With strict border rules for COVID-19, the country’s susceptibility to natural disasters, tricky language and cultural barriers, and both family responsibilities and career opportunities back home, it can feel to some international residents like there are more reasons to leave than to stay in Japan. Thinking about your life here, why is it that you have chosen to stay?

“I’m still in Japan because of Dyson vacuum cleaners, lol. My Japanese boyfriend failed the final interview for a position working between Dyson’s UK and Japan branches, which scrapped his idea of getting a UK visa. He actually threw out our Dyson vacuum and bought an Iris Ohyama one after that. I can’t imagine growing old here, but I also can’t imagine going home; I’ll never fit in here, but I already established so much and settled here. Every day is a paradox like this. There’s no guidebook for this feeling, so I don’t really know how to handle it.”

Amelie (UK), mid 20s–30s, 4 years in Japan

“Besides the fact that my husband is Japanese, the health insurance keeps me very comfortable here. I don’t have to think about affordable healthcare versus moving back to the States, where I have to calculate how I can afford every part of my adult life.”

Emory (U.S.), mid 20s–30s, 7 years in Japan

“I think people stay here because it’s comfortable and predictable. There are no deadly diseases, there is very low petty crime, good food, a pretty good climate and good healthcare. I also think the risk of natural disasters is well-managed here. Language is not an issue — or language is not the issue; no matter how good your Japanese is, you’re unlikely to become part of their society or share their mentality. Everything else is sorted out by your smartphone. Personally, what does disturb me is the lack of personal freedom.”

Reka (Hungary), mid 40s– 50s, 3 years in Japan

“I’m studying and working in the music industry, and Japan and Korea are so close in this respect. Japan has the world’s second-largest music industry, and K-pop and J-pop are increasingly mixing, so this was a good opportunity for me. Unfortunately, most of my international peers weren’t so lucky, and had to move to schools in other countries. Japan damaged its reputation by closing its borders to students for so long. But I know I have many opportunities here once I graduate, so I think I will stay regardless.”

Jin (South Korea), mid 20s-30s, 5 years in Japan

“My husband doesn’t really speak English, so his life would be stressful if we moved to Canada. I’m staying in Tokyo for that reason, but I constantly worry about my family back home. Which responsibility should take precedence? To be there for my husband and the life we built, or to be there for my family?”

Mel (Canada), mid 20s–30s, 4 years in Japan

“We love our life in Japan. The country is so diverse, and we have explored and experienced so much. It’s a safe, fun and beautiful place to raise children. The people here have been so welcoming and kind and of course, the food is heaven on Earth!”

Holly (UK), mid 30s–40s, almost 3 years in Japan