My short story of finalizing my dream of going and living in Japan
Many years ago when I was back in high school and a friend introduced me to some anime. Go figure at that time everyone was nuts about DBZ, well why not right? For Americans at that time I believe it was one of the biggest gut punches for Japanese anime I think about ever in history (maybe I’m wrong?).
The Epic story, stupid filler episodes and legendary boss fights that had all of us in America hanging from our seats while we watched it through Toonami on Cartoon Network, it was truly something to behold. But before this I had an interest in this so called ‘mystic’ place called Japan and DBZ was not initially responsible, but it helped. My friend at the time bought a rouge copy of all of DB and DBZ episodes through an Ebay listing. It was all the original episodes of the series from Japan, albeit really poorly recorded episodes, at times you couldn’t see anything as the CD files were obviously copied from a VHS tape that had been watched one too many times.
While we indulged ourselves in this wonderland of super powers and glowing gold hair, we ended up attracting the attention of a woman who lived in the area next to my friend. Her name was Miko and she was a classic WWII story. Handsome strapping young naval office wooing a beautiful small town girl in Japan to come back to America and marry him. At this time she had literally lived in American since about 1950’s or so. She was very nice and spoke to us about Japan and I learned some new things about Japan from her that I was yet to be previewed to. Simple things really, like taking the bus, the trains, school systems etc. I think for the most part she had so much knowledge to pass but 95% of it never hit our brains. We did several hang out sessions with her and she ended up giving me a red book that was titled ‘Japanese Grammar’. The book looked like it had been used many many times. I think to this day it was used many times by her late husband to basically pick up chicks while on port.
From that point on I was more and more interested in learning the language. I ended up getting Rosetta Stone for Christmas or my birthday, but I honestly could never make it through the few several levels of the CD’s, although I did find a software program called Kanji Gold which I worked through for awhile, and got to the point where I could recognize 1st grade type kanji. I could never pronounce the words or get the kun or onyomi it was just that I knew what it symbolized. I felt pretty cool being in high school knowing some kanji… Look at me, I’m the biggest damn weeabo in the school. I guess you could say at a point I was pretty damn weeabo, even created the schools first anime club with my friend.
Skip ahead many years and I would still work on Rosetta Stone (up till level 2 on disk 1) and Kanji Gold at times. I’d say I’m very skilled in recognizing 1st grade kanji and knowing that the boy is on top of the airplane… or below the table thanks to these two programs. But my real understanding of Japanese really started to begin when I ran into a website called Japaneseclass.jp when I first understood that there were Hiragana and Katakana writing systems. When I learned the writing systems I really started to understand Japanese at a level I had never known before… and mind you I learned kana the crazy way (which works) by spaced recognition and writing the ‘alphabet/kana chart’ over… and over…. and over…. and over again, until I literally could NEVER not know what which character sounded like or looked like.
After that I ran into another Japanese learning site that I truly believe made the difference, and helped me really solidify wanting to live in Japan and go to school. But before I go into that, during this time I was learning to become a professional internet marketer / SEO (search engine marketer), and I was sadly living with my parents in their basement with my girlfriend (real slick right?), but we got to the point where one night we were so pissed off at living at my parents house we built a dream that night. She already knew about my desire about Japan and had (weirdly enough) wanted to learn Japanese with me (and has since then), so she was helping me and learning with me (which helps a lot!!). So we decided… Lets go to Japan to go to school! Well first we had to get the hell out of the basement, so our first real dream was to get outta there. I had always wanted to move back to Evergreen, CO… Not that I had ever had a residence there, but my grandmother when I was a child would take.. Ehm… steal me, from my parents and take me up into the beautiful mountains of Colorado. I guess that impression was grand enough to make me want to go back, so that was the first goal.
