Life Things To Do in Japan When You’re Not Teaching English

I still live in Japan.

I’m not teaching English at the moment.

I’m not trying to teach at the moment.

I’m just living in Japan.

So what does one do when they are living in Japan but not teaching? That’s a difficult question because, by and large, most foreigners in Japan are English teachers. Teaching English is the easiest way to get a long-term pass to live in another country. Nothing else compares.

Yes, there are travel bloggers, business people, students, etc., but it’s teachers that make up the greatest number of Western foreigners in a country like Japan.

I’m not teaching now as I am venturing down a different road, but the facts of life are still the facts of life.

Whether you’re a teacher or something else, there are still things that need to be done to actually LIVE in another country. As an English teacher though, many of the life necessities are typically cared for on your behalf. Things like apartments, health insurance, and visas are usually organized by the employer.

In my case, that’s not the case.

I have no safety blanket any longer. Everything that has to be done to live a normal, daily life needs to be done by yours truly. It’s a very different experience.

Just imagine moving to a new location, even within your own country. What would you need to do? For the most part, those are the same things that I need to do, only in Japan. These things include:

Finding an apartment – this is one of the biggest details. When you’re an English teacher, many times the school will provide an apartment with furnishings. Providing an apartment also includes the down payment, or key money as it’s called in Korea and Japan. Since I’m not employed by a school, I needed to do all of this on my own. I had to work with a realtor to find a place, buy all the furnishings including bedding and appliances, put money down, and coordinate all the utilities. Since I have some friends here it wasn’t quite as difficult as it could’ve been. Still, it’s much more work than if it was done for me.

Driver’s license – this is something that isn’t really required in any situation. Even the one that I’m in now. Usually, when teaching English, the understanding is that you’ll be there for one or two years before taking off. Because of that, public transportation is usually good enough during your stay. However, in my case, I am living in an area and embarking on an endeavor where a driver’s license will vastly improve my quality of life.

This means being 16 years old all over again. I need to take (and pass) a written exam and also a practical driving test. Doesn’t sound too bad, right? Well, Japan drives on the opposite side of the road from America. It’s going to be a tricky ordeal. It’s also my understanding that most people need to take the exam multiple times before passing because of the way the questions are worded. Either way, I need to get a driver’s license sooner than later and this wasn’t something I ever thought I’d be dealing with.

Paying the BILLS – this is the big cheese. If you don’t teach English or land a job with a company (which usually entails high-level bilingual abilities), how do you make money? Well, the short version is I wouldn’t be here right now if I didn’t at least have a plan. And essentially, that’s all I have at the moment. A plan.

I’m starting a business here in Hiroshima with a friend I met through judo. A foreigner. It’s a daring direction, but one I knew I had to take. It was really the next step in my life abroad. It was that, or go back home.

I really enjoyed the time I spent teaching English and the process of improving myself to become a better teacher. However, I think I came to a place where I realized that it couldn’t be the final chapter in my life. I know I like being an expat, but I need to move into another arena. One with greater promise for achieving my personal goals.

Does that mean I will NEVER teach again? No. Not necessarily. It does mean, though, that I won’t be teaching for a while. I’m going the route of the Red Dragon Diaries and all that it represents to myself and others, and I’m going to go next level with it.

This is a scary concept. It’s incredibly difficult, if not nearly impossible to create a life around the details of a life. Which…is what the Red Dragon Diaries is. My life over the past 5 years. Though, I won’t be using blogging and videos to get there. It’s another plan. I will continue to blog and make videos because I really enjoy doing those things.

It’s scary but possible for one reason and one reason only.


I’ve come to realize that I’m passionate about the sharing process. Writing, videos, social media engagement; it’s awesome. And over the course of 5 years I’ve created a library of diary entries, if you will. About my life. About food. About judo. About successes and failures. The ups and downs. The sacrificing of traditional goals for a new standard.

It’s going to be a great ride and I’m just as excited about what will come as anybody because I don’t know what the future holds. But I’m here now and setting up shop for that next level. It’s not for everyone. But I’m doing it.


  1. Wishing you the best, Tom, in your new endeavor. Very exciting!

  2. I hope and pray that things go very well for you Tom.

  3. Excited for what lies ahead for you as you begin your next adventure!

  4. Hey Tom, Always interested to learn what’s going on for you. I have a friend that travels to Asia frequently and said he prefers Japan over Korea because it’s much more organized and modern…than Korea. This amazes me, becuase compared to the USA, Korea is so much more technologically advanced and modernized! Wow! What’s your take on that opinion? I often wish to return to Korea. Starting a biz would be great if you could get through all the hurdles. More freedom, and more challenges I suppose. Anyway, Happy (Chinese) New Year and konnichiwa for your posts. Can’t wait to hear about your biz and how you managed it all. Don’t forget, your posts made it easier as I moved to Korea back in 2013! You were in Busan, me: Tongyeong! Cheers, Gina

  5. Hoping for the best outcome on your behalf, your business partner’s behalf, the judo students who will join, and the families of the judo students!! May 2017 be another come up and platform for you in your life for it to be meaningful and authentic in the ways you desire! Praying for more of the peace and wisdom of God to be revealed for God’s will in your life Tom!

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