Feb 17, 2012
Francesco Agresti

Resident Interview: Iwona

On January 6th, Iwona, her husband Peter, their three young children, and their canine companion “Toto” made the big move to Tokyo. Fresh from a stint Singapore, Japan is the sixth country they have called home.

Iwona and her canine companion

How did you find out about living in Japan prior to arriving?

Well, we had already visited a few times so we already fell in love with Japan. We managed to participate in the Kyoto half marathon twice and plan to do the full marathon here in March. Other than that, we read a few guide books but I’m not much of a planner as I prefer to just go with the wind.


Did you have any specific requirements when choosing real estate?

Yes, we wanted it to be spacious since we have three young active kids and a dog! We wanted to have an outdoor area for the same reason as well. Another major factor was that it had to be close to our children’s schools. In fact, my son’s kinder garten is just around the corner from here! Apart from that, I wanted a house situated in a peaceful area, as I like to stroll through neighbourhoods and observe the locals as they go about their day. All in all, this place has met every requirement and even exceeded our expectations!


What are the important things you have done to assimilate and settle into your new home?

I’m very much an outdoor person so I like to walk and jog around my area, which helps me to familiarize myself with life here. I love the spontaneous interactions I make with Japanese people even though we usually can’t speak each other’s language. For instance, I went jogging around the Emperor’s Palace and greeted fellow joggers as they passed by. It sounds simple but it’s so heart warming for me. Hopefully, I’ll be joining the local tennis club soon so I can meet new people and continue my hobby. At the end of the day, you have to be brave and outgoing to help you settle quickly and properly.


Now that you’ve moved in and settled, what have been the important aspects of being comfortable and satisfied?

In our eyes, quality is really important. All of our house appliances work perfectly and we feel so safe here. In fact, we happen to live near a few embassies so you can imagine how safe our area is! Also, it’s so easy to travel around Tokyo. It makes life easy for us, especially when you have three young children.

 Iwona makes herself comfy

What are some of the pitfalls of moving into a new place?

The language barrier is the main thing really. Everything is written in Japanese so I can’t read most signs. On top of that, I don’t know whether my actions offend people or not as I’m not familiar with their customs and culture. These points are only minor though and they don’t really hold us back. You could even say we have an advantage over most foreign residents because we are so used to moving locations, so we’re not really affected by culture shock.


What is the area you live in like and why did you choose it?

Well, we chose this area because we wanted to live close to my husband’s company, who also recommended us to use Ken Corporation to help us find a suitable house. So we ended up having a three day visit in Tokyo so that we could meet our “Ken” agent and have a look at the houses they had on offer. To our surprise, we managed to sort everything out in just one day! This very house we are in now is only the second place we looked at because it was just like love at first sight. I don’t know how to say it, but there’s an indescribable “wow” factor about this place.

As for the area itself, it has a balanced mixture of calm liveliness. My intent here is to experience the exciting city life while having a place where I can unwind when I need to. My kids love the city life here and we always end up discovering small parks around our area, which is great for meeting other families and feeling a part of the community.


What do you do to keep yourself stimulated and busy?

Where do I begin? As a family, we tend to do a lot of outdoor activities like taking bike trips to Yoyogi Park, exploring nearby streets while walking the dog and just randomly stumbling upon new and fascinating locations. Loving the house to! We don’t even have a TV and it has done wonders for us. Days actually go by a lot faster since we find more productive things to do together around the house. Above everything I just mentioned though, I think the beauty and thrill of not knowing what comes next really appeals to me.

Are there any particular places in your neighborhood you and your family enjoy going to?

We’ve only been living here for about a month so far, so we’re still exploring. But there’s a particular soba restaurant nearby called Gonpachi (famous for being used in the movie “Kill Bill”), which we really liked. To be honest though, we don’t really go to many restaurants since we have a two year old, which can make things a little difficult.


What impresses you the most about your apartment and Japan itself?

Well, the house catches a lot of sunlight because of the huge windows, so it’s nice and bright. The interior design feels really friendly and warm with a modern and simplistic twist. It’s very spacious for us to so we can easily get in and out of the house with a baby stroller, without having to use stairs of elevators. I even find myself having fun in the kitchen!

As for Japan, it’s definitely the people that impress me the most. Their customs, the way they’re so polite…everything. Oh, and the four seasons here is a god send for me because I haven’t experienced it for ten whole years! It’s good because we can experience and enjoy different kinds of activities for each season.


Is there a message you could give to the people who have an interest in moving to Japan?

I would definitely recommend going with Ken when looking for a house because I’ve found them so efficient. We sent them an inquiry before moving to Japan and they quickly responded with a list of ten potential accommodations situated near my husband’s company. I was really surprised!

You always find yourself remembering the first people you come into contact with when moving to a new country. In our case, our Ken agent was one of those people. The connection between him and our family is really rare because we can feel comfortable with each other.


How does Ken Corp continue to provide their services for you?

Oh, they’re always on the ball. Their staff is always available to listen to any problems or questions we might have and they are quick to respond. There was one time where we needed an adaptor so we called our agent. To our surprise, he handed one to us personally at our doorstep! At the end of the day, it all comes down to trust. You need to trust someone to be trusted, as it is with us and Ken. If you give sugar, you get honey.

Iwona with interviewer Francesco

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