I did my graduate degree in International Affairs, majoring in Political Economy, training to be a diplomat at pretty much the only Canadian school where you do this. Alas, after an internship during the winter of 1994 at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, I found the prospect of a career in the Diplomatic Corps too bleak a prospect to contemplate. My goodness, it didn’t even pay well. So I needed to figure out where to go next. I did what I usually do in these situations; I went Japan. I’ve spent about four years there on three stints. Japan punctuates my adult life – intermissions preceding decisive turns in the plot.
This time I’d been offered an 18 month scholarship to finish researching my graduate thesis (American Foreign Direct Investment in Japan: The Economic, Socio-Cultural and Political impediments – in case you wondered) at Hitotsubashi University in Tokyo. It was a sweet sinecure. I was supposed to spend the first six months beefing up my Japanese at the Tokyo University of Foreign Studies – intensive language training – before going on to Hitotsubashi to do research and course work for the remaining year. But I somehow managed to finish my thesis early – before I even left for Japan. In fact I’d already graduated!
So I was free to do what I wanted. Thousands of kilometres from home in vibrant Tokyo, unattached (I wouldn’t meet my wife to be for another year), and with money to burn. I drank too much Suntory and occasionally woke up in strange places. I did the most pointless things – like climb Fuji-San. If I got tired of Japan, I jumped on a plane and came half-way home to Whistler, to smoke-up and snowboard for the winter. Yoga wasn’t remotely on my horizon. The scholarship paid like a good job – except I didn’t have to work. Instead, I had more than enough time to spend my yen – which I did. It was 1995, I was 25, and I worshipped Bacchus that year with some fervour.