Yeah. 4 or 5 times, depending on how you count (the 4th was because I had to leave the country so I could re-enter and get a new visa).
After university I lived in a city called Sendai for a year and a bit. That’s near where the tsunami hit. And no, I was back in the UK when it happened. But yes, I went out shortly afterwards to see friends and do a little bit of volunteer work.
Then last year I went out to Sapporo, a city on the northern island of Hokkaido, for 3 months as part of a research project for college. That also meant that I could meet some of the OMF students and that I’ll be studying alongside when I go out to do my initial language learning.
And this summer I went with a ‘Kids Gospel’ team out to Tokyo for a few weeks.
So I’m not going out totally unaware of what I’m getting myself into. I have a bit of the language and I understand some of the culture. I still haven’t got used to eating ‘Natto’ – a food so vile I don’t even want to talk about it – and I have much, much more to learn, but I am very excited about the idea of living in Japan long-term.