My Daily Life In Japan

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I’ll have a cup of routine! 

It’s a pity “routine” is seen as the antithesis of a “good” life in much of Western Culture. Growing up I was bombarded with quotes and slogans and messages from popular media that “life was meant to be lived as an adventure”. I got the message loud and clear that you weren’t living life right if you lived in a routine.

What’s sad is that this message is all wrong. We’re at our most productive when we have a good routine. The most important routines are the ones we develop for our daily life.

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What will we do tonight? Same thing we do every night. Try to take over the world!

Everything becomes routine in time — relationships, work, friendships, and even vacations. Patterns always develop. Stay in one place long enough and you’ll find yourself in one.

I mean, if every day were an adventure, then adventures would become routine. It’s Monday, time to thwart the Big Baddie… againYawn. A 9-5 workday would be a novelty. We’d complain how sick we were of exciting adventures. Could we just have one day off from saving the world, please?

Screen Shot 2018-07-25 at 11.40.47 PMOkay, Louis Lane, but saving you better not become a routine.

Without routine, my productivity falls dramatically. For example, I procrastinate and I end up watching TV more than accomplishing my goals. I don’t exercise like I should, I don’t cook my food, and I don’t get much writing done. A routine makes sure things get done.

I used to hate routine. It meant my life was going nowhere. Stick a fork in me because I was done. I saw routine like being forced to run endlessly like a hamster on a wheel. Life had no meaning if every day wasn’t full of excitement.

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What I feared my life becoming when I was a bright-eyed teenager

Oddly enough, I got interested in the daily lives, or routines, of people living in foreign countries. Just being in an exotic country seemed to make their life more exciting than my own. Then again, maybe I had rose-colored glasses on because not all routines — regardless of country — are healthy…

Funny story. I actually met the guy in this video. Super nice guy. Oh, and he said this video wasn’t his normal work routine. This was just an unusually busy work week.

Even when people share their “daily life” they rarely share their real daily life because that’s too boring. They pick a special day with lots of stuff to do. They want to be seen as busy and productive and living an exciting life full of adventure. The few that do share their real routine are often apologetic and say things like “Sorry, this was such a boring day in my life”.

We apologize for not living exciting enough lives! How weird is that?

Does it matter if a person isn’t interesting? Isn’t what we produce that’s most important?

Look at how J.K. Rowling wrote the seven Harry Potter Books. She had to fit in the writing around her routine.

There is this idea that interesting people naturally do interesting things.  I don’t think it works that way. First, sometimes people who make or do interesting things put so much of themselves into their creations that they have little left for themselves. Many writers have drained themselves dry for their masterpieces.

Leading an interesting daily life sucks up hours and times. Most of the Daily Life videos I watched showed people being busy, not productive. This is because doing stuff is more interesting than sitting at home or in a cafe writing, reading, studying, or learning a new skill.

The most productive parts of our daily lives are also the dullest for someone else to watch or hear about.

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A highly productive day, but a boring-ass “Daily Life” video. Most of the action happened in my head.

For me, busy routines are not as fulfilling as productive ones. It’s not to say that productive days aren’t busy, but certain types of productivity are very hard to capture on film or on paper.

Busy routines keep us distracted and in a constant state of motion. They can create the illusion of the go-getter. In my opinion, a good daily routine is one that leaves room to think, ponder, imagine, learn, and/ or problem-solve. Exercising, eating, and working are all necessities, but what you mentally do is just as — if not more — important as what you physically do.

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My best days happen in my head. A “Day in my Head” would be a lot more interesting than any “Day In My Life” video I could ever make. 

My daily life in Japan involves a lot of daydreaming.

When I fold the laundry, I’m probably also working out a plot point for chapter 3.

While I cook breakfast, I’m working out my next blog post.

As I water the plants I wonder about last night’s TV show. I remember my favorite parts.

All an outsider would see is me staring very intently at the plants.

My Daily Life in Japan is also my Daily Thoughts.

There is a strange fascination in the routines of others, in seeing how they really live their lives. We are not as boring as we think we are. People are interested in people. We only think our own daily life is boring because we compare it to others.