Soon after this Japanese / Evergreen goal, we had purchased a bitcoin machine, a small crappy one from butterfly labs that literally took 8 months to get to us, by the time it came and we started using it, I borrowed about $10k dollars to buy 2 huge mining machines (forget how fast – but at the time top notch for about 3 months)… we started making about $850 a day until I did our first sell off when it spiked in December that year, and that’s all she wrote, we had enough money to move off into the mountains like hermits for 2 years. So pretty much that’s where we arrive in the story where I’m writing this… actually back in the basement of my parents, waiting, for April 2017 to go to school in Fukuoka, Japan and enjoying as much of my family and the holidays as possible as we’ll be gone for 2 years (just FYI were saving up to pay for Japan in a one lump sum so not paying $1,500/m in rent helps – score for supportive parents right?).
So the big change in my learning came from a learning company called Nihongo Master, I no longer list them in my learn Japanese page any longer because honestly they’re not free and pretty much everything on there is free except where I mention a few books, Nihongo Master is kind of just a here it is, try it, if you like it, it will open up to you in all it’s glory! Is it worth it? Yeah! It is actually, especially if you’ve never really been exposed to Japanese, it will teach you Kana, Kanji, Vocab, Particles and sentence structure. Now after going through about half of Nihongo Master I had moved on to Wanikani.com <- which can be read about here. It’s more so to help you read the onyomi and kunyomi of kanji and to read vocab. It’s a site where you’re suppose to learn about 2000 kanji and 6000 vocabulary words in just over a years time. I actually really like Wanikani it’s got it’s issues but for the most part my reading ability has drastically increased. For speaking and listening Nihongo Master thus far has helped the most and I think it’s on the verge of being able to take you to JLPT 3 (JLPT is a proficiency test to judge where your Japanese speaking, reading and listening abilities are at, it starts at 5 and goes to 1).
So here I am in December 2016, just got approved to Fukuoka Language school for April 2017 (Visa won’t be approved until mid February) (2018 Update: Be sure to read my review as we had trouble with that school, contact me to learn where we instead if you’re looking for a school to go to in Fukuoka). What am I looking to do now before going? First I’m tailoring down my marketing business and accepting only family based business work for about 2 years now and specific JV opportunities. I am going to still be learning new SEO and keeping up with it through my mentor group at OMG Machines, but I’m going to be focusing 50% of my work day to some kind of learning of Japanese culture or language until I go, and then when I get there it will be more like 90%, as I lied I’ll actually be taking care of smaller clients on an on going basis. — Which you can see here.
To end this, just know, if you have a drive or feeling for something you want to do in life, NEVER GIVE UP! But as I say this I know it’s easy to say this and to read it. But what does it mean? For me at least it means that if you have faith and a knowing that you can have something bigger then what you’ve been given in life thus far you will be given chances to redeem that ticket to ride that ride IF you can believe it and see it through, through the trials of fire. I’m going to be 32 years old when I finally step foot in Japan, my dream first started over 17 years ago and although not every one of those years that passed had a goal to live in Japan, it had always been there in the back of my mind.
So here it is now, I get to go to Japan with my best friend in the whole world… my wife! And we get to experience something very few people overall get to experience. Living on the other side of the world, learning an entirely new and foreign language to what I use to growing up. Perhaps it’s intimidating and a bit scary, sure, but the journey of life is only worthy of living if you happen upon these emotions at times when you’re in the driver seat of your life. If you start feeling these emotions, keep doing what you’re doing, because that’s where all the fun and growth is truly at!
Keep building yourself up and you’ll be able to accomplish anything. At this point in time we’ve been using Go Go Nihon to help through the process so it’s not so intimidating, and honestly even though we’ve at times skimmed the deadlines pretty close because of challenges getting our information together, it’s been really smooth through this company (support can take a couple days to get back to you just FYI). Life will test you, do you really want what you think you want?
We’ll see, right?
—UPDATE— We had tremendous problems with this school and we DO NOT recommend them.
Read the article above before considering going to FFLC.
Click the link above to read my current review of the school.
Today we received another win towards heading to Japan in April 2017. We’ll continue to update you on how the process with Go! Go! Nihon goes but for now here’s what they have to say. (This post here is a bit about what I personally submitted to Go! Go! and to the school in Fukuoka – it’s basically the reasoning of WHY I want to enter Japan and learn Japanese).
