All for Japan | Why I Slave Away for This Country

An overhead shot of one of the main intersections in Ginza, a place where Donny Kimball is often working for Japan.

For the past several years, I’ve always published some random musings on my birthday. Seeing as I am now, as of today, again an older man (37 years old if you’re wondering), I figured that I might as well continue the streak. After all, it has been one insanely eventful year. In fact, the only thing that hasn’t really been happening in the past twelve months is sleep. Whether it be as a freelance digital marketer or as a travel content creator, I’ve put in some really insane hours over these twelve months. Hell, I bet my average day is well over fourteen hours when factoring in location shoots.

A lot of people often ask me why the hell I work so diligently for Japan. To be frank, I don’t know how to answer them. You see, it’s basically self evident to me — Japan is simply a place that I want to give my all to and it almost feels as if I was born to serve it. There is honestly nothing that I would rather do more than to wake up and work my face off for Japan. Yes, the form of that output of that effort does vary from day to day. Sometimes, it is bringing foreign money into Japan through freelance gigs, other times it’s content. At the end of the day though, it’s all work for Japan’s sake.

As I write this one-off birthday rant, I am currently on the bullet train back from Shin-Osaka following a four-day press tour in Nara Prefecture. Everyone else in the group is flying back but I had to cancel my return trip due to an unexpected meeting with a potentially lucrative overseas prospect. While it sucks to have the airfare go to waste, it is just one of the realities of being a freelance marketer cum content creator. Quite literally, I am always on call for someone and also regularly answering emails while simultaneously documenting the Japanese countryside.

Lately, I’ve been joking that I work for a Japanese black kigyo (lit. “black company) but the CEO is actualyl me. It’s kind of funny until you realize how true it is. I basically do nothing but sleep a few hours, produce content and stare at Facebook and Google ad interfaces. Even then, I often crawl into bed feeling like there is something more that I could or should have done in service of Japan. Maybe I am a complete psycho but I can’t wrap my head around the concept of work-life balance. Why not make the two the same thing and live your work?

Since Elon Musk let that sink in and demanded that the Twitter employees that stayed around commit to a “hardcore” work ethic, there’s been a lot of chatter online about the topic. At least as far as my now 37 years of life experience show though, you can’t really do anything meaningful working only 40 hours a week. Sure, that might be sufficient for support staff and other people doing shift work but it’s hard to move the proverbial needle working only five days a week from 9–5.

Truth be told, it’s hard to pinpoint what I get out of all of the work. I guess you could say that it is what the universe put me on this planet to do. Like with anyone else putting in grueling hours, it’s never about the money — That alone will only motivate a man so much. Instead, I derive meaning and happiness out of leaning into the unique set of skills that I’ve been blessed with. There’s certainly people more knowledgeable about Japan than myself. Likewise, there are better marketers out there too. That said, few others can wear all these hats simultaneously.

While my dual roles as a creator x digital marketer have indeed led to me having the most lucrative year of my life, I’ve actually funneled every single yen that I’ve earned into something for Japan. Every month, I either empty my bank account on promoting my travel content in an effort to get more overseas visitors off of the beaten path or I am financing adventures to rural regions with no budget to promote themselves. Of course, I also can’t forget all of the coin I drop supporting local vendors in the countryside!

In the Daikon Cult, we have an ongoing gag that Japan takes care of those who take care of it. Oddly, the more capital that Cheesie and I throw at the prefectures, the more Japan gives back to us in the form of new opportunities. While this certainly isn’t financial advice, the two of us find that worshiping Japan and embracing it with all our hearts is the best investment, both for our time and our money.

Anyway, internal cult oddities aside, I just wanted to end this one off rant about being a workaholic for Japan with a few words on the coming year. Obviously, I am not going to be doing much “hanging out” with people outside of the confines of content creations. There are just too many places to see and articles to write for me to justify the loss of time. As is, I am already behind my publishing schedule due to the near non-stop press tours.

Speaking of content, social media is currently in a weird place. As of my 37th birthday, we have no idea if Twitter will be around next week, let alone next year. Likewise, the Zuckerbot is burning through Meta’s cash at an unbelievable rate. With their failure to innovate in the face of TikTok’s growth, it’s hard to say if Facebook and Instagram will go the way of Myspace before the metaverse becomes mainstream.

With all platforms but TikTok and YouTube seeming to not be questionable bets, I’ll be gambling on SEO and trying to bring more readers to the blog. Ever since short form video has taken over social media, it’s been harder to convey anything meaningful due to the limitations of the format. Long form writing on the other hand affords enough leeway for ample context. Try as I might, a topic like Shibutsu Shugo just isn’t possible to explain in a mere few seconds.

To ensure that you never miss an article, consider signing up for my weekly newsletter. Every week, I send out a short update with what I’ve written as long as some information about what part of Japan I’ll be exploring next. It’s a great way for us to stay in touch, regardless of that the social media algorithms may do.

Until next time travelers…

Subscribe to My Newsletter

Donny Kimball
Donny Kimball

I'm a travel writer and freelance digital marketer who blogs about the sides of Japan that you can't find in the mainstream media.

Articles: 306