Here’s how I dealt with homesickness and loneliness in Japan

Living abroad, it’s like traversing a rollercoaster of emotions, and loneliness and homesickness often make up the sharp dips. Speaking from the depths of my journey, about a month into my temporary stay in Japan, those waves hit me. It wasn’t just a longing for local delicacies: it was an ache for the familial bonds and the mundane yet cherished moments of my life back home. Japan, once a beacon of opportunity, suddenly felt like a barren landscape, devoid of the warmth I craved. Even my husband, my anchor in this foreign land, felt like a distant adversary, adding to the weight of my sadness. Countless nights were spent drowning in tears, feeling like a captive without an escape. Hope seemed like a distant dream, an elusive whisper in the wind. But thankfully, the story didn’t end there.

With this context in mind, I’m eager to share how I tackled homesickness during my time in Japan and the strategies that helped me overcome this emotional hurdle

1. Going for a walk

Japan’s abundant natural beauty offers solace even in the heart of the city. Whether it’s a garden, park, or a quiet spot by the river, a leisurely stroll can work wonders for the soul. Personally, living near Sakura trees by the river has been a blessing, especially during moments of homesickness. Taking breaks during walks to appreciate nature’s charm is truly invigorating. Walking isn’t just a remedy for loneliness, it’s a tonic for the spirit, lifting my mood whenever needed.

saw a sign of Spring while taking a walk

2. Getting into a new hobby

It’s so true! When we’re idle, those pesky negative thoughts can creep in like unwelcome guests. I’ve been there too, starting the day on a high note only to spend it lounging on the sofa, spiraling into a whirlwind of overthinking about past mistakes and everything else. It’s a downward spiral that’s tough to break. That’s why keeping busy is key. For me, diving into a hobby was a game-changer. Thankfully, my husband nudged me towards golf. It took some time, but eventually, swinging those clubs became my saving grace, helping me shake off those negative vibes one swing at a time.

golf day

3. Reading and falling in love with books

Isn’t it amazing how sometimes we don’t realize the power of something until it hits us out of the blue? I mean, I’ve always enjoyed reading, but it wasn’t until a couple of years ago when I stumbled upon this one book that everything changed. They say you have to find the perfect book for you, one that really speaks to your soul, and that’s exactly what happened. It was like a light bulb moment, and suddenly, I couldn’t get enough of books! Now, whenever I pass by a bookstore or see anything with reading materials, I can’t help but stop and check it out. It’s like spotting long-lost friends! There’s just this magical feeling when I’m surrounded by books, like they’re there to save and comfort me. They’ve been my lifeline during those lonely moments in Japan, and I couldn’t be more grateful.

reading a book on the beach

4. Going on trips, on an adventure

A change of scenery is essential, and it doesn’t have to involve traveling abroad. Even a short trip to a nearby prefecture, just a car or train ride away, can do wonders. And there are plenty of small adventures to be had, like camping, beach walks, and trekking. Most of the time, if I find somewhere I’d like to explore, I ask my husband, and thankfully, he’s always up for it, except for camping because of mosquitoes. But he’s willing to compromise because he knows how much I cherish nature and adventure. Train rides, car rides, immersing myself in nature—these activities are truly therapeutic for me.

Kumamoto adventure

5. Being self-reliant

Becoming more self-reliant has been one of my greatest achievements. While I still lean on my husband for various things, like managing finances and handling legal documents, I’ve taken the initiative to learn essential skills, such as navigating the transportation system and managing groceries. These may seem trivial to some, but mastering them has been incredibly fulfilling. It’s helped diminish my self-doubt and alleviate some of the loneliness that comes with living in a foreign country. There’s a sense of empowerment that comes from having control over these aspects of daily life.

empowered woman

6. Embarking on solo adventures

Building on the idea of self-reliance, I decided to take it a step further by embracing solo adventures and travels. Initially, when my husband had to go on business trips and I found myself alone in our apartment, it was quite lonely. With no kids or pets to keep me company, I felt the solitude deeply. However, I saw this as an opportunity to venture out on my own. Starting with small outings and gradually transitioning to solo adventures, I began exploring nearby areas. Despite not having a bicycle due to safety concerns, I didn’t let that stop me from seeking out new experiences. I remember one memorable solo walk where I intentionally got lost, relishing the thrill it brought. Then came the bigger adventures, like traveling back to my home country alone and even attending Taylor Swift’s concert in Tokyo solo. Navigating the transportation system and spending eight hours on the journey all by myself felt incredibly empowering. It was a defining moment for me, proving that I was capable of navigating the world on my own terms.

solo travel to Tokyo

7. Embracing self-love to the fullest

Last but certainly not least, I’ve learned to respect and love myself in a way I never had before. It’s been a journey of truly embracing self-love by letting go of the past, focusing on the positive, and resisting the urge to engage in negativity on social media. I’ve made a conscious effort to forgive those who’ve hurt me, but I’ve also come to terms with the fact that forgiveness isn’t always necessary, especially when it’s not sought. Despite this, I hold no grudges and harbor no ill will towards them. Self-love, I’ve discovered, is the core of how I’ve dealt with homesickness and loneliness, slowly but surely. Every step I’ve taken to combat these feelings has been an act of self-respect and self-care. I’ve chosen to prioritize my well-being and happiness above all else, refusing to let loneliness consume me. It’s all about showing myself the love and respect I truly deserve.

lovin’ myself, it shows through my smile

I’m not suggesting that I’ve completely overcome homesickness or loneliness: they still creep in from time to time. However, I’ve found ways to cope with them when they do arise. Thanks to self-love!

P.S. I also romanticize my life.

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