Mark Bolton

An Englishman in Japan - Background

Tokyo's a fascinating, vibrant, occasionally frustrating place to live and work. I'm not sure that it's the world's most livable city, but it is fun.

I'm a 38 year old Englishman currently resident in Tokyo. I work for one of the 'Big 4' accounting firms in Tokyo, and am currently scheduled to be here until at least June 2010, and most likely a couple more years after that. I live in Shibuya-ku with my wife, Lisa Gilby, and our remaining cat, Lucha. At some point I will suggest that Lisa write up our experience of flying two cats (Lucha and Libre) from Edinburgh to Tokyo on New Year's morning 2006...

I got interested in Japan some time before I graduated from university and in common with many others applied, albeit unsuccessfully, to teach English here on the JET programme. As such it was not totally out of character when I volunteered for a three year secondment to Tokyo from London. I've been in Tokyo since October 2002, and three years turned into five, six, seven, and now looks like it could become nine or ten - something that seems not to be an uncommon story. Coming here as an experienced professional is clearly a different experience than coming straight out of university - both have their pros and cons.

St Andrews is somewhere that really made a great impression on me. While I only spent two years of university there, I have returned about once a year ever since. In part that is a result of having had a great time at university, but also my friends who still live there and the unique atmosphere of that historic small city.

Working backwards, I arrived in Tokyo after almost ten years working in London for the same 'Big 4' accounting firm I still work with. I'm one of the many "accidental accountants" in the UK, i.e. someone who joined the accounting profession from university looking to gain a useful qualification and business training without ever really intending to make it into a long-term career. Indeed there was a stage prior to this career where it looked likely I would become a civil servant performing operations research and writing mathematical models. It's strange how these things work out.

Prior to work I spent three years at the University of St Andrews, in Scotland, studying mathematics, of which one year was physically spent on Erasmus exchange in Germany at the University of Bayreuth. I'm a great believer in the value of the St Andrews experience and served as both a member and chairman of their Giving Clubs Advisory Board for a number of years, as well as leading the "Class of 1993" appeal at the inaugural Reunion in 2003. I am a member of the University of St Andrews Alumni Club, London and would welcome any interested alumni in Tokyo getting in touch. I do hope to be back in the UK when the university celebrates its 600th anniversary in 2011.

Prior to university, I attended schools in the Essex villages of Hedingham, Great Maplestead and Ridgewell. Through Facebook I'm still in touch with a few people from that time.

If you'd like to know more, or you would like to get back in touch you can email me at mark (at) mark bolton (dot) com