During my university summer holidays, I went to Boston and ended up teaching English to Japanese students. Getting to know them got me interested in the country, its people and culture. That began a burgeoning obsession with all things Japanese.
There are a lot to choose from but I would go with, “Life is a journey, not a destination,” which seems suitably Buddhist for a person who lives in Japan. I try to enjoy the moment, absorb as much knowledge about this fascinating world as I can and meet with interesting people who I can learn from and be stimulated by.
I was an Irish diplomat in Japan for four years and was delighted to work on many interesting projects that helped further the cultural and business ties between the two countries. Previously, I worked as a solicitor in Ireland and Belgium and am now working in the exciting aircraft leasing industry, so I’m proud of the various challenges I’ve set for myself throughout my career.
I’d love to reach a really high level in Japanese; I feel I’m not there yet by any means. During the remainder of my time in Japan, I also want to visit more of the country outside Tokyo and talk to and befriend people from different walks of life. Finally, I'd love to take up a Japanese art, perhaps shodō (Japanese calligraphy), if I can manage it!
I think it’s very important to build up a network and a circle of friends because given how far from home Japan is for a lot of foreigners here, it can be quite isolating. I try to get out to explore Japan as much as possible because I think there's a lot out there beyond the confines of expat life in Tokyo.