Congratulations, Fukuoka Foreign Language College (FFLC) has approved your (and your wife’s – please see email sent to your wife’s email ) application for the session starting in April and will be submitting it to Japanese immigration for visa approval at the deadline. The visa result is scheduled to be released around the last two weeks of February 2017.
This is how the process works;
1. Application submission to school. – COMPLETE!
2. Application approval by school and submitted to Japanese immigration for approval. – COMPLETE!
3. Japanese immigration approval about 1 month prior to the start of your session (this is standard procedure and not within our control).
4. Japanese immigration issues a certificate of eligibility (COE) at this time.
5. You are required to pay the first 6 months of tuition in order to have the original COE copy mailed to you.
6. Take the original COE copy to your nearest Japanese embassy prior to your arrival in Japan.
— ARRIVAL TO JAPAN —
Your first day of school at FFLC is scheduled to the 12th of April 2017, but this has yet to be finalized at this time. We strongly recommend that you do not arrive to Japan earlier than 2-4 days before your study start. This is because there is a lot that you have to do during the final month before departure in regards to your student visa. If you are unable to complete the below procedure before departure you will have to reschedule your flight.
Once your COE is issued in the end of February 2017 you have to complete the following procedure before you can travel to Japan:
– Pay the school via international bank transfer (takes 2-5 business days)
– Receive original COE copy from Japan (takes 4-6 business days)
– Submit original COE and visa application to the Japanese embassy in your home country (takes 2-5 business days)
– Collect your finished student visa at the Japanese embassy
All this must be done before your flight. Therefore, it is important not to book an early flight. Please be advised that you will be stopped by the Japanese Immigration at the airport if you fail to receive your finished student visa before departure and try to enter Japan after your COE has been issued. Please note that;
-The payment of the tuition fee to the school can not be made until your COE is issued in the end of February 2017.
– We will send you the complete payment details once your COE is issued.
-The original COE will not be sent to you until you pay the 6 months tuition fee by international bank transfer.
-Once the original COE is delivered to you you are able to hand in your student visa application to your nearest Japanese Embassy.
An arrival time between 08:00 and 16:00 is recommended, otherwise you may have to spend the night at a hotel / hostel before you can move into your accommodation. If you arrive on a public holiday, there is a small chance that the housing agency is closed. If you want to be sure to be able to move in the same day, it is best to come on a weekday. Since you will be entering Japan on a student visa you are not required to have a return ticket.
You can contact Nihon Scope for cheap airline tickets to Japan. It is up to you to decide what day you want to arrive to Japan but please make sure to follow our advice!
— HEALTH INSURANCE —
As a student in Japan you must join the Japanese National Health Insurance which costs about 2000 – 4000 yen per month when you have a student visa. NHI accounts for 70% of any expenses related to your health. The other 30% will be your responsibility.
Once you have arrived in Japan, it is important that you register as residents of the nearest city or ward office as soon as possible and then you get your National Health Insurance Card. The school can provide you with more information about this after your arrival to Japan.
Please check our wiki FAQ for more information about life in Japan.
We will be sending you an e-mail in January with the following information:
– Accommodation Request
We will send you an accommodation search form where you fill in the details of your arrival to Japan and preferences regarding accommodation. It might be a good idea to start by taking a look at our accommodation examples right now to see what choices you might have:
CONTACT NIHON SCOPE IF YOU NEED HELP WITH ACCOMMODATIONS
– We will also give some tips and advice on what to consider and prepare before departure
I wrote this for applying for FFLC in Fukuoka, Japan, you can read the review on the link. I’d also be sure to check out my review of this school before deciding to join up with them. Very very recommended.
So I wrote this while filling out the forms, and later I found out they only wanted a paragraph of why I wanted to study Japanese in Japan. Of course my wife told me while filling hers out. But I guess it sort of reinforced the reasons and maybe brought out a few more that I wasn’t totally conscious of. Either way, it took me 5 hours to do this, and I still told the agency I went through to fix their system, because a little black box was suppose to show up to tell me all this. But whatever I guess right? Here it is. My reasons for wanting to learn Japanese!
