A few weeks before I flew back to the Netherlands, I was already not feeling very well. I was overworked, stressed, and a bit directionless after the publication of my new book, Deze autist ging naar Japan. I had just hired Olga, mostly because that would look good; a business manager who doesn’t manage anyone, of course the Japanese immigration bureau thinks that’s odd.
Last month I photographed Cynthia. Among the internet veterans perhaps better known as Miss Lipgloss, but nowadays blogging under the name Cynthia.nl, because we’re all not 15 anymore, and that sticky substance your hair got caught in is more than welcome to stay in the 00’s. So, Cynthia. A surprising development for some, because eh, you didn’t like each other much, did you?
Thanks to the launch of my new book (and a cringeworthy opinion piece in Trouw that we had to respond to), I have been in the papers, on the radio and even on TV over the past few months. While I was generally pleased with the coverage, I also worried from time to time, as some of the headlines were somewhat unsubtle. Although I invariably did my best to emphasize the diversity of both Japan and autism, that didn’t always come across well.
“Yukarigaoka, city where you can see the future,” read the inscription on the 40-year-old people mover (often called monorail, but it’s not the same) making its rounds through the town. Yukarigaoka, or Eucalyptus Heights, was built as a feat of urban development that Walt Disney dreamed about in his EPCOT days. High-rise buildings with lots of greenery, large malls with facilities and, to keep it all car-free, a largely elevated people mover that runs circles to and from the main train station.
As an autistic person, I sometimes find it difficult to manage stimuli. It is often too much, and if I go beyond my limits I sometimes have to recover for days. In my book I wrote about how I learned to create structure by planning. Now you may be thinking: Sure, planning is good, but how exactly do you do that? While I don’t think there is one method, and I believe everyone has to figure out what works for themselves, I have listed eight points below that have perfected my planning over the past ten years. I hope you find them helpful.
The day before yesterday, I had surgery. This was no surprise to me, and nothing serious either, because I had already planned this operation six months ago. In January of this year, when I was also in the Netherlands for a while, I went for an intake at the Bergman Clinic.
In four days I will fly back to the Netherlands for a month. My last visit was in January, so it was about time. I have to, because my little brother is getting married, and of course I have to be there. The wedding is not in the Netherlands, by the way, but in the south of France. Good, we’ll fly there too.
Hooray, my visa has been extended! I heard a few days before Riemer came (and we were going to travel around southern Japan), so I rushed to the immigration office, and an hour later I had an extra year of Japan in the pocket. And, also not unimportant: finally a somewhat normal visa, because with such a six-month thingy, most companies can do exactly nothing. Time to switch to a real phone provider.
Hello, greetings from the saddest spot in the local Starbucks. In the back of the store, with no windows, in a corner. A one person table against the wall. I’m sitting here with my laptop because I wanted a change of scenery. A moment of no distraction from all the stuff around me, so I can write this blog in peace. At least, as long as the battery of this laptop lasts.
Hello, from a hotel room overlooking the train station of a rainy Hakodate. Hakodate is the southernmost tip of northern Japan, the island of Hokkaido. On Friday I flew to Sapporo, the capital of this prefecture. This is where the Pokémon GO Fest was held last weekend: a live event organized by Niantic, the makers of Pokémon GO. I saw the announcement in the app and thought, “Hey, I can just go to this!”
“Oh yes, and I need you to do one more thing…” Mikako, my bank account, visa and tax contact, walked me through the to-do’s for renewing my visa. “You have to take pictures of your office. From the entrance to the elevator, the front door, and then of course inside. It is important that there is a nameplate on your door. It’s even more important that it not only says Toeps Media, but also 株式会社.”
You know that feeling? When you want to clean out a closet, pull everything out, and then completely overwhelmed by the incredible mess you want to stuff everything back in? That’s what my life feels like right now. Everything is upside down. And everything is intertwined, like a big jumble of plugs, printer cables and mini-USB, somewhere in an Ikea box.
It has been over a month since I wrote anything here. My head is full, and even when I talk to my friends it gets in the way. Then I want to tell them everything, immediately, and then the conversation turns into one big monologue about bank accounts, tatami mats and bats, and that’s not very nice of course. Or well. Not very reciprocal. That’s why this is a good old blog; one-way traffic, information dump style. Maybe you have already seen bits and pieces on Instagram (really, that medium still keeps me somewhat sane), but here it is, neatly and with context: Toeps in Japan, the recap.
In my previous blog I promised to tell you more about the trip, but I’ve been here for about three weeks, so the trip can be summarized as: I got on the plane in Korea, got off two hours later in Japan,went through all the procedures at Narita and was allowed to take the train home. There I had to quarantine for another three days, after which I was allowed to leave early after a local PCR test.
I like to be well prepared. And well informed. For months I’ve been following the Facebook group “Seeking entry in Japan” closely, because I can tell you, sometimes the best info has actually been on Facebook.
I owe you an update. “How is Korea?” you keep asking me. I couldn’t answer it because that wouldn’t be fair. Korea cannot do well, and that is not because of Korea, but only because it is not Japan.