John Shiomi, long-time Yame, Fukuoka resident from LA, found a job, over 30 friends and a wife all on the Fukuoka Now Classifieds! We had a chat with John before he moved back to the USA with his new bride Misako. Read how one man found it all online!
Tell us abit about yourself. How did you end up in Fukuoka? How long have you been here?
I’ve been in Japan almost 15 years- around 14 years 8 months. I originally came over on the JET program as an ALT. I was originally placed in Yame-city, about an hour south of Fukuoka. I was teaching at Junior High Schools for 3 years and I had a great time there. The Japanese people were wonderful, the countryside was great. After that I started my own English school in Yame, which I ran for over 10 years. And I got married last November- I found my wife through the Fukuoka Now Classifieds.
Yes! This is what we’re interested in! You posted recently on the FN classifieds, thanking the service for helping you to find a job, friends and a wife! So why don’t you tell us your story…
I do have a story to tell… it’s personal but I don’t mind…
So, I guess you can look at it in terms of personal growth. I studied psych at UCLA. I came to Japan and it was hard for me in the beginning. I knew some Japanese but I wasn’t that confident at speaking, so I was kinda lonely. I was the only ALT in my town. I made some Japanese friends, I played basketball and did other activities, but I was pretty unhappy. Although I enjoyed the ALT job, it was hard in the beginning
After a year and a half or so I met a Japanese woman and I got married to her. Honestly, I didn’t have much experience with relationships up until then- I was pretty shy and quiet for most of my life. It was my first real long-term relationship. About a year later my daughter was born- she’s 11 now. It was a really happy time for me: I was married, I had a successful English school, I had a baby girl. But things just didn’t work out after a while. I guess there was a cultural clash, a personality clash, whatever. The relationship didn’t work out, and eventually we got divorced. So that was obviously a very hard time for me. It was probably the hardest time of my life- especially not being able to see my daughter regularly.
I had a few relationships after the divorce- one of which lasted four years. It was good, it was nice, but something was missing. After that I got together with another woman. We were together for two years, and there was a deeper connection. But she was religious, and I’m not religious, so there was a bit of a conflict there. That ended up breaking up too.
So I found myself divorced, and after a few failed relationships I was starting over again. I was 38 (now I’m 40) and I felt like “Not this again. What am I going to do?”. Especially living in Yame- a small town of only 40,000 people- there weren’t many choices for me there. So I shifted my focus to meeting people in the city.
At that point I’m not sure exactly how I found the Fukuoka Now website. I knew about the magazine, but hadn’t seen the website before. I found the Classifieds section and placed a few ads, maybe three or four. In the beginning I was just looking for friends, looking for people interested in the things I’m interested in. I came out to the city to meet people who replied to the ads, which was very interesting. I met women, but I also met men, Japanese people, foreigners living in the city and so on. It was interesting. I grew to enjoy meeting new people and coming to the city. It was rather expensive coming up so often but I was at the point where I just decided– “I’m gonna meet the right person. I’m gonna meet her, get married and have a family.” That was the most important thing to me. And I found my personality changed for a bit, I became more sociable, more open. I would go to every single social event, every party, every BBQ and Fukuoka Now events- I must have been coming to the city five times a week for a good five to six months at least. I also noticed that a lot of women are looking for friends or boyfriends on the Fukuoka Now Classifieds, so I started replying to those ads too. I must have met 10-15 different women, but they weren’t my type at all. I was about to give up. But I told myself “It’s something. Its better than doing nothing.” So I kept answering the ads and meeting people.
I was about to give up when I met up with Misako- who is now my wife. We began mailing each other and I got a really good feeling from her because she was very prompt in her reply, very considerate and answered all my questions. Just from the mail correspondence I thought “This is a really good person”. She was someone I wanted to meet.
After a week of mailing we met at Starbucks in Tenjin. She was a fun person to be with! After that we had a few more dates. Then it was my 39th birthday, so I invited her to come with me to Costco. Later that night was my birthday party and I invited all the people I had met over the 6-7 month period of using Fukuoka Now Classifieds. All the connections, all the parties, all the BBQs I had been to. About 30 people came out, which really shocked me! I was surprised that I had met that many people in such a short amount of time. It was a great birthday party and really memorable. That night Misako and I decided to get together.
So it happened rather quickly, after only 3 dates. We just had a great connection that I’d never felt before. If there’s such a thing as soul-mates, she’s that for me. We knew we wanted to get married in 2 months. It was really natural. So we decided to write out a one year plan, month by month from that time until now. And we have managed to do every single one of the steps.
At that time I was still running my English school but it had shrunk considerably, so we started to talk about moving to America. We needed some money, and I decided I needed to find a job… so of course, I turned to the Fukuoka Now Classifieds again! I went to some interviews and at one of them I heard about another private teaching company. So I went to Kitakyushu for the interview, and got the job. Only last month I finished my one year contract with the company. Over the past year I’ve managed to save most of the money we need to go to America.
So it’s amazing how much my life changed in such a short period of time. And when I think about it, I don’t think anything would have been possible without the Fukuoka Now Classifieds! Through the Classifieds I met Misako, found a job (indirectly), sold a lot of things and made many friends. I really felt compelled to write a message to Fukuoka Now thanking the Classifieds section for all it has allowed me to do.
Why do you think the Classifieds system worked for you?
Because it’s limited to people in Fukuoka- that’s why it’s really important and powerful. Facebook is great, but it’s so wide and open. To be able to use a system that’s exclusively for people in Fukuoka means you are able to find friends nearby, relationships nearby, buy and sell things nearby..and so on…
Do you have any advice to Classifieds users looking for relationships?
From a personal growth standpoint, it’s about using the process to improve yourself. It’s not just about getting a girlfriend or boyfriend- thats a stressful frame of mind to put yourself in. You should just enjoy meeting people and being social. Don’t even limit it to women if you’re a guy, or men if you’re a girl- that way you’ll increase your social network and naturally meet people, and then it happens. You can’t force it- but you have to take consistent action. So the Fukuoka Now Classifieds is one way to make consistent action. Have a look at all sorts of advertisements- for parties and social events- so that you can open up more and not stick to your own social group. Meeting all kinds of people is important.