September 20, 2019

Myoden, Japan, was not my first residence, but it was where I found my second home. My children and I have been here for almost a year, seeking solace and peace in its surroundings.

When I need to think about difficult decisions, I often seek out peaceful places, and Myoden has plenty of them. Tokyo's frantic trains, which mostly run underground, don't provide much in the way of scenery. However, because I live in the suburbs, I get to enjoy the scenic views every time I travel, making it a truly memorable experience.


I've always valued simplicity and specificity, avoiding abstractions. I am a firm believer in the importance of differences over comparisons. Japan isn't a utopia or a dystopia to me; it's simply the place on the planet where I've always wanted to live. It's not heaven or hell, but rather a home away from home.

However, the typical 9 to 5 routine in Japan can be extremely taxing, especially for engineers. Their work is not limited by time or place. Regrettably, they frequently have to devote a significant amount of time to commuting on crowded trains, time that could have been better spent with family or on personal development.

The Japanese workplace is rife with rules, some of which can be quite inconvenient. Many employees, in my experience, simply go through the motions. Anyone who arrives sober, appropriately dressed, and not asleep on their desk is assumed to be working. They are considered hardworking if they create spreadsheets and to-do lists.

I used to be a part of this routine, but I recently decided to change my lifestyle and work remotely. I now visit the office for meetings every two weeks, and the rest of my time is spent working at my own pace, focusing on productivity and effective communication.

Working in Japan isn't always difficult, but finding happiness at work can be difficult. Balancing happiness at work and survival in a startup environment is an even greater challenge. This year has brought about significant changes in my life.

First and foremost, I've drastically altered my working style. I've also stopped all client work, shifting my focus to developing products for startups. In addition, I've taken the time to reflect on and discover myself. It may sound cliche, but there are times in life when you must pause and reflect. If any of these changes do not go as planned, that is fine. We can't always control what happens in our lives.

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Written by Phong Tran who lives and works in Tokyo building useful things. You can follow him on Twitter

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