Please do not assume that I have not seriously considered the pressures, strains and joys of working as a designer in Japan.
I am a Westerner. I will always have Western thoughts and opinions. You may consider this to be a plus or minus for working as a designer in Japan. I like to consider it a plus. Maybe I'm being naive.
I never claimed to be fluent in Japanese. I have a long, long way to go yet. I never claimed I understood the Japanese way of thinking. I may not be able to confidently write catch copy in Japanese, but I can still design. That said, I can sometimes understand the cleverness of catch copy, so this is all good training for the future. The more I expose myself to Japanese design, the more I will learn. Being able to expose myself to Japanese design in England is virtually nil.
In order to learn a language you must also learn the culture. I am learning. I never claimed my learning was over. I never claimed I knew everything. I will never know 'everything'.
If me and a Japanese person of the same age, same experience, same knowledge and same portfolio went for an interview, the Japanese person would win hands down. I would not even be considered. If I get employed in Japan it will not be for my level of Japanese. It will be because I am a good designer, or because the company wants to 'look' international, or wants a 'western' feel to their designs. If they want a Japanese speaker, they'll employ a Japanese person. I met a lot of foreign designers in Japan who say the same thing, this is not just my thinking. My friend speaks perfect Japanese and has been living in Japan for over 20 years. But he struggles to gain Japanese language design work because he is American. If Japanese people want Japanese language design, they go to a Japanese design company. If they want English language design they go to a Western design company. Its cruel and may upset some people, but, for the majority, it is true. Maybe this is why I hate Japan so much. Maybe this is why I respect Japan so much.
The companies I met in Japan know my level of Japanese. I have been honest with them and they have been to me. I have too many fears and anxieties about working in Japan. I know it will be hard, stressful and I may not succeed. I may not even get the chance to see if I can succeed. But it is something I want to try. I may hate working in Japan. I may like it. But I won't give up until I have tried.
What I want to achieve and what I actually achieve may not always be the same. But I'm trying my damn hardest to be the best Japanese speaker I can be at this time.
This may come as a bolt out of the blue, but it is not.
Someone just pushed me over the edge.