“I bet you $50 you’ll marry a Japanese bloke,” my friend Merc said to me at my farewell party before I left on a working holiday to Japan in 1999. Which was a ridiculous thing to say as I had shown no interest in getting married or Japanese boys! But two years later, I returned to Melbourne married to a Japanese man.
How young do we look?
Melbourne Wedding, December 16th 2000.
My husband Masa and I met in Osaka on April, 2000. We were introduced by his aunt, a former student of mine and I liked him instantly. We met after I’d been in Osaka a year, a year that had been spent as a bar fly in Shinsaibashi and travelling around Japan. I was actually considering going home just before we met as I thought Japan and I had reached the end of our journey, how wrong I was! We were engaged pretty quickly, within three months. My visa was due to expire in September 2000 and I wanted to go back to Australia to finish university. So I went home, with the plan that we would apply for residency for Masa and then get married later. But in the most spontaneous thing he’s ever done, after one month apart, he booked a flight and hightailed it to Melbourne. We were married December 2000 by the Yarra River in Melbourne in front of a small group of family and friends.
Our first son Kai came pretty (accidentally!) quickly in November 2001, followed by two more boys, Ren in 2005 and Nao in 2008 and we were settled pretty nicely into life in Melbourne. We owned, and still do, a house, I trained to be a high school teacher after Nao was born and we had a rich tapestry of family and friends. But always in the back of our minds was that opportunity to bring our kids to Japan, to let them experience living in another country, learn the language and embrace their other culture – basically throw them in the deep end and see how they go! So we moved to Kobe in October 2012 to begin a new life.
I’m not sure how long we will stay, we’ve committed to at least two years here. There are many things that are so much easier about living in Japan – for example, public transport, the food, the lack of swearing, violence, kids can walk to school – but there are also things that are brilliant about living in Australia that we all really miss. We’ve already decided we want to retire in Oz, I want to live by the beach, play golf and drink wine with my girlfriends when I’m old!
I guess for me, I have a little perspective and experience in what it’s like to be a parent in my home country and I must say, there is little difference in terms of our family life between here and Australia. We have similar issues in Australia, school, bullying, expectations and behaviour of other parents to name a few, and the only difference is probably in Australia, things are a bit more out in the open and vocal where as Japan, well I think it’s the land of passive aggressiveness! Although the most unexpected thing is how much input the school has into raising and the health of your child. For me, when my husband said “I need to do something to Nao’s bum” and then produced a worm sticker is one of the strangest things I’ve ever heard. School mandated worm testing, crazy! I can’t wait for poo testing day!
Not so young any more!
The only recent family photo I could find.
I work as an English teacher and I will go out on my own, freelancing and privates from April. Masa is an absolute star, we share the housework and care of the boys, he also does most of the cooking. We have always worked that way. He saw how hard his mum worked and how lazy his father was, he didn’t want to repeat that. I work out of necessity but I would still work if I didn’t have to. I did the SAHM thing when the boys were small – now I want to work so we can enjoy life. And I actually love teaching, or at least I did in Australia, still unconvinced here, hopefully new job will change that!
Tell us how you feel about:
Sushi is ok, not my favourite Japanese food, I’m a Kansai girl, love okonomiyake!
Karaoke is simply not a night out, it’s the performance of your life and should always be approached this way.
Squat toilets kinda gross me out, there’s always a bit of spillage.
Toilet slippers, see squat toilets!
You can follow my blog canthekidsspeakjapanese.blogspot.jp A long name but I have been asked this almost everyday for the past year! Sometimes my kids do some cameo writing but usually it’s all me.
Oh, and I never paid Merc his $50, he still nags me about that!