Posted by: skyward | December 3, 2009


“Wow  —- what an excellent opportunity, especially for your children!  They will have wonderful experiences.”  So they say. 

People have remarked, almost invariably, as if to congratulate me, never doubting that my children will grow up to be perfectly fluent in Japanese and  perfectly at home with Japanese culture. 

Yes, I do appreciate the opportunity to give my two young children a broad array of multicultural experiences, from okyushoku-toban (serving famously yummy school lunch, clad in a white costume) to Sports Day (photo posted below), and from festivals (replete with cotton candy and kingyo-sukui, every one’s beloved gold-fish catching game, as described below by Daniel) to the New Year’s celebrations all of us eagerly await.  

My children themselves keenly recognize that our relocation has enabled them to explore so many new things in their “other” motherland they had never visited before, expanding their horizons. 

Nevertheless, they are not twisting their mother’s arm, begging to consider staying here longer; instead, they often start sentences with the same phrase: when we (I) go back to Seattle.  “When we go back to Seattle, I want to have another playdate with Alistair.”  “When we go back to Seattle, I want to take ballet lessons.”  As much as they savor Tokyo Disneyland and freshly cooked dumplings, they continue to view America –unmistakably— as their home. 

“Life in Japan is hard,”  wrote Daniel in his journal.  (Though he added immediately after that: ” but it is also fun.”)  I did not ask my boy what he had meant.  But let me guess.  Perhaps all those kanji (Chinese characters) tests at school, where he has struggled with reading and writing in his second mother tongue.  Perhaps those classmates who tease him, though good-naturedly in Daniel’s own terms, by calling him “foreigner.”  Or is it simply the Tokyo Metro trains we ride day in, day out, surrounded by sober-suited men?  (Riding the subway itself remained an enthralling experience only at the beginning.  It has quickly lost its exotic charm.)

Oh, the way I write may have set a grim tone.   In any event, rest assured that their scale tips in favor of Japan.  (And that is exactly what I hope for, at least while we are here.)  They have new friends.  They cherish virtually every place we visit.  (I take pride in selecting good places for our weekend outings, thanks to my research skills.  Hey, I went to law school.) 

Okay, Daniel, I fully agree that there is one place you loathed: Sanrio Puro Land –“Hello Kitty Land” in his sister’s words, a theme park filled with sweet cute Sanrio characters every little girl in her pink fluffy dress will fall in love with.  (And thank you for enduring it for hours on her birthday.)


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