Sent by my company, I arrived on day one with my wife and 6-month-old baby. Stunned by people’s hospitality, lack of English communication, the density of people in Tokyo, and yet harmony in social relations and respect for rules above all; Japan is a country of contrasts.
I am not sure I have one.
When I or those around me tend to be down, I like to think that rather than always looking for happiness, just realizing that each moment of non-unhappiness is already a form of happiness.
Another motto I like, taken from Victor Hugo is, “The best years in life are the years which we still have left to live.”
To have been able to set up my company, and yet have the flexibility to devote the necessary time to raise my children and preserve my private life. On top of that, I could serve our Chamber of Commerce as a volunteer. Finding this balance is a challenge in Japan, where work is so time-consuming.
For me, life in Japan is enriching and interesting, so I’ll continue to be here even after retiring, even if not all year long. As far as my position at the chamber? It fulfills the need to stay close to my Belgian roots and support my fellow citizens. Generally, I wish to pass on what I learned here, to my children, dear ones and friends.
When I arrived here, I was told: “After one week in Japan you want to write a book; after one month, you just want to write an article; and after one year, you just shut up.” I found it true all the way along. Don’t jump quickly to conclusions, don’t judge hastily. Things are not as they seem to be, there is much to learn if you dig in. After many years here, I keep on making mistakes, thus learning. Remaining humble actually elevates you somehow.