The reason I’m learning Japanese is to follow a feeling I got when I started researching and looking into the Japanese culture when I was 15 years old, and from that, it’s grew to something that I could have never predicted. I started to learn the language after learning a bit more about Japan’s history back when I was in 9th grade. Then my friend at the time introduced me to his neighbor who was an older Japanese woman. She came over to the USA after WWII, her name was Mika and she would sit there with us for hours and tell us about Japan and what it was like, teach us words and sayings and some of the etiquette in Japan.
She gave me my first Japanese book, which was an old beat up red grammar book that her husband had used in WWII while he was there. Then another friend of mine at the time had an Aunt that grew up in Japan so I got more exposure to the Japanese language and the history and from there I kept bumping into friends and family who were either from Japan or worked in Japan. Then my friend with the Aunt from Japan told me that his big brother was moving to Japan to teach English, so I got to speak a lot with him, furthering my interest.
I then ended up going to a technical school after 11th grade and ended up getting my GED because I wanted to get out of High School and start college. I ended up going to Red Rocks Community College here in Colorado (when I was 19) and I ended up taking a conversation Japanese course while I was there. I ended up in a very bad car accident near the end of the semester and could not finish my classes to pass. Afterwards, I got caught up working in construction for many years after to pay for bills so I didn’t go back to school.
I ended up moving out when I was 21 and my room mates at that time were also interested in Japan, so I started getting back into it. But, since I never had real guidance I never got very far with the language part. I managed to make it through half of the first level of Rosetta Stone, but I never could really get into it and fully understand what I was saying. When I look back on it understanding more Japanese particles, I certainly could see myself being able to go further, but I never have been a fan of Rosetta Stone. Which I note on my Japanese blog at: https://nihonscope.com/learning-japanese/.
I did eventually run into a freeware software by Denton Hewgill called Kanji Gold. I quickly learned the first level of Kanji (It does not teach Kun or Onyami though so I only learned to recognize the characters). Since about I was 16 I’ve had this program on my desktop of my computer to dabble with from time to time. I feel I’ll be able to move more through this program when I have a bit more support to also understand how to say the words and to work with them more. To date I know level 1 fluently, level 2 semi well and level 3 not so well.. from there, I have not moved past it any further.
Level 1: 80 Kanji characters (know them all)
Level 2: 160 Kanji characters (150)
Level 3: 200 Kanji characters (40-50)
6 years ago I met my now wife, and she help me revitalize that feeling I had about Japan many years ago when I was a teenager, she help me believe that it was still possible to go to school and learn Japanese and because of that this goal of mine to study and live in Japan is starting to merge with many aspects of my business, my philanthropy projects, and my personal growth goals.
So now I feel perhaps it’s ‘guuzen’ that the feelings I felt as kid and what I’m doing now are starting to making itself known, and is the reason it’s come full circle to why I’m now applying for school in Japan. About 2 years into my relationship with my now wife we started to get really involved in Japan and Japanese. We started to look up other ways to learn Japanese and that’s where we found several different sites:
http://japaneseclass.jp (where I first learn hiragana and katakana)
http://nihongomaster.com (mostly goes over info to help pass the JLTP – great site)
http://yesjapan.com (learned about this from his book series “Japanese from Zero”)
http://japanesepod101.com (studied a bit from them, don’t care too much for it though).
We then bought close to $1,000 in text books and other material to find what would work best for us. From there, we’ve gone through more of the websites then the books.
But these are my favorite text books and books:
Hajimete no Nihongo, Japanese the Manga Way, Japanese from Zero, Genki and The Japanese Particle Workbook.
I want to have friends and associates from Japan. I want to be that weird family in the USA who speaks to each other in Japanese. I want to see the world through different lenses and from different perspectives. I want to be that person who says they want to go to Japan and ACTUALLY do it! I know that by experiencing new ways of living, understanding life in Japan can benefit not only myself, I can benefit my family, my society and the world at large. I think my main goal here is to become more compassionate and understanding of others and how people live, and be able to meld and respect other traditions and ways of being.
