My name is Bethany Nakamura.
I’m an ex-designer turned J-YouTuber and small business owner.
In October of 2021, I moved from the US to Ehime prefecture in Shikoku; the Japanese Countryside. About one year later, I posted my first YouTube video about my experiences here. All of a sudden, I realized I had found thousands of people like me. People who want to pursue meaning, beauty, and culture. People who love Japan and want to (or have!) found their way here.
As I’ve been seemingly bouncing around and learning many things the hard way here, I wanted to share my findings and insights. Moving here can be ROUGH. I want to help ease the transition for those moving here by sharing my experiences and resources. People have found something they were searching for in my YouTube channel, but I’ll be keeping my channel for sharing some of my more personal stories.
In this website, I’m hoping to creating a place for people to gather and share some of the practicalities of moving to and living in the Japan. Every year, thousands of foreign English-speakers move to Japan. Home stuff is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the challenges. So I want to share what I’ve learned to help those who will experience the same things.
While I had always wanted to become an interior designer as a kid, I very quickly realized there was a misalignment between what how I wanted to design and where there was market demand. While I had visions of radically sustainable design centering around things like community gardens and public transportation, I found myself responding to desires for image and luxury.
Dropping out of college mid-degree during the US economic down-turn in 2010, I found myself biking between four-part time jobs, still not able to crest the poverty level. Due to my lack of college degree, I was repeatedly turned down from full-time positions that offered healthcare and a livable salary, so I decided that I should finish a four-year degree. So finish interior design school, I did.
I never really “fit in” to the interior design scene – I wore metallic oxfords in a land of high-heels. But perhaps it was this spirit that helped me stand out, securing one of the most coveted entry-level design firm positions before I even reached my final year.
During my professional tenure, I was able to pursue many meaningful projects and specializations. I lead design for schools for kids on the autism spectrum – requiring both evidence-based research and a solid foot in empathy. I designed offices, libraries, hospitals and cultural centers, and was also able to work on some textile surface design collaborations, brand design, environmental graphic design, and experiential strategy. I was a cherished member of marketing pursuits for my impassioned storytelling and colorful approach. I once submitted an expense receipt for six neon fanny packs and 600 bouncy balls.
Despite the freedom my bosses gave me (sometimes reluctantly), I felt stifled. It was burn-out, covid lock-down, and social uprising that pushed me past my limit. There were too many ways my corporate lifestyle was misaligned with my values and spirit. I couldn’t do corporate life any longer, and there was no going back.
I had spent so much time doing what other people wanted me to do, following their career advice and having it lead to ill-suited places, I needed to get back in touch with myself. I thought about kid Bethany, remembering her love of Totoro and Sailor Moon and her dream to live in Japan. I thought I was going to just spend a year or two in Japan, trying to live a life kid me would be proud of, but life continued to carry me places here in Japan.
Understanding the challenges of moving to and making a home-base in Japan, I’m determined to use my insight and design skills to help out other international people who have found their way here, too. All the lost toys, whether you are here for a year or here to stay.
Between art, design and J-lifestyle, I’ve had the pleasure of being featured in many fun places.
Ehime Prefecture is located on Shikoku island in Japan. While Shikoku is rarely visited by Japanese people from other islands, Ehime is known for its mikan (mandarin orange) agricultural industry. With attractions like Matsuyama Castle, Dogo Onsen, and Uwajima Castle. Dogo Onsen is credited as the inspiration for the bathhouse in the Ghibli movie, Spirited Away. Ehime Prefecture offers a rich blend of natural beauty and whimsical cultural heritage.
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