Uraga, Yokosuka, Summer Festival

My friends in Japan often ask me why I don’t write in my first language.

The simple reason is that English allows me to express myself more freely and authentically. Then they ask me, “It’s harder to write in your second language, isn’t it?” Technically, it should be. However, a language is a culture and when I write in Japanese, I’m well aware of the cultural norms and expectations behind the words I’m using. For example, communication tends to be more subtle and nuanced, with an expectation of agreeableness in Japan and that doesn’t come naturally to me. There are so many more unwritten rules/norms/expectations I struggled with – as much as I’d like to let them go, I find myself unable to completely free myself from the feeling of constraint.

Writing in an adopted language is a powerful reminder that I’m constantly growing and that I’m free to create my own path. That’s liberating. That fuels my writing energy. It’s a little difficult to explain, however.

Being understood is nice, but it’s a bonus. I accept being an eccentric and appreciate them embracing me as their oddball friend.