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March 21, 22 years ago I boarded for Japan…

Mar 22, 2023

…terrified of flying ALONE. Terrified of flying at all. Terrified to step into the unknown and sad to leave my boyfriend and family “behind”.

When the flight attendant informed us that we have technical problems and we can’t take off for a little while and 90 min later we still  haven’t taken off… I was petrified and just crying. They took great care of me in the plane, we arrived safely in Japan and the wonderful family Nakajima who organized my whole internship and my homestay, waited patiently at the airport for me.

The first night I was so incredibly, deeply, absolutely homesick, I was just crying nonstop. I really thought: Tomorrow I’ll go home right away!

But this thunderstorm of grieving and letting go of “the old life” passed and when I met Mister Yamazaki and Miss Misawa the next day who told me everything I needed to know for the start at the company AND I met my homestay-family, I was all set. Homesickness gone. Going home today, no way! Japan. I . AM. HERE.


I wanted to go to Japan since I read all the books of Federica de Cesco when I was 12 years old. She wrote a million books, always with a girl as the main character and loads of the stories happened in Japan. And now I’m here and I feel so at HOME it’s crazy.

Well, my host family helped me a lot. They were so funny, so easy and warm. On the first evening dinner was a fried crispy fish, one per person. I could eat with chopsticks but this was next level skills… my fish slipped off my plate 24 times and we laughed so much. The real good laugh. Not the judgy embarrassing one. I had the BEST time at their house for 6 months and Chieko feels to this day like a mother to me. I will see her sooooon after 6 years of not meeting, because:

WE’LL BOARD A PLANE exactly 22 years and one day after I went to Japan for the first time. 
March 22, 2023 family Sakata goes HOME after 6 years of not walking on Japanese soil. I still don’t like flying at all, but I did a lot of work on my fear of flying. It’s now “just ok to fly” because walking would just take really long. : )

I’m looking forward to hugging family and friends, to the sounds and smells, to the foooood and the colors AND to the cherry blossom trees…. If you haven’t read the love story of Mister Sakata and Miss Müller, you can do so HERE : )

If you want to see what I explore and do and eat and think and enjoy in Japan, follow me on @joyismycompass on instagram and tiktok.

It’s funny how I’m actually a true homebody and don’t enjoy going away sooo much AND I love, love, love to go HOME to my second favorite country where I arrived 22 years ago for the first time and in my heart “never left”.

Do you love traveling? Do you like foreign foods and customs and languages? Are you enjoying staying home a lot too? I think that’s the biggest gift we can give ourselves, to get to know what we like and want and enjoy more and more the older we get.

Do more of what you enjoy, less of what you hate and that ONE LIFE we’ve got, becomes better and better.

And by doing that we make this world more colorful, playful and joyful!

Lots of looove from Zurich Switzerland and soon from Tokyo, Takatsuki, Fukuyama and Fukuoka, 

PS: Note to my past self: Thank you for these scrapbook entries! I love to look at them from afar and still remember very clearly how you were panicking by leaving everything you knew for 6 months to go to your dream country and work there in this food production company. You didn’t know back then what a GREAT destiny you’ll await because of your brave decision to do this internship in Japan.

PPS: I have no idea whose telephone number that is.

PPPS: Yes, back then I always wrote the text messages into my scrapbook because the memory of the Nokia 3210 was like after 40 messages it was full? : )


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