It Came Upon a Japanese Dream

by Joshua Meade
(Osaka, Japan)

My life was really terrible when I was a kid. My parents divorced young, leaving me bouncing back and forth between them. I had step-parents who beat and abused me as well as my other siblings. For example one step-mother would burn us with her cigarettes and make us take baths in her dirty bath water. Another step-father slammed our heads into walls and beat us for small things.


I saw blatant drug use, prostitution, violence of every sort, and came into contact with ever low-life character you can imagine from drug dealers to murders. We were constantly surrounded by thieves, liars, and cruel people. It was a tough childhood but it made me accept that when things are tough, you have to be tougher and persistent so that you can grow and learn what not to do in life and use what you see to better yourself.

Needless-to-say my life was destined to be another low class cyclic tragedy. Then like magic, it all changed for the better. I was able to move out of that environment into a safe, loving home that my grandmother provided. My grandmother had come to our house for a visit unannounced and she found us home alone with no food, trash everywhere and no one to supervise or watch us. So she took us with her to her home and there we remained for several years.

It was in those times that my life changed dramatically. I had schedules, order, and supervision. My grandmother provided me with the necessities to overcome the challenges that had been put in place in my life. So I stuck to sports and studies and was able to go to university. I majored in Sociology partly because I wanted to be a social worker but also because I was innately interested in the relationships, jobs and lives of people. And then I wound up taking Japanese by chance because it was something so far out of the realm of what I was exposed to. Little did I know but that one decision to try something out of the box would lead to even bigger changes in my life.

Upon finishing my Japanese class, the teacher took me aside and asked if I would be interested moving to Japan. She said she knew a program that would get me to Japan and I jumped at the chance. The program was for teachers who want to move to Japan and teach English and culture to students in public schools. The pay and benefits were decent and it afforded me the opportunity to study Japanese, move to a foreign country and interact with all sorts of people from a variety of backgrounds.

So now I am living in Japan, married to a Japanese woman and have a perfectly normal, safe, and happy life. This all came about because of a few critical changes and one super loving grandmother. You never know what sort of ticket you are going to pull out of the life choice hat but each pull injects chances and changes. You just have to aim high and wait for your turn to pull a winner.

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