Written by: Kamal Zharif Bin Kamaludin

I’ve been in Japan since 2014 and living in Japan for a total of 8 years. What makes me come to this country? Let me share with you my story.

It Starts From Homestay Program

When I was still a schooler in 2004, one of my teachers asked me “Kamal, would you want to go to Japan?”, I quickly answered, “Yes, I would love to”. Then I joined an overseas homestay program organized by Hippo Family Club that connected me to my homestay family in Nagoya and lived there for 9 days.

My homestay mother picked me in the airport.

My homestay mother made me a lot of delicious Japanese foods. I especially love the udon! That time was my first time eating sushi. I think most Southeast Asian people do not really good at having uncooked dishes, but at that time I think I was okay having sushi.

Enjoying my homestay mother-made Japanese home foods. Sorry, it is a bit blurry.

Even though I only stayed for 9 days, I truly fall in love with Japan.

Came Back to Malaysia and Lived My Life

After coming back from Japan, I lived my life as it is without any thought about Japan. Especially when then I continued my study at university, reaching higher grades was the only thing in my mind.

A thought to experience working abroad just popped up in my mind in the last year of my university life. I got a job in Shanghai, China which allowed me to save some money to travel to Japan and met with my homestay mother, right 7 years after my homestay.

After that, I can’t help to get Japan out of my mind. I traveled to Japan a few times before 2014 and started to think if I can live there.

My Turning Point of Life in Japan

In 2014, I joined a Japanese Language School located close to Disneyland. This is the turning point of my life.

I learned Japanese at that school (with self-pay) for approximately 1,5 years while doing a part-time job as a tour coordinator After graduation, I continue to work as a tour coordinator in a travel company that allows me to bring customers to explore Japan, from the golden route (Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto) to countrysides such as Hokkaido, Tohoku, and more.

Since I am Malaysian, mostly I handle tourists from Malaysia. The most unforgettable experience I had is when I was chosen to guide and assist the royal family of Johor Sultanate!

Some shots when assisting the royal family of Johor Sultanate.

Met with Tunku Abdul Rahman on Blancpain GT World Asia Challenge

Besides tour guide, I also do a job as a talent that brings me to appear and act in front of the camera. So far, I’ve been in some cuts of Japanese drama, film, and commercials, such as the famous Japanese TV Drama “Anata No Ban Desu あなたの番です” and TV Commercial Nissin Cup Noodle together with the famous Japanese boy group EXILE.

In TV Drama “Anata no Ban Desu”

Appear in A TV Commercial Nissin Cup Noodle with EXILE

Appear in a TV Internet commercial

I also actively write which I started 8 years ago which leads me to publish a book with the title “I’m A Backpacker: Japan”. You can get the book at Kinokuniya Malaysia. I’m thinking to author another book, insya Allah.

If you read all from above, you might think “happy go lucky” and I got everything I want. However, actually, I faced a lot of struggles, and believe me, my journey is still far away and is left behind by other people.

Actually, I Have To Get Over Of Myself

Frankly speaking, I am autistic and diagnosed with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) in 2017. The diagnosis was late though because I myself recognized and consulted to doctor. How did I find them by myself? Please continue reading, maybe it can help someone you know.

Before the diagnosis in 2017, actually I felt something different about myself. When I was still in a low grade of school, nobody, even myself, didn’t recognize any sign of ADHD or autism, but then I faced a lot of difficult symptoms afterward, even when I was in the university.

I was thinking that maybe I have dyslexia. The doctor I consulted with said I have none and stop the consultation there. But unfortunately, the symptoms get stronger as people have images of me as someone who is lazy, can’t focus or make any improvement, is stupid, make the same mistakes even doing the same job for years, and so on.

I found myself an underachiever.

A few months before the diagnosis in 2017, I saw the term ADHD on the internet which attracts my attention and I read some articles about it. They said that ADHD symptoms don’t appear much during childhood and get more clear when getting older as we need to solve more difficult things in life.

Besides English, I also read Japanese articles about ADHD after seeing a commercial about it. There is a checklist to do self-check as a reference whether we need to check with a doctor or not. My result says that I might need to check with the doctor which then diagnosed ADHD with 7 main symptoms.

・Cannot focus or give special attention to something detail and careless when doing something (difficult to do something accurately, etc).
・Difficult to keep the focus on one thing, task, or activity.
・Difficult to follow one instruction to another and difficult to complete something accurately (very easy to be unfocused).
・Difficult to make something in order or do something sequential. It makes people think of me as a person who is unmanaged.
・Tendency to avoid or dislike something that needs brain work to finish, such as making a report, making a long review, etc.
・Always distracted by external stimuli such as irrelevant thoughts.
・Always forget in performing daily activities.

In terms of autistic, I am categorized as mild autism (High Functioning Autism) which answers all problems I faced, such as problems in socializing with friends and colleagues. If the average person can think and find a solution in just a second or two, I have to get my mind and soul to think as a whole day to identify what is wrong. It says that people with HFA have their own challenges in finding a mate, as well as only 20%, are able to maintain the marriage, according to articles I read.

Those who have been talking with me maybe recognize something different, like my intonation or a second when I lose focus on the conversation. One of my colleagues has ever told me about my daily, “when you are working, your brain seems like suddenly cause a short circuit, it’s like suddenly the focus flies away for a moment”.

Even so, I don’t give up on myself and keep going!

By the way, I am a personal shopper service for Japanese goods, so anyone who does not have time to go to Japan but wants to shop for Japanese products can use this link http://bit.ly/2ZkLd8f and feel free to contact me.

See Also

“How Did I End Up In Japan?”. A Malaysian Muslimah Realized Her Dreams To Japan And Also Runs a Company!

Malaysian Muslimah Working in Japan ; “Effort Won’t Betray You”

The Experience of Japanese Muslimah Fasting in Japan and Malaysia