I’m also interested in attending many of the festivals celebrated in Japan, Japanese art, religious studies, the history of yokai all the way to minyo folk music and dance, and honestly I keep finding more and more reasons I want to learn Japanese and visit Japan every time I get time to research more about the culture.
Perhaps it’s the hero’s journey in me, but I feel by taking on this course of action I’m opening myself to something much bigger then what I currently have or would have if I simply let this dream die.
My business goals:
I run a successful digital marketing business (SEO / Search Engine Optimization) online. I’ve helped local companies get listed on Google, Bing and Yahoo for 3 years. I’ve marketed my own offers successfully online for over 8 years I own http://honorableSEO.com. While I was already interested in Japanese a long while ago, I’m becoming more and more interested in Japanese SEO (digital marketing). Being the 3rd most users of the internet in the world I see a HUGE opportunity to help local Japanese businesses take advantage of the internet to get their products out to the world or the local market, and I tend to want to help businesses that can make people’s lives better. I’m also in a mentor group for SEO online marketing (as you can’t learn it in any school/college in the world – at least correctly), I’ve run into a few people who are actually from Fukuoka, Japan in the mentor group, and it would be wonderful to do joint ventures with them in the future when I’m able to look over a Japanese website and know what to do to help it gain more exposure on Google, Bing and Yahoo.
I’m also connected to hemp growers here in Colorado, and they would like for me to possibly be able to communicate with prefectures/legally operated hemp farms in Japan to see if we can possibly learn a few things from each other. This is a side goal, and is not at all a major reason I’m learning Japanese, but in a way it does lead into my philanthropy goals a bit as you’ll read later about farming methods I wish to explore a bit deeper.
My Philanthropy goals:
When I started my business Health & Economics of America LLC 8 so years ago I created it to more so be in service of humanity then just a paycheck. I wanted to learn how to create self-sustaining communities, I wanted to help people heal from illnesses, I wanted to learn to become an energy healer of sorts, but not in a fringe scientist type of way, I wanted to learn methods of healing the world that ACTUALLY do help and have scientific studies to back it up. I actually performed a personal meditative ritual to help me plan and attract life situations that could help me reach these goals, and I’ve gotten more opportunities than I could have imagined at this point, and a lot of these goals keep pushing me to learn and live in Japan.
Over the many years a lot of very interesting things have occurred. First thing that occurred soon after creating my life plan/goals was that I got super sick one year after dealing with a death on a job site I was working on. I was sick for over a year, then I ended up getting sick of being sick and soon afterward I attracted/found a situation where I was able to be mentored by people like:
Kevin Trudeau – Marketer, Author and Researcher
Dr. Leonard Coldwell – Highest cancer cure rate in the world 92.3% out of 35,000 patients
The Morters – http://morter.com created a treatment called B.E.S.T (Bio Energetic Synchronization Technique, which evolved from the practice of Chiropractic care). I was mentored by many other doctors, entrepreneurs and scientists which eventually lead me to the cure for myself, which I’ll explain a little bit later.
Because of that mentor group I ended up meeting a man named Robert Miller. This man in a nut shell summed up the self-sustaining communities plan/goal I saw in my meditative/planning ritual so much to letter that the hair stood straight up on my head (in a good way!) as I walked into his office and saw everything he was doing. For over 7 years I’ve been a friend of his and have helped him with his initiative as much as I possibly have been able to (online and offline). He has met with the President of Mexico and Vice President of Vietnam to try to help push this initiative even further. Vietnam ended up having to cancel the community plans because of inflation in their country (or that’s what I remember him saying), but the President of Mexico has been slowly working with him to create this community, they have had land donated to them and this is a REAL opportunity for it to happen.
http://orphancommunities.org is his website it’s called “Our Family Orphan Communities”.
Here is his book he wrote: “Poverty My Teacher: Sustainable Communities”
Here is his other website: http://www.sustainablefamilycommunities.org my wife and I have done a bit of work on this site for him over the years.
