Mar 30, 2012
Francesco Agresti

Resident Interview: Kirk

Kirk, along with his wife and six-year old daughter has just recently made the big move from Boston, United States to Tokyo, Japan. We stop by his wonderfully furnished house to find out what his new life in Japan is like.

 Ken Corporation

What were your biggest concerns prior to arriving in Japan?

Initially, I think the language barrier was a concern for me, but of course, the radiation concerns were a big issue. However, we decided if ten million Tokyoites can deal with it, then we can too!

 

What do you think has helped you to settle into your new home?

Most definitely making new friends, especially through my daughter’s school community. We also made good friends with our neighbors, but unfortunately, one of the families left Japan recently, which left my daughter quite upset. Luckily for us, we have a relative nearby, which can make the world of difference when moving to a new country.

 

What were the deciding factors for choosing this apartment?

We fell in love with this place as soon as we walked in! My wife and I did a lot of entertaining back home in the States, so my wife really wanted a large and open kitchen with an attached dining room area. This way, my wife and I can socialize with our guests while we do the cooking. The things that sealed the deal were being located near our relative as well as having high ceilings.

Ken Corporation

Where do you go for entertainment in your local area?

There are so many restaurants in the Daikanyama area, but we are quite limited in where we can go due to having a six-year old. But my daughter loves going to Tokyu Hands, so we take the elevator to the top and work our way down. It lasts a good hour!

Which aspect of Japanese culture really stands out for you?

The orderliness of everything first springs to mind. For example, it took me a little bit of adjustment to figure out how to drive here, because there are some unspoken rules. But once you get to know them, everything will feel very natural. To be honest, some things can be slightly aggravating at times, such as dealing with bureaucracy, airlines or the government since they want to do things in a very specific way. Once you get used to and accept Japan’s unique systems, however, then things will flow very smoothly for you.

The other thing is that the people are very friendly once you break through the large urban barrier. Once you do that, they can be fantastically supportive and willing to go out of their way until whatever you need done is done.

 

What were the biggest challenges for your child when moving here? 

She attends an international school so fortunately the language barrier wasn’t an issue. Although when she first started she used to shy away from Japanese speaking activities, whether they were swimming or ballet classes. The school does a great job to make sure the children’s adjustments are as seamless as possible, so they assign a buddy to my daughter to help her adjust and to have an instant connection ready for her.

Now she’s very well adjusted and considers Japan to be her home. In fact when we were on our way back to Japan from a Christmas holiday in the States, she said “Yay daddy, we’re going back to konnichiwa land!”

Ken Corporation

How has Ken continued to provide their service for your family?

They are very responsive when we have an issue, so if we call them, they will usually turn up on the same day. Of course for more minor issues, it may take a little longer. We’ve had damaged or broken things fixed and even replaced so we are very satisfied with the service. The grounds are constantly maintained as gardeners trim the trees and clean the surrounding area to make everything look neat and tidy.

I have to add that our agent Hosakawa-san was extremely accommodating during our initial one week house-hunting visit. We had budget and size constraints as well as having a set standard of living that we wanted to maintain. Actually, at one point we had already decided on this place, but immediately after that, I decided to take a walk to my daughter’s school to see how far and accessible it was. It turned out to be forty-five minutes away so I thought “I can’t do this every day…”

So we called up even though we had already decided on the place and asked if there was any place closer. To our surprise, Hosakawa-san came out immediately and took us to see two more places nearer to the school. In the end, however, we finally settled on this place since we bought a car. He was very patient with us!

 

What could you tell people overseas about living in Japan?

It really is a wonderful experience living in Tokyo. Perhaps when I was younger and came to visit, I brought many of my own notions and preconceptions of what life should be like in Japan. Now that I’m a bit older and better traveled, I have come to accept cultural differences much easier and I find myself going with the flow so to speak. It’s such a large metropolis, yet so safe and clean, which is a wonderful environment for our daughter to grow up in. In fact, we’re even a little concerned about bringing her back to the States!

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