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Working from Japan

I'll be in Tokyo most of July and August having a mini-life. Let me know if you're around and want to meet up!


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I've wanted to have a mini-life for a long time, but for one thing or another I've been postponing it. Don't worry though, this site won't become a travel blog; it's just that sometimes I find it interesting to talk about other things I'm doing.

Even though I've been working remotely for years now, this will be the first time I'll be doing it from a different country. To be honest, the nomad life is not appealing to me, but I do like traveling and experiencing other cultures. This should be a good way to take advantage of the situation.

There are many countries I could have chosen to start, but Japan had to be the first (I'm sure you already noticed how much I like japanese culture). I already went some years ago for holidays, but it felt short and I was mostly moving around. This time, I hope to experience more of the daily life and connect with some local communities (although I'll also be on holidays for the second half of my trip).

On that note, if you know of any meetups or some place I should visit let me know! I'll be looking for programming or entrepreneurship communities, but I guess if I can't find any I can always try some language exchange.

Today I'm finishing the work portion of my stay in the land of the samurai, and so far it's been a great experience. So great, in fact, that I'm starting to question whether I should be doing this more often rather than plain holidays. More on that later.

First of all, work itself went well. The time difference was noticeable (+7 hours from Spain), but I was already used to working in a semi-asynchronous fashion; so that hasn't been much of a problem. The only relevant difference is that I had to cram all the real-time interactions into a couple of hours, and skip some meetings. Otherwise, it has been pretty much work as usual. I've been renting a room through Airbnb, and I haven't had any issues with the Internet connection or any of the facilities. Even though I was worried about working in a "shared workspace" (I don't like working in coffee shops), it was pretty good overall. And I could retire to my room for some private work time and video calls.

I also tried to connect with local communities, but I wasn't so successful at that. I attended a couple of meetups: one about startups, and one about language exchange. They were fun, but honestly, a bit lackluster. There weren't many attendees, around 10 people each (although I'm probably spoiled because meetups in Barcelona are huge). I also struggled to find topics of interest, as you can tell by the second meetup. But most importantly, I did not meet many locals. Most of the people attending were from other countries, and even though some of them were currently living in Japan, it was rare that anyone had been here more than a couple of years. Which again, shouldn't surprise me given that I didn't attend any meetups in Japanese (although, again, I have to say in Barcelona I've attended many "English speaking" meetups with local attendees, such as myself). In any case, they were fun and I'm glad I attended, but there is certainly a lot more I'd like to explore about the local scene. Maybe next time!

Ironically, I've been "commuting" more often than usual. Not to go to work, but I've been traveling in weekends and some weekdays. Which has given me the chance to finally read Weaving The Web. Something I've noticed being here is that I have a lot more time affluence. It's funny, because it's not like I have a lot more responsibilities back home. But the fact that I've been letting my schedule open meant that I have been doing things in the spur of the moment (believe it or not, I've even been bored at times 😱️). Maybe one takeaway from this is that I should reconsider my tendency to have a daily routine and make use of timeboxing so much.

Finally, I don't want to get much into life stuff, but I'll share a couple of things. I'm not vegetarian, but I try to reduce my consumption of animal protein. Well, that has been near impossible here :/. I haven't been eating out often, but even going to the supermarket, vegetable sources of protein are almost non existent. In Spain, I rely heavily on legumes (chickpeas, lentils, beans, etc.), but here the only viable option is tofu. Sure, you have a wide selection of tofu; but honestly all taste the same to me. And given that I enjoy cooking, it wasn't great to always use the same ingredient. Vegetables and fruits are very good though, but something else I found distracting is the heavy use of plastics. I'm not zero-waste either, but I have reduced my use of single-use plastics considerably. And that has also been a challenge in Japan. In fact, it's a lot worse than in Spain because they'll often do things like selling an individual banana inside of a plastic bag :/. To be fair though, it wasn't immediately obvious how to reduce my plastic consumption in Spain; and eventually I achieved it because I don't go to the supermarket anymore. But here in Japan, I haven't been able to avoid it as much. Other than those, life is good :). I've been able to do mostly everything I would do in my daily life back in Spain, and even though I haven't signed up for a gym, I've managed to do some exercise around the neighbourhood (I brought some elastic bands that came in handy).

Now, is having mini-lives better than holidays? Honestly, what I'm enjoying from the experience has nothing to do with work itself. I could be doing the same thing on holidays, but it seems like my lifestyle when I'm in "holiday mode" basically means visiting things every day (usually tourist attractions), and not staying more than a couple of days in the same city. Which in a way is understandable, because I want to maximize the little time I have in another country to experience as much as possible. But I've found that mini-lives allow to take things more slowly, and seep into the culture. It also reduces my consumerism tendencies, which I despise but often fall prey to. So I think I'll be doing this again. Although it's definitely not a wise financial decision; we'll see!

I said this wouldn't become a travel blog, but I'd be remiss if I didn't at least mention some of the highlights:

Tomorrow I'm starting my holidays, so don't expect much for the next update. But I'll leave this open in case I find something interesting to share.

Hey, I'm back in Barcelona.

I don't have as much to say this time, but I want to mention the contrast with the first part of my trip. As I anticipated, the last 3 weeks were quite hectic. Which is not to say they weren't fun, but I think it's ironic that I felt more time affluence whilst working than on holidays 😅️.

To be fair though, I did visit and experience a lot more things in these 3 weeks; but honestly I'm not sure that means it was better. Specially the last week, which I spent entirely in Tokyo and the days were a bit repetitive. Still, I love Japan, so even that last week was great and I'll miss it.

However, even coming to this realization, I'm not sure if I'll change my habits. In part because it's not just my decision to make (I wasn't traveling alone on this second phase). But also because I'm not sure there is a workaround to "taking things slowly" without resulting in huge economical detriment. Or radically changing my lifestyle. With that I don't mean that I was living a lavish life in Japan; the main finantial issue with prolonging "mini-lives" is that I still have a life to maintain back at home. So I'm essentially paying rent twice (which is a huge privilege to be able to do). And I don't see how to fix that without going full nomad. For now, short mini-lives will have to do.

This time I won't leave you with a list of highlights; instead I'll link to this list of tips I wrote and leave you with some pictures:

Observation deck
This is an observation deck I often visited to do some exercise :D.
Sendai Daikannon
The Sendai Daikannon, a 92m statue.
Ramen Shrine
Ramen Shrine in Kitakata.
Jump Shop
Luffy statue in Jump Shop.
Shinjuku Cat
3D cat in Shinjuku.
Cats of Tashirojima, cat island.
Tashirojima 2
More cats of Tashirojima (ok, I'll stop with the cats).
Weekly Shonen Jump No. 30, 1990
Weekly Shonen Jump Number 30 from 1990, released on the week I was born. It's crazy that I could buy it for just 400¥ (~3€) 🤯️.

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