I'll finally be able to go biking again.

Thank you for contacting me! What was it like when you were here? What did you do during the winter?
Now that I think about it, I think I remember reading your name in a green binder containing information from thirteen years ago. I wish that had been on my desk when I got here! I'm definitely leaving it out for my successor.
Will