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Create or do interesting things and you'll naturally 
be interesting to others.

My main point is that a daily life is not about keeping yourself occupied. I see many Japanese keep their schedules packed out of fear that they’re “wasting time” if they have quiet moments. (Gotta fit a yoga class in there!) They tout their busy routines with pride of “SEE? My life is exciting because it’s busy.”

Doing that kind of routine will cause the “Hamster-on-a-wheel” feeling. You’re running so hard and yet have little to show for it, but man aren’t you exciting? Whereas a productive routine adds a little more to your life story, a word here or a chapter there, a life story that will hopefully be written over decades. Some of those days are a sentence and some might be whole chapters. A productive routine keeps your story going.

Here is a daily life routine I find interesting, the type I feel shows more than just being busy:

Video By Internationally ME

My daily life in Japan is full of things that add joy to my life. Only now do I realize that routine isn’t to be feared. It is the type of routines we live by that govern our happiness.

My Daily Life In Japan

On days I don’t work, I wake up around 9:00 am and I take my vitamins and Chinese herbs. Then, I heat up the water for my cafe latte before toasting an English muffin. I fix a bowl of cereal high in fiber and a bowl of yogurt mixed with a tasty vitamin powder.

After breakfast, I wash my face with various skincare items (I struggle with some adult acne) before watering the plants in the garden. Next, I write and write and edit and edit.

Before lunch, I run on the treadmill and do yoga.

Afterwards, I drive to a nearby cafe and study Japanese.

Later, I buy the ingredients for dinner and cook something. My husband will text when his train arrives and I pick him up.

It hardly sounds exciting.

But I love it.

There is a peacefulness in my life, a blissful feeling as I sit in our morning kitchen and write while sunlight streams through the glass doors that lead to the backyard.

I sometimes walk to the nearby mall area and wander the bookstores in Japan (Japan still has lots of bookstores). Or I browse the DVDs in the nearby DVD store. Sometimes I go to Tokyo and enjoy Bingsu in Koreatown or explore something new in Tokyo while I wait for a weekly appointment there.

There will always be a gap in my life that I wish I could have filled with kids, but these small joys keep me thriving.

I look forward to these routines for my days off. I feel energized by them and inspired to keep going no matter what.

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Mornings

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Living near Tokyo has its perks.

What is your favorite parts about your own routines?

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17 thoughts on “My Daily Life In Japan

  1. When I was a teenager, I used to be the person who’d have awesome adventures with their friends. Most of it didn’t involve travelling (as I would have loved), but more of just picking up, going out and exploring or doing whatever activity that popped into our minds at the time. As an adult, now that I have my routine, I find it to be very precious. Similarly to you, if I don’t follow my routine for a day then I also start to procrastinate and waste away time I could have spent being productive. Also for me, it will make me fall into bouts of depression, which is never a good thing. I also agree that having a routine makes those adventures feel more rewarding and exciting because if you have adventures every single day, then it doesn’t feel like anything extraordinary. For example, all of the stuff I did when I was much younger, I had always felt were normal until I start having conversations with others and realise how much it was the opposite. But because I did it constantly, I lost my appreciation for it.

    Anyhoo, thanks for this post! I loved reading it and gained insight on myself as well. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It’s funny how things we think are normal can be such a surprise to others. Growing up in the countryside, there are a lot of stuff I thought were normal (raising crops and animals, fishing in the pond) that my city-raised friends had never done (many don’t even know how to do).

      I am really glad to hear this post connected with you. It makes me feel less alone in this. I think it would be good if others learned to appreciate the joy of healthy routines.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I agree with you on everything!! I also grew up with people telling me that you have to do exciting things, that you have to have stories to tell and so on. But the truth is, that I LOVE having a routine. Like you, I find a lot of joy in toasting my bread everymorning, washing my face with the same soap, tying up my hair in the same way! I think it’s part of the process of enjoying small things 😄
    I loved your post, there is such a quietness and peacefulness coming out of your routine 😍

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, yes! Good routines enrich us. I wish I hadn’t been bombarded with “routines are the worst”. They are so important to living a happy life and helping us find joy in small things.

