The words that died when we moved here

“It’s not my thing.”

Or AKA “I don’t want to try it.” Are words that have died forever since moving to Japan. I remember coming here, having no idea what life would be like for Kyle and me. We both decided, that together and separately, we would try everything twice. We didn’t want to regret saying, “No.” to any trivial thing just because we were uncomfortable, or it wasn’t on our list of normal every day/night activities we usually did. I mean, c’mon… Is living in Japan really our thing? No. It isn’t. I think the best decision we ever made was to never ever use that horrible phrase again, and it has been the number one reason that within a month, Kyle had a job and we already felt like we’d been living here for years. 

Some might be wondering, “C’mon Tori, what do you do now that you actually didn’t consider “your thing” before you got here? To answer that golden question: Just about everything. Before i get into a few of them. I want to show you exactly why I got thinking about this. Last week, I found some old picture CD’S from our first year in Hirosaki. When I saw them, I just sorta said to myself, “If anyone from home who hadn’t been keeping up with us since 2010 saw these pictures, I don’t know that they’d recognize us at all. Or even assume we’d do something like it.” What is it we did? We agreed to be models… Yup. The both of us, in completely separate shows. US! The “short” stocky people.


Kyle modeling a Denim Jinbei at a Street Lounge / Mojha collaboration.


Me modeling for a Mojha Kimono show.

I look at these pictures and think, “Who are these people?” We made a life for ourselves by saying “Yes!” to things, when we were really thinking, “No.” The cool thing about trying new things, is that you tried them. If you don’t like them after that, then fine. An activity that you’ve tried before will most likely be completely different in a new country too! And you might love it after you try it out again after not visiting it for a while. I just think, especially for people who move to an entirely different country, you miss out on so much by brushing off activities that you may not normally do at home.  We’ve been lucky to meet the right people within weeks of our arrival in Japan, but the thing about that, is that we only did because we did things that were outside of our normal every day activities. But, now our life is very rich and full of some really wonderful lifelong friends.

“It’s not my thing.”

Here’s a list of things that were NOT our thing at ALL when we moved here:

#1 Modeling

Like I said, we never did any of that, or were ever interested before. But when our friends asked us, we just said, “Sure, why not?” The first show I ever said “Yes” to was run by Eri Odaira. We hit it off and she has been one of my best friends in Hirosaki for about 3 years. She’s done so much for me since coming here, and given me tons of opportunities I would not have had while being in this country. She is super rad. (Eri is now one of my best friends)

Eri, the owner of Mojha, where she hand-stitches kimonos and makes fun accessories. Her husband DJ's at clubs around the prefecture.

Eri, the owner of Mojha, where she hand-stitches kimonos and makes fun accessories. Her husband DJ’s at clubs around the prefecture.

#2 Clubbing

Kyle and I were definitely not club goers, especially frequent club goers. I had the occasional girl’s night, but it was once every few months or so. I don’t think we’d even consider it our thing now that we’re doing it. But, we go because some of our close Japanese friends go, to support their other friends who are either DJing or bartending. It might seem funny to you, but one of my best Japanese friends I met while clubbing. We exchanged numbers and we have been friends ever since. She wasn’t really a ‘clubber’ either. Now, it’s a monthly thing we do to show support to friends who have done a lot for us since moving to Japan. (We get to spend time with other JETs and people from base, and support our friends)

Kasey Crawford. Kyle's clubbing homie our first year:)

Kasey Crawford. Kyle’s one true wing man:)

#3 Tahitian dancing

Dancing, me? Really? HAHAHAHA… No but really… totally new experience. Never did a dance class in my life, was never in drama, and definitely not choreography. But, Tahitian dance has been something that has made me fall in love with Island culture so much. I love it. It’s quite an expensive hobby, and even when I imagine myself getting all dolled up to perform in front of people, it still weirds me out. I love the girls on my team, and it has helped me learn that I can do something I never thought I could! (Met some amazing women and good friends, found a love for Island culture/dance)

My first solo dance EVER!! I danced and choreographed everything BY MYSELF!!

My first solo dance EVER!! I danced and choreographed everything BY MYSELF!!

#4 Going to bars as a past time

Kyle doesn’t drink alcohol, and I barely drank anything before I got here. For me, it was mainly because I was super cheap and didn’t want to spend all that money at home on going to bars. Kyle has his own reasons, but still has not drank since college. Plus, the people I met there weren’t very awesome. But now, I go quite often just to hangout and see people I like. In fact, I have teamed up with Sho, a great friend of mine, to help promote monthly events at his bar. The goal he had when he opened the bar was for it to become a place that foreigners and Japanese people could come and exchange culture and language freely. I totally support his cause, and love him, his bro, and Task (bar worker/friend) so of course Kyle and I said “Yes!” In teaming up and promoting it. I became a bar promoter? What? (Meet people every time we go, and strengthen our friendships while we do)


#5 Hosting people

Kyle lived in a tiny place before we got here. It was an attachment to a garage and we never had people over. Ever. But we moved here, and decided to open up our home to whoever wants to come and stay. not only do people from JET stay, but we joined an online community called, “Couch Surfing” and we literally host strangers that pass through. We’ve both come to love and be pretty good at being hosts with the most:) (We now have friends all around the world)

Hosting our friends + Couch Surfer Preston:) Who, is now one of our faves.

Hosting our friends + Couch Surfer Preston:) Who, is now one of our faves.

#6 Tattoos

OK, so Kyle was definitely into tattoos before he got here, and has always loved tattoo culture. Before I got here, I loved the idea of tattoos… My mom had always got me interested in Native American art and tattooing as a kid, and I have always loved seeing peoples’ ink. When I got here though, I had one tiny little baby tattoo on my wrist, and I didn’t think I’d be making my thoughts of “tattoos I would get” to “tattoos I will have in a couple of months”. But alas, now I do:) (Haya and Taku have become like family through the process)


Shop boys along with guest artist Boog and photographer/producer Mike Rif Nunez. Look at my naked little arm!

So, these are just a few of the things we are now a part of but weren’t before:) There are tons more, but that would take far too long to explain. All-in-all the reason that I would encourage anyone going on some random trip to another country to try new things, is because of the people you meet in all the different places in life. We have made some of the best friendships of our lives through doing things that were “not our thing”. I am grateful for all these chances, and am so glad we don’t pass up those moments simply because they don’t fit our category of things we like to do.

I still look at parts of life and wonder, “Without knowing Japanese, how the heck did I get here?” Life is sweet, and I encourage you all to trash that crappy phrase, “It’s not my thing.”


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