Dealing With Loneliness in Japan

The chances are you will probably feel lonely in Japan.

There’s an expectation when moving to a new country that the excitement of being there will carry you through; that opportunities and friendships with come effortlessly. But if you’re anything like me, after that initial surge of excitement wears off, you’ll have to give yourself a little push to get things rolling socially in Japan. Add to the mix a language barrier, vast cultural differences, and rare but present discrimination, and the experience can sometimes be isolating.

With the right mindset, loneliness doesn’t have to cripple you. With time, a little patience, and some outside help, you’ll see loneliness as just another emotion, and start to make lasting relationships in your new home.

For some context, I’ve lived in Japan for nearly a year with my partner, Olivia. While we have each other to come home to, it’s fair to say we have both experienced our share of loneliness. At times it feels like we’re stranded in a strange land with no-one to talk to but each other, which is only partly true. Loneliness can feel even worse overseas for a number of reasons. There’s the added distance from loved ones for one. And there’s the fact that you when you’re hit with your first wave of it, it often comes with feelings of failure. Feeling isolated probably wasn’t high on your to do list, and it can feel especially jarring to find yourself in that state in an unfamiliar environment. It might even be difficult to admit, to others and yourself.

Expect it, accept it.

This first point might sound counter-intuitive. No one wants to feel lonely. But a little acceptance can go a long way. This starts with managing your expectations of what living in Japan will be for you. Upon …continue reading