      I liked your comment about “tying up my hair the same way”. For some reason that struck me. I realized I also like to tie up my hair the same way. I found a style I’m comfortable with and I really like it that way. I don’t want to get stuck in my ways, but if I like it that way then why not do it that way?

      I don’t know, but your comment got me thinking about something I hadn’t considered.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I was wild as a teenager and young adult–I had serious FOMO. But then I got sick with my Crohn’s at age 24, and I had to learn moderation, self discipline, and restraint–my body simply wouldn’t allow me to GO GO GO. I discovered a love of bodybuilding/fitness modeling and that required me to stick to a strict schedule of workouts, meal prep, and rest. I couldn’t eat out or drink alcohol. And everyone said “How do you do that? I want to look like that!” And it was really SO simple–I followed my routine religiously.
    Now as an adult, I enjoy my routines–I get bad anxiety when I’m out of routine. And oddly enough, I’ve discovered I’m an introvert (no one would guess) but I find intense situations with lots of people draining. I love to observe people but I hate being observed. Everything you said really resonated with me Mara! I adore you ❤ XO

    Liked by 2 people

    1. My brother went through a similar thing with diabetes. He keeps to a strict routine. If he doesn’t he could ruin his health. Having type 1 has caused him a lot of angst and anger, but his routine makes him feel like he can have some control over his disease. That he is not helpless to his body’s whims.

      He also keeps fit and his friends ask him the same “How do you do that?”

      Stick to the routine.

      I think I’m also pretty introverted, or at least I live in my head a lot (and it’s a party in there hehe).

      Observing people is fascinating. It seems like most of my friends on social media want others to observe them instead of vice-versa. Never understood that.

      As you said, it’s not comfortable being observed.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Really interesting post. I often just stare into space lost in my thoughts or coming up with new blog post ideas too! I’m a planner and I used to always want to plan every day and didn’t like the feeling of not having it all mapped out. Like if it were the weekend and nothing was organized I would worry about “wasting” the day by not doing something interesting I guess! My husband is the opposite, he finds plans can feel like obligations and he would much rather be spontaneous. Those can end up being the best days I now know. For instance this morning we missed the bus we had planned to get so instead went for a walk, wandering around and came across a local farm. We spontaneously bought some eggs & maultaschen (a german version of ravioli) and then came home and cooked a nice lunch. It doesn’t sound that interesting typing it out but it was a nice spontaneous morning!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It can be so hard to capture such wonderful moments in words or pictures. There was much more to what can be seen or written. I like spontaneous moments as well. I just realized that those moments can’t be special if they’re every day.

      Sounds like you and your husband are the perfect match, the planner and the “anything can happen” guy.

      Thanks for reading and commenting on my post. 🙂

      Like

  5. This was such a great post! I find myself doing the same thing, watching other people live in different countries and just having an interesting routine! It makes me feel dull at times and has made me look down on my own life and routine. Great post ! Going to follow.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much! It’s good to know I’m not alone in this. Growing up, I felt confused how to live a good life. If routine was bad, but everything we do will become routine, then how do we live fulfilling lives? Hollywood and media have the message all wrong.

      Bad routines will leave us empty, but good ones will make every day special. The answer is to build one you love with moments you look forward to.

      Thanks for following!

      Like

  6. Interesting read about your daily life in Tokyo. I remember visited last summer. It seemed like the vibe in the city was that everyone was busy. Until I spoke to some people on the street. It seem like they were very open to meeting new people and break out of routine.

    I guess there are pros and cons about routine. I haven’t really thought about it that much. But, I see where your coming from. When your mind thinks of all types of things you rather be doing. I appreciate this post. It was an enjoyable read.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I liked the whole discussion of adventure and routine and if you always had adventure, that would become routine although there are people who are too content with being mundane. At least my life, I get my excitement from eating food in my fridge that I only know it might be about a week old… so much adventure for me.

    Like

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