English teacher 36 (Aussie)
My first ambition was to be a musician. As a young teenager I played saxophone, then different kinds of guitar, rock ‘n’ roll. I had lots of fun with friends in garages and played Irish folk music in pubs. Around 20 I became fed up with crappy kitchen and hotel jobs and found better work as a Gold Coast hotel receptionist. There I met a Japanese girl working in the gift shop. We moved to Japan and now have two kids and a house. I can’t complain but still regret the disappearance of that original dream.
Engineering assistant, 52 (Japanese)
When I was at high school I did not think very carefully about choosing a career. I knew I wanted to be a professional of some kind but didn’t make enough effort to think through what type of professional I should be to realize that dream. It is no real use regretting past decisions like this, though, and I’m enjoying being with the people I am around now. However, I wonder: If I were to be born again, would I take the path I know in my heart I should have chosen?
Steel salesman, 33 (Japanese)
One of them happened just last week. Getting into my car, I switched on the engine and saw an alarm light flashing, warning me there was an engine malfunction. I ignored it because I’ve had no problems with the engine before. Ten minutes later I was on the highway and the car slowed down to 20 kilometers an hour. I caused a big traffic jam and it took me a long time — in front of a long line of frustrated drivers — to crawl back to the house. I was very embarrassed.
Office administrator, 26 (naturalized Japanese)
When I was 10 my father gave me a computer and I decided to practice my typing skills by inputting all the books I had. This had a disastrous effect on my eyes. When I moved to Japan my eyes were good, thanks to my nomadic ancestors from the Chinese steppes. Now I will have to buy contact lenses for the rest of my life. A box of these costs ¥3,000 and they last a month. I once calculated that if I live until 80, the total cost will be ¥2 million — a hefty price for being able to type well!
Car parts salesman, 33 (Japanese)
Aged 7, I went to play baseball in a park. During the game two huge male German shepherd dogs ran up and glared into my eyes from two meters away. I threw two balls at them very hard, hitting one on the shoulder and the other on his head! They ran at me barking and I fled. Within seconds, one had its jaws clamped around my leg. I kicked backward and ran; then the other sank his teeth hard into my backside. I kicked back at that one too, and ran home crying, bleeding and seriously injured.
Accountant, 29 (Chinese)
When I came to Japan to study at university, my scores were all A’s. In the final semester I had a chance to publish a paper I’d been working on for two years. I wasn’t confident about its quality, though, so I withdrew it. Instead, I should have said “In for a penny, in for a pound” and submitted it. At the time I thought I would reach a perfect future state of making no mistakes, with everything as it should be. Now, I don’t believe in that type of faultlessness and think I should just try my best at everything.
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