Apr 27, 2012
Francesco Agresti

Resident Interview: The Donnalley Family

Just having recently moved from Houston Texas, the Donnalley family get cozy in their new spacious apartment—complete with a traditional tatami room and grand garden.

Ken Corporation

Pictured from left to right: Andrew, Jennifer, Cooper, Greer


Could you tell us the process of how Ken helped you find this apartment?

Andrew: Well at first I started to look at houses because we have a dog and we wanted a bit of a garden. But at the last minute Ken asked us if we wanted to look at an apartment. So I thought as long as the kids can play the piano and there’s enough grass for the dog to play in, I’ll look at anything. Ken then showed us this place and I told them I was done looking!


Has your family encountered any pleasant surprises since landing in Japan?

Jennifer: Every time we go out it’s a new surprise! Just recently we went to Meguro River in the evening to see the cherry blossoms, which were all beautifully lit up.

Andrew: We also went to Yoyogi Park which looked a bit like SEC Tailgate meets Mardi Gras as far as cherry blossom events go! We’re fortunate enough to entertain in our own garden, so just recently we had folks down from the office for a barbecue.

Jennifer: The two cherry blossom trees in our garden allows us to have our own little hanami right on our door step.


Are there any particular activities you enjoy doing as a family?

Jennifer: We like to walk around the neighborhood since we are still quite new here. Actually, we just purchased some tickets to see our first baseball game here.

Andrew: Also, the kids have joined a club at the Yoyogi gymnasium as well as taking Japanese lessons.


How’s your Japanese?

Cooper: Nani mo shiranai! (I don’t know anything!)

Ken Corporation

How are you finding your new school?

Greer: The school’s really good.

Cooper: Yeah, they teach you a lot more than you would usually learn in a public school.

Greer: They taught us about Japanese culture at the beginning of the year and we’ve learned to do some Japanese crafts.

Jennifer: Greer was actually supposed to go on a field trip today to see some traditional Japanese architecture, but it was cancelled due to the rain.


What is it like having a pet in Tokyo?

Andrew: Well our dog Lucy just arrived about two weeks ago because she was still in quarantine. We didn’t have much time to prepare when moving here so that’s why she came quite late.

Jennifer: In fact, I just registered her in the ward office today so she’s now officially a resident!


Are there any challenges with regards to obtaining supplements for Lucy?

Andrew: I think the supplements will be fine once we find a vet. As for food, we go down to Costco in Kawasaki and buy large bags of dog food, so no problem there.


Which places in Shibuya really stand out for your family?

Jennifer: I like going around Shibuya Station since there are so many different shops to explore there.

Andrew: Thankfully, just a few days after we moved here, one of my college buddies who had lived in Tokyo for ten years was in town for business. He showed us around the neighborhood and the places he used to go to such as the West Park Café. Thanks to him we found some good grocery stores and my son was happy to discover a cream puff shop called Beard Papa.

Ken Corporation

Do you have any tips for making the transition to Tokyo as smooth as possible?

Jennifer: You should read about the culture before you come and if you have a connection in Japan, then make good use of it.

Andrew: That was actually one of the things that put us here. One of my colleagues gave us advice on what subway line we should live near for my commute to work. He told us how to make a short jump over from the Chiyoda line to the Keio line, so that whole line became a viable housing option for a reasonable commute. If we didn’t have that info, then we wouldn’t have been looking for houses along the Chiyoda line at all. Another thing to make your life easier is having an iPhone.

Jennifer: I’ve made much use of Google Maps on my iPhone.

Andrew: Yes, and Google Translate is a personal favorite of mine. So in short, try to plan and get an iPhone for when you arrive!

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