Pursuing the Japanese dream

Pursuing the Japanese dream
Photo from Henydee Joy Lao/Facbook

Chasing her dream of stepping foot in the Land of the Rising Sun, Japan has been an arduous journey for 23-year-old Henydee Joy Lao.

Introduced to anime during a challenging period in her childhood, Henydee's passion intensified when a network began broadcasting anime series. 

Amidst her parents' separation, anime became a source of solace, evoking emotions she hadn't experienced before.

“Over the years, as I immersed myself in anime and Japanese music, I gradually learned about Japanese language and culture. My addiction led me to conduct research, discerning what aspects of anime were accurate and applicable in reality versus fiction,” she shared.

The COVID-19 pandemic granted her ample free time, leading her to venture into voice acting on TikTok, where she attracted a considerable following. 

Engaging with her followers, she discovered her unexplored interest in cosplay. 

Eagerly embracing the opportunity at post-pandemic anime conventions in Davao, she tried cosplay for the first time.

Henydee has always dreamed of immersing herself in Japan's rich, motivated by the prospect of exploring its lively cities, savoring authentic cuisine, and delving into its exquisite traditions. 

Her inner "weeb" (anime enthusiast) drives her to visit locations where anime scenes have unfolded.

With unwavering determination, Henydee enrolled in a Japanese school, dedicating herself to mastering the language and immersing herself in Japanese culture. 

Balancing language learning with the responsibilities of being the eldest proved challenging, but she pressed on.

“I started studying Japanese on my own when I was still a senior high student. It was difficult because I tend to easily forget the Japanese characters and the way I speak because I didn't have any circle of friends at that time who were as driven as I am in learning Japanese, so I didn't have any chance to practice that much and someone I can discuss aside from my cousin. That's why I decided to go to a Japanese school,” she added.

While pursuing a field seemingly distant from her college major, Henydee feared disappointing her family. 

However, their unwavering support, acknowledging her genuine passion for a Japanese career, alleviated her concerns.

To her surprise, her family has been supportive from day one. Despite facing hurdles, she successfully passed the JLPT N5 in Davao and the JNAT N4 in Manila, crucial steps toward working in Japan. 

With an employer in Japan assisting with paperwork, she anticipates her arrival by March 2024.

She continued, “The time and energy I've invested in understanding the customs, traditions, and language of Japan have not only deepened my appreciation for the country but also made me feel more prepared for my upcoming journey. It's gratifying to see that the more I learn, the closer I get to realizing my dream of exploring the land of the rising sun.” 

Having passed the challenging JNAT N4 exam within just one month of preparation, Henydee's daily routine involved rigorous study sessions from 6 a.m. to midnight. Her hard work paid off as she received the results two weeks after the exam – she had passed!

Ganbatte (Do your best) and live your dreams in Japan, Henydee! AJA


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