A reader recently asked: should I move to Japan, or Norway? I get similar questions a lot, and I think we all know the answer.
Okay, first off, Norway’s great if you like cross-country skiing, hats with horns, and wood. On the other hand, Japan might be your spot if you enjoy wearing bathrobes with swords, eating Cup-o-Noodles, and riding tiny bicycles. But either way, none of that matters, and I’ll tell you why.
Dating Japanese Women
So last year, I was dating a couple of ladies. Let’s just call them, um, Satoko and Emi, since those are their names. And things finally got to the point where going out for two Christmas dinners to Kentucky Fried Chicken and giving two sets of White Day chocolates got to be a bit much, and I decided to make a choice. So I did what any reasonable person would, which was to sit down with a ouija board, pad of paper, quill pen, and two cans of malt liquor. And I started tallying their respective good and bad points, along with some numeric values.
Satoko was great in bed, so that rated a solid 8. Emi, on the other hand, owned a black Mercedes, which was clearly a 9. Hey, you never get tired of driving a really nice car. As for drawbacks, Satoko lived next-door to her old boyfriend, so that was minus about a million, while Emi had this glass eye. Lost her real one in a gym class accident in high school. The women I date, seriously. Anyway, I know the eye shouldn’t have mattered—-I mean, fake boobs add points, so you’d think a fake eyeball would be awesome. Especially if it was huge. But in the end, I had to go with a minus two.
Finally, I added everything up, lit some candles, consulted the ouija board, slammed a third malt liquor, and all the numbers pointed to Satoko. But ultimately, for some reason, I threw out the math and decided on Emi. Because logic isn’t how you make decisions. Math never works. We’re all possessed with an ancient monkey brain that somehow short-circuits logical processes. And then three months after deciding on Emi, I ended up with this entirely different girl named Erika. Things have a strange way of working out. It’s like Russian hackers stole my election.
Moving to Japan
Deciding on Japan’s the same way. You’re gonna make a long list of pros and cons, do a bunch of calculus, carry the one, then crumple everything up and chuck it all in the trash, because monkey brain. You know Japan rates low in happiness and high in suicides. But samurai! But maid cafes! See, you’re halfway on the plane already. I could tell you about the lady murdered in my neighborhood, or all the folks who save three bucks by dumping their TVs in the river rather than recycling them, and you’d say, But Ken, l love sushi! I read manga! What’s that got to do with it? Are you even paying attention? Ah, go buy a ticket already.
Bottom line is: people don’t make rational decisions. They spend thousands of dollars smoking cigarettes to give themselves cancer. They get married. They ride motorcycles. We’re talking something terrible for carrying groceries, that loses value quickly, and which you’ll only get to ride once a month if the weather’s good. And that’s just the wife. You’d be lucky if you could trade in the bike for a decent used car. Try throwing in your spouse and making it a two-for-one deal. That’s a win-win.
So if Japan came with a massive Surgeon General’s warning slapped on its side, would that change your mind? Nope. But still, let me offer up a couple of thoughts.
First, if you’re thinking about learning Japanese—-congratulations; way to double-down on your bet. Then if things don’t work out, at least you’ve spent years learning a language useful nowhere else.
Second, people make a place. If you surround yourself with friendly, cool, and caring people, you’ll probably be pretty happy wherever you’re at. And if you don’t, you won’t. It might be worth considering how many cool Japanese people you know. I know two. And now both of them live in L.A. Just saying.
But Just tell me Yes or No
I’ve always been a Yes guy. Should I have another beer? Why, yes, I should. Should I stay in this ramshackle bar chatting up a girl who seems mildly interested even though I’m gonna miss the last train? Who we kidding—-you know I’m never heading home. Should I call in sick because she balked at the brilliant idea of a love hotel so I attempted to walk home then wound up sleeping in my suit on a yellow slide in the kiddie park? Oh, that’s definitely a yes.
Saying yes is easy. And if there’s two or more choices, Ken Seeroi’s definitely going with easy. So yeah, come on to Japan, what the hell. It’s worked out great for me. After a decade, I’ve got a closet full of moldy shoes, a rusted-out car, and a girlfriend desperate to have a baby. Livin’ the dream. But I’ve still got two tall malt liquors in my tiny fridge, so party on.
I consulted with an old friend of mine about the Satoko-Emi dilemma. The dude’s a genius; he’s literally a Philosophy professor. I was back in the States for a week, and we met for what Americans call beer and French fries.
“God, this lager’s terrible,” I said. “Anyway, these two ladies, they’ve both got pros and cons.”
He held up a ketchup-covered French fry like a pointer-stick and said, “Ken, no matter what you choose, you regret it later.”
“Are you talking about the beer, or the women?” I asked.
“Any rule that applies equally well to beer and women, I like.”
“Hey, I wrote a book about it,” he said.
Making a choice—-that’s literally the hardest thing to do in life. But still, you might want to choose the one with the lowest impact. Maybe start with a tattoo of the rising sun on your calf, rather than one across your forehead. You want to date Japan, not marry it. Over fifty percent of all marriages to Japan end in divorce, you know. That’s statistics. But yeah, let me know when you’ve booked a flight.