Day 63 - Yasu (1st person I approached)
March 04, 2014 - Another day of breaking my own self-imposed rules, and extremely glad I did (again). Yasu was playing a video game when I walked right past him. I turned around, and broke his concentration. I was very happy when he immediately said yes to speaking with me.
Yasu was born in Tokyo, Japan. He is the youngest of three children, with an older brother and an older sister. He completed high-school in Tokyo, and then spent four years studying Psychology in University.
“I trained to become a psychologist specializing in addictions and behaviour. In Japan it is very difficult, because there is an expectation that you complete high-school, then you go to University, and then you work in the profession which you have chosen to study. After getting a degree in psychology, I knew I didn’t want to go further with that education. I feel bad for my parents who spent a lot of money on my education, but I knew it wasn’t what I wanted to do. Plus, in Tokyo, it would have meant more schooling to be come a psychologist,” Yasu told me, a bit sheepishly.
After university, Yasu went to a private school for a year, and studied web design and computer programming.
“I started working after that in programming and also became interested in creating art, through programming,” said Yasu, and then he showed me some of his work that is posted on his Instagram account (*FACT CHECK: see link below).
Yasu told me about how he decided on moving to Vancouver.
“At first I was considering Australia, but I found out it’s not hot all year long, and that they have seasons. A friend had already been living in Vancouver and when I did some research, I discovered that Toronto was probably too cold in winter. I wanted to see what the west coast lifestyle was like. So I moved here.”
That was three years ago.
When he first arrived in Vancouver, a friend suggested that he stay at a student hostel located on Main at Hastings Street, close to the Jimi Hendrix Shrine (the poorest municipality in Canada).
“I was looking for someplace that didn’t cost a lot of money. Sure the area is rough and there are a lot of drug addicts around, but with my training from university in psychology and addictions, I understand and accept that there are all kinds of people everywhere you go. Perhaps if I had first lived in Vancouver’s West end, or the Kitsilano neighbourhood, and then gone to the downtown eastside, I might have been a bit more shocked, but it suited my needs. I wasn’t afraid,” said Yasu.
Soon after arriving, Yasu saw an advertisement for a job in web design and programming, and applied. He got it. He told me,
“Maybe I should have applied for other jobs as well, but my girlfriend was waiting to join me here, from Japan, and I needed a job and to support myself.” Yasu also started an interesting art project while he was discovering different parts of the city.
“Vancouver is filled with many different people, and there are so many different cultures here, and I noticed that there were a lot of different signs for washrooms, in restaurants and every where I went. So I started a blog called ‘Washroom of the Day’ and now friends and people send me pictures of washroom signs from all over the world.” (**FACT CHECK: see link below)
Yasu’s girlfriend joined him here in Vancouver, after he had been here for just over year. They have been married for almost two years now.
“I moved out of the downtown eastside. It’s not where I wanted to have my wife living,” said Yasu. He also told me that they didn’t have a big wedding or party to celebrate getting married. "If we had a big party, it would mean inviting our friends and family from Japan, and that would be expensive. My parents have already been here, and will be visiting again. We have a friend arriving soon from Japan. She is a photographer, and so we are planning a photo shoot, and will get dressed up, to celebrate our wedding. It might be a little late for wedding pictures, but it’s better than nothing, right?” #notastranger
*Fact Check - http://instagram.com/p/e0UZxanNA_/
**Fact Check: http://washroom.ws/