Interviewed & written by Isao Tokuhashi
Mail to: email@example.com
Raymond Crosiar (USA)
High school teacher
(He’s been in Japan since January 2002)
We met a calm, but very energetic American guy. Raymond Crosiar came from
a small village in the state of Oregon. It was a journey from a village to the megalopolis. How did he feel about that? How does he enjoy his daily life in Tokyo?
*Interview in Yokohama
From a small village to the metropolis
I came from a very small town in Oregon. Its population is 2,500. I flew to Japan, I got on the express train from Narita Airport and came to Yokohama. And I was absolutely shocked because there were so many people everywhere, lights, noise, that was insane. So it was like going from a nice, quiet park in the countryside to the middle of Tokyo or something like that. The exact opposite.
“Go to Japan!”
A friend of mine created an opportunity for me to come to Japan.
When I graduated university in 2001, the US economy was on the downhill slide. Three months later there were the terrorist attacks, so the economy took a dump and I couldn’t find a good job. I was actually doing manual labor which was very irritating because I had a bachelor’s degree.
I was talking to my friend one weekend, I was actually complaining about my job. He said, “Go to Japan!” He had experience of staying in Japan but I thought, “What is he talking about?” I’m complaining about my job and he suggested me going to a foreign country. I don’t have money and I don’t have time for a holiday.
He told me about working in Japan as an English teacher so I typed “Teaching in Japan” in Google or something. It came up with the big five language schools in Japan. I sent my resume to each of them. And I got a job at a large English school in Japan and I worked there for two years. That’s why I came to Japan. There was no specific purpose.
I took a long time to get used to the big city
The only thing I knew about Japan before I came here was what most Americans know about Japan relating to World War II. And of course, the late 80s when Japan was in the bubble economy period. That’s all I knew mainly about Japan.
When I arrived at Narita Airport, I was kind of overwhelmed. There are so many people in the big city so there isn’t much space. On the other hand, where I come from, we have a lot of space. So we respect each other’s personal space a lot more. But as soon as I landed at Narita Airport, everybody was on top of everybody. When I was standing in line at immigration, a person behind me was standing so close to me and he was touching my backpack.
It took a year and a half to become very, very comfortable living in a big city and Japan. Now it’s just normal but it’s been five years.
Nobody knows me here. It’s quite nice
I like people in Japan. When they do something, they try to do it as best they can and they put all their energy into it. So if you want to do something different and start it, you go out and do it with all your energy. It’s just normal here.
Also In general, most people keep themselves clean. I think it happens in the West that if a place starts getting a little dirty, it slides very quickly. That’s an area where nobody really wants to go. But I think people try very hard to keep it clean here. So I don’t think areas here as much go to the extreme dirtiness.
And here, nobody knows me. Being anonymous. It’s quite nice.
“You have to clean your own kitchen before you clean other people’s.”
In Japan, foreign people commit roughly 3% of all crime. It’s a statistical fact. So foreign residents are responsible for 3% of the crime. That means Japanese people commit 97% of all crime.
But if you read the newspaper or watch the news, you’d get the feeling that foreign people commit all of the crime. Even if foreigner says, “We don’t do this.”, the reaction from Japanese people is, “Yes.” The pecking order seems to be Chinese people, Korean people and other foreigners.
It’s very disturbing because it’s not right. Foreigners do not commit all the crime. And second, why is it necessary for the news programs and newspapers to feed Japanese fears about foreigners.
If you want to have a book about foreigners and their crimes in Japan, how about Japanese crimes in Japan? Actually the case in Tokyo where the young man cut his sister up into little pieces. Or the wife that cut her husband up into pieces.
But almost everything bad is blamed on foreigners. We have a saying in the West, “You have to clean your own kitchen before you clean other people’s.”
Leaving your country just opens up your mind
I prefer living outside of my country because it allows me a different view of the world. If you’re in America, all the information you get passively, watching the news, or TV, it’s all America. When you leave your country, you can look at it from a distance and you also get Japan’s opinion of America. The government’s opinion, people’s opinion, China’s opinion… I think living outside of your country allows you to look at your country and see it for how it really is. And much easier you can see the good points and bad points. It just opens up your mind.
You’re a guest
If you’re going to a foreign country, realize that. “Everything is different.” And you have to remember that you’re a guest in other countries. No matter how long you live in the country, you are still a guest.
but don’t expect to be treated like a guest, but you should always act like a guest. Things are different. It’s not good or bad. It’s different.
If you want to emerge in the culture, start learning the language as soon as possible. You don’t have to like the culture, but respect the culture and customs. If you can get away from the subculture of English teaching, and get into the “real Japan” and you can be much more comfortable.
What is Tokyo to you?
Tokyo is everything that I’m interested in and everything I hate.
Because some days you go to Tokyo and you say “Wow, this is great!”
But another day it’s just like, “Oh, god! I have to go to Tokyo.”
Tokyo represents opportunity to do what you want and to be who you wanna be. And a kind of hope, I guess. Just a big city.