Laura Pollacco

Nationality: British/Maltese
Time Living in Japan: Total 3 years 7 months ( From 2017-2019, then May 2022 till present)
Employer: Freelance (don’t own a business)
Current Job Title: Freelance Photojournalist
Areas of Expertise: Photography, writing, research, editing, travel planning
Education: BA (Hons) Fashion Photography from Falmouth University
Language Ability: English – Native, Japanese – Intermediate

Laura has lived in Japan for over three and a half years, spending the first two as an Assistant Language Teacher in Kanagawa Prefecture, before returning once again in 2022 as a photojournalist and traveler. She found she had a knack for telling stories, whether they be from her travels or from the lives of the interesting individuals she interviewed, and now works as a freelance journalist based in Tokyo. She brings her literary and photography skills to Jarman International, bringing stories from around the country to life.

Laura’s interests are varied, finding herself researching everything from women’s issues to regional politics, travel and leisure to fashion and design. Most of all though, Laura loves to discover more about Japan, the country she now considers her second home. When she isn’t traveling, writing, or researching, you can find her memorizing lines or in rehearsal for her next theatrical production with one of Tokyo’s esteemed theatre companies.

Favorite Thing About Living in Japan:
Japan is an extremely diverse country when it comes to travel destinations. One month I could be skiing in the Alps and the next scuba diving in Okinawa. There is always so much to do here and I know I will never get to do it all in my lifetime – though I can try!

The combination of Japan being reliable and secure and at the same time unexpected and new. Public services consistently work here, and they work well, allowing a sense of reliability. There are always new places to visit, new food to try, and new events to attend – I have never once felt bored here!

Favorite Place to Visit in Japan:
Kerama Islands, Okinawa. These islands, just a few hours away from the mainland by ferry, are the most stunning tropical locations I have ever visited. When I first arrived here I couldn’t believe how privileged I was to have access to a place like this. Here you can swim with sea turtles in early summer, go scuba diving, snorkeling, kayaking, SUPing, hiking, and just generally enjoy the nature around you. 

Enoshima, Kanagawa. Having lived in Kanagawa for two years I have a soft spot for Enoshima. The beach line often is dotted with surfers catching waves and is an extremely relaxed environment compared to nearby Tokyo. I love to head across the bridge to the island, climb to the top, stopping at the shrines on the way, and then enjoy a walk around the Samuel Cocking Garden, catching views of Mt. Fuji, and eating french toast there.

What has kept you in Japan?
When I first left Japan, after living here for two years, it was because I didn’t believe I could accomplish what I wanted here. I was wrong. Upon returning I have had more opportunities than I would have back in the U.K. I have a strong network of friends, hobbies I enjoy pursuing, and my career has allowed me to meet people, visit places, and do things I never thought I would. Living in Japan may come with some stresses, mainly bureaucratic, but overall I feel comfortable and happy here. Public services are great, the cost of living is much better than back home, and, honestly, right now my heart belongs here. There is so much here that piques my curiosity that I still wish to know more about, so I have no plan to leave anytime soon. 

Favorite Place to Visit Outside Japan:
Well, I love going back to Malta to see family there and reconnect, but there isn’t one place I’d really love to go, as I have traveled to many locations around the world. There are places I want to visit, such as Thailand, Singapore, and Canada for a variety of reasons, from their natural landscapes to their food and a sheer interest in their culture. I’m honestly open to so many places though. Though I have no desire to live in the U.K. right now, I enjoy heading back there once or twice a year to be with my family and revel in the familiarity that comes with being in the country you grew up in. 

What you have noticed has changed throughout your time living in Japan?
Attitudes towards internationals living here have changed since I arrived in 2017. I think the country is shifting more towards accepting international workers and, though slow, some initiatives are underway to make the process a little less painful. The pandemic also changed the country, especially when it comes to tourism, with lesser-known prefectures really pushing to catch the attention of tourists who so often go to Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka (which are now struggling with overcrowding from the fact). I don’t know if this is a change in Japan or if I have simply become more aware of it. What I can say is that international presence in the country has certainly changed over the last decade and will continue to do so.