But to move forward, there was one very interesting piece of information I ended up stumbling upon while researching more about the Fukuoka prefecture that led into another reason to come to Japan. I stumbled upon a man named Masanobu Fukuoka, and I saw he is was a ‘Do Nothing’ farmer that published several books and traveled around the world helping tribes to cities increase their food production and to end desertification in their area. The more I learned about him, the more I saw the opportunity to help Robert and his communities.
This did not surprise me when I saw it though as I feel like life is taking me for a ride and showing me what I need to know to accomplish the goals I’ve set out to accomplish, and this became just another reason to go to Japan to learn Japanese; I want to speak to more people about this that are and have done it. The process of ending dangerous methods of growing food that compromises not only the food itself but the land and people is something that interests me greatly for many many reasons. Robert Miller owns a few of Masanobu Fukuoka’s books, but he still needs people who are practicing this form of farming to talk to, to be able to implement it into the communities properly over time. Which again would be another reason for me to know Japanese, to be able to help ease any language barriers with this.
I find this information about Fukuoka-san really resonated with me because while I was in that mentorship group I also ended up finding a Dr. P here in Colorado who helped cure me of my sickness by helping me fast with proper foods and with herbs. I then started to understand more why people were getting sick because of food, and since then I’ve been a constant researcher of food and illnesses, and I’ve been getting more and more into the Japanese diet and how to use it prevent disease and to cure it, so I’m very interested in learning more about Japanese food and being able to use my knowledge of traditional Japanese food to help others (which leads to my desire to become more of a Japanese styled chef for my own personal reasons). This is the reason Fukuoka-san is so important to me and what I’d like to do with his work by passing it more easily to others who can take it and REALLY use it in everyday life, by being able to communicate with those who are practicing this technique!
I also ended up attracting a woman who stumbled upon a healing device called the ‘Life Vessel‘ (now called the ‘Harmonic Egg‘). This ‘fringe’ like healing device had me very skeptical for quite awhile when I first ran into the information and the device, but the more I’ve been dealing with Gail Lynn from http://lifecenter.us (a now client of mine) the more I’m finding that this healing technology could have a very precious place in Japan over time, as it continues to keep surprising health care practitioners and the scientists who are researching this device. It’s showing it has the capacity to eliminate not only heavy metals from the body, but also radiation. This could very well be something that could help a lot people effected by increased levels of radiation from the accident in Fukushima and any other place in Japan.
Of course this has huge benefit to the world, but I saw that my going to Japan could be helpful to certain people. This goal of mine is not something that would happen immediately, I would want to meet up with alternative and traditional health care professionals in Japan and possibly help them get a hold of this technology and see where it goes from there, so it’s more so to introduce the technology only and hope that it’s beneficial and is able to help people in need.
So to wind this down, I’d like to say, I could reach further into why I want to go to school in Japan. But I think if this doesn’t say it, I’m not sure what would. I absolutely love the idea of being able to speak Japanese, people call it one of the hardest languages in the world to learn and I want to prove to friends and family you can do whatever you set your mind to. When I started going to school as a kid I was considered ‘slow’ and ‘had trouble learning’. I was then stuck into a program called ‘Special Education’, from there they thought I wasn’t going to make anything of my life, in fact they said it to my face while I was in school all the way up until 11th grade (which is why I got my GED). I ended up continuing my education on my own and through mentors. I’m by nature a researcher, and because of that I’ve managed to continue learning new things since I left High School.
So yes, learning Japanese in Japan is for my own personal/selfish reasons, but I guess in the end, my desires and goals just so happen to be beneficial to a lot of people in the world and the magic that was set for me to do this continues to guide and push my limits. I can have, do or be anything I want, and learning Japanese is something that is going to help continue to prove that to myself, because I truly believe anyone is capable of miraculous things, and what a better way to teach that then to do it? All the while benefiting many people trying to do good in the world!
Thank you for your consideration,
Nathan Joseph Scheer