[Serious] Should I leave Japan?

NOTE: This is a bit of a rant as I'm really trying to get my head together to figure out what to do next. Skip to the summary if you want the cliffs.

I am a male in my early 20's and moved to Tokyo over a year ago and I'm in a difficult place at the moment. Prior to moving here I was a programmer in the US. I had just finished a stint at a web development position that honestly I didn't like too much because I didn't have much in common with my coworkers. Everyone was very nice but they were married guys with children while I was just a few years removed from college. I liked the work but I was very bored with the environment. I was also bored with my home, I lived in the same place basically my entire life and I had the same group of friends since HS and my life wasn't really progressing (I hadn't dated any girls since college 3 years ago and my social life felt very stagnated). I thought it would be really exciting to go to Japan and try to kickstart things and take it as a learning opportunity and develop personally/socially/professionally. I thought as a foreigner maybe I would have some advantage in moving up professionally as well in tech here. I really kicked up my applications towards Japan because I've been interested in trying to live here since college. After awhile I got a job offer and took the opportunity to move to Tokyo.

Basically after being here for 3 months I became very depressed because I was having trouble making friends. I attended a meetup event at least every week but while I was making aquaintances I wasn't making any real friends. I had real issues at work too since the work was very different from what I expected. Long story short I became extremely disinterested in work. I can't speak Japanese and while it has compounded things, it hasn't even been the main problem as most of the people I meet at meetups/work aren't Japanese.

I'm absolutely depressed, but I'm not clinically depressed because I know this is due to my situation. I just want to make clear I am not in any way suicidal or having extremely negative thoughts, if I was I would have already seen a professional. However, my self-esteem has taken a huge hit from difficulties in adjusting to work/life. This is my first time living truly alone (no roommates) and first time living anywhere but home so I think that's worth noting in why I've had such difficulties with life. I'm still excited by many things in Japan and I love exploring this beautiful country but there are just so many cons to living here for me that I'm not sure it's worth the few times I actually get to use my vacation/explore on weekends. Even when I go out it's mostly alone if I don't have family/friends visiting Japan and it's really draining.

I am so drained emotionally from work and anxiety of falling behind that it's affected my social life outside of work. I feel depressed due to my situation and it's at the point where some weekends I basically don't leave my house due to exhaustion (also it's the only time I can talk to my friends back home). I don't have any friends in Japan and most of the week I don't have anyone to talk to which is absolutely killing me. The only outlet I have is Saturday/Sunday when I can talk to and play online games with my group of friends back home and also call my family. I feel fortunate I have a network back home to help me through this time. I'm already mentioning going back and I'm excited honestly to go home again. I see things completely different now in that I'm lucky to have friends and family back home in the US.


I really like Japan as a place to live/explore and I feel its too early to pack it up and go home after 1 year. However my work/social life are really in a hole at the moment. I no longer plan to stay here long term (as in raise a family) since there seems to be so many cons:


  • I'll be honest, Japanese girls are my type and the dating pool back home (depsite living in a major metro) is a wasteland compared to Tokyo. I've never seen so many attractive women anywhere else.

  • Japan is just an amazing place to tour and travel around compared to back home. It's clean, safe and its attractions and scenery are just more interesting to me than anywhere else.

  • (I had other pros before I moved such as potential to move up faster in the career ladder and potential to really integrate into this culture but I think that those are false now after staying here for a year)


  • Dating has been tough here due to the aforementioned lack of social life and lack of confidence in general.

  • I took a 50% paycut to come here, sitting around 5M right now. I think long term maybe its possible to get back to 10M but I have no idea. Even if I could, in the US you are looking at a huge increase in long term saving power.

  • I don't think my long term prospects are that good professionally due to not knowing Japanese language/culture. Back home I know that language/culture and I feel I could move up as the tech job market is vast.

  • Socially its been hard just making real friends with other foreigners and even if I did, that just isn't healthy only living in a foreigner bubble. I want to learn Japanese and make Japanese friends after all but the Japanese language is a big hurdle.

  • I can't communicate in Japanese. I know this is my fault for not learning before moving here but being real, I felt this was one of my last chances to try a move abroad like this without having other responsibilities in life which make it far more difficult.

  • Being a visible foreigner forever

  • I can help my potential kids deal with problems in school/life much easier in the US because I've been through all that. I think their long term prospects will be much better in the US than here. In Japan I would be clueless to help them navigate the potential problems they would face as non 100% Japanese in this society.

I have a couple months to decide but basically I need to decide to either:

  • Pack it up and go back home then get my head together and look for another job there.

  • Try to find another job/position and see if things turn around in Japan.

  • Stay in current position until I find a job back home since I've hard its much harder to find a job when you are unemployed. However I think for my situation there would be some leeway as I moved to Japan.

Basically I'm looking for advice on how to either improve my situation or on whether it just makes too much sense to go back home to even bother since I am quite sure I won't stay long term regardless. Yes I know this is /r/japanlife so feel free to poke fun at my situation for coming here without knowing the language/taking a huge paycut/etc for the "culture". I've seen enough of these threads to know some fellow subredditors were already brandishing their keyboards at the moment they saw the title. I think there are worse mistakes to make and worse reasons to try living somewhere and I don't regret coming here one bit. I'm just trying to make the best decision for the future and I would like to lean on the collective experience of others here who have maybe been in this situation or can relate.

submitted by /u/japanlifethrowaway17
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