I first had my fateful meeting with Japan when I was 12. In middle school I studied Japanese for a short time. During this time, I had the joy of participating in a 2 week homestay in Ibaraki. It was from that point that I knew I wanted to live in Japan some day.
It really was my one true focus for the years to follow and while there were many stumbles, tumbles and roadblocks along the way, I was able to keep busy with rock band activities and various odd jobs. Finally at the age of 24 I came to Japan as a technician for a vending machine company. I've been here ever since.
In many ways it felt like the dream to live in Japan was a guiding light for me through some tough times. It gave me something to aim at, and my love for Japanese music and the kindness of many dear Japanese friends helped keep me on track. After finally achieving the goal of getting to Japan and living in Japan, I focused my efforts on just staying here. I went full force into my work and aimed to enjoy a normal life in Japan. Unforgettable memories were made, and incredible chance meetings set me on new paths I didn't imagine.
Coming back to doing music was never a must for me, but through the support of friends, again, I was pulled back into various musical projects and live shows. Doing music put me on the path to meet my wife. After getting married, decisions about my future then became more about my family and not just my childhood dreams.
As many of you know, I became a full-time professional recording artist. I was able to experience more and learn more about the entire country of Japan and my love and admiration for this country continued to grow. Over that period of time, I began to seriously consider my future. With or without a music career, for the sake of my family I wanted to create a stronger bond with this country that had become my new home, and well as it being the home of my wife and her family. Around this time I also found out I would have my first child. At that point I decided to apply for citizenship in Japan.
It was a clear and easy decision to make for me personally. For 20 years my life has been linked to this country and I have been blessed with love and support from so many people. I wanted to share the same nationality as my wife and son, as well as be more involved in the future of this wonderful country. I found out this year that my application was approved and I was granted citizenship.
I cannot speak for others as to whether or not naturalization is the right thing to do, but I know that for me it was the right choice. I love this country and I want to be able to help this country more than I could in my limited capacity as a visa-based foreigner/long-term resident. I want to share in the responsibility of helping maintain the culture and history of this country, as well as help younger generations forge the future of this country. I also want to share my acquired knowledge about Japan to the people of the world. I want you to know the Japan I've come to know. I want people to love Japan as much as I've come to love it.
I do not think that this process has made me "Japanese". I am a Japanese citizen and there is a distinction in my mind between being Japanese and being a Japanese citizen. Nonetheless as someone adopted into the overall "family" of Japan, I want to take my responsibilities and chances seriously.
For other who dream of coming to Japan and experiencing the many wonderful things it has to offer, I encourage you to keep following your dreams. While they may not all come true, by just trying you will find opportunity and change. My path was never straightforward and I lost just as much as I've gained, but the things I have gained are incredible and priceless. I hope everyone will be able to have those same opportunities.
While I have no definitive goals set in place, I hope that I will have the chance to better share with you all around the world, the many wonderful things about Japan.
with love & gratitude,