May 27, 2012
Francesco Agresti

Resident Interview: Milana

Two years ago Milana and her family left their hometown in Indonesia to start a new and exciting life in the heart of Tokyo. Now two years later, Milana shares her family’s experiences in their new home located in Yoyogi.


How is life for your family in Tokyo now compared to when you first came?

It’s a lot better now because I know where everything is and I’ve adapted to the culture and the way things work here. Japan is very different and unlike any country I’ve ever been to. When I first arrived, I was surprised at how crowded places were although the streets were so clean! As for my kids, it was really easy for them to adapt to Japan because they’re still young. But the fact that there are so many facilities which are catered for children was a huge help as well.

 

Could you walk us through the process of getting your apartment with the aid of Ken?

Well, our agent was a huge help to us. She asked us what kind of house and environment we liked before taking us to several houses. We spent a full three days house hunting with her and she was going beyond the call of duty to make sure we were 100% happy with our decision. I was impressed that our agent listened to every little request we had. For example, we didn’t want many stairs in the house because my parent-in-laws often come to visit. Usually, we would have picked a house that is located near our kid’s school, but at that time we were still trying to decide the right school. Our agent took that into account and found a house located near several key schools to make our lives easier. Luckily, we ended up sending our kids to the British School in Tokyo.


In what ways have Ken continued to support you?

Whenever I have a problem or query, Ken are the first people I go to. I had them change a few lights for me recently and they will soon replace some damaged flora in the front yard. On top of that, whenever we had a problem with kitchen appliances, Ken would come and fix it. If the problem couldn’t be solved, then they would simply replace the unit. Their response time is very fast and they act very promptly.

 

Could you tell us a little about your neighborhood?

There are a lot of expats living here as well as a handful of international schools. In fact, my next door neighbor’s kids go to the same school as mine, so us mothers go and pick up the kids together everyday. Yoyogi is really convenient because you can walk to all the major supermarkets, shops and most importantly, Yoyogi Park. The park is huge and it feels like you’re entering another world since it’s right in the middle of a bustling city.

 

How are your children getting along in school?

They’re getting along really well. They actually prefer school here more than their school back in Indonesia! We’re planning on going to Indonesia for a week during the school term because of my husband’s business, but the kids would rather stay here in Japan so they can stay in school! That must be a good sign. Currently, my two children are involved in after school activities, which keeps them happy and occupied.

 

What is a typical weekend like for your family?

Usually we try to get out of the city and visit as many places as we can in Japan. We recently went to Mt. Naeba for a weekend ski trip to take advantage of the beautiful snow before the hot summer melts it all away. We also went to the base of Mt. Fuji which is only a couple hours drive from our place.

Is there anything you enjoy doing here that you can’t do back home?

Eating the delicious and varied cuisine here definitely comes to mind. In Indonesia, there isn’t much available for the kids except for a mall or two. Here in Tokyo, there are countless recreational locations to explore like Disneyland, play areas and parks.

 

Is there any advice on adapting in Tokyo you could give to potential Tokyo residents?

A problem I share, along with several other expats, is that I can’t read or speak Japanese. So I think it would do you good if you learn just the basics of the language. That alone can make life smoother and more comfortable in Japan. But not knowing the language doesn’t present a huge problem. There’s always a way around it if your living in a big city such as Tokyo. Now that I put the effort in to learn the basics, I can order food, get a taxi and do the shopping in Japanese.

I would also advise not to bring too many things from your home. You can find everything in Tokyo and usually for a reasonable price. Also, I think electrical appliances from your home won’t work here so you should consider buying them here in Japan. Making friends with mothers from your children’s school is the best way to get involved and feel more natural in a new environment. Last but not least, be prepared for having friends and relatives to come visit you because Tokyo is such a fantastic place!

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