Monday, April 02, 2012

Japanese expats in Dubai

Kaoru Takeda Martin, 35

I come from Kobe, a town near Osaka, on the west side of Japan. While I miss my home country, especially the food, the culture, and walking outside, sometimes, the people there wouldn’t treat my husband with respect because he is a Westerner. I met my husband, an American, in Japan, nine years ago, and then left after we got married. We moved to Abu Dhabi, where he taught English. The city wasn’t busy at that time; it was calm and quiet. We found it a bit boring, to be honest, and so we left, spending a year in Japan and a year in Thailand. These years made us realise that life is actually quite easy over here, especially for a mixed couple, so we moved back – this time to Dubai. We’ve now been here for four years.
I’m not working now; instead, I take care of my kids and do housework.

Dubai is so big now, and so busy. When we were in Abu Dhabi, it wasn’t like this. There were fewer buildings and there wasn’t construction everywhere. Now Dubai is growing so fast, it’s surprising. Before, I could take taxis everywhere, but this time around I need a car to get around. I like that I can meet lots of people from different cultures here. It’s also nice that everyone speaks English. When I’m not looking after my kids, I go out and meet friends for coffee, or go to the park or do gardening; I like being outside. I like Bento-Ya for Japanese food: it’s owned by Japanese people, so you can get Japanese home-style food there. But I don’t really eat out much, I mainly cook at home. For Japanese products, I go to Choithrams in the Hyatt Regency. There are a lot of Japanese in that area, living in hotel apartments, so the grocery stocks more Japanese food.

Dubai is definitely a good city to raise kids. There is a group that gives Japanese lessons to Japanese kids once a week, called the Nihongo Circle. Ren, my eight-year-old son, goes to improve his Japanese. The teachers are all volunteers, who also try to give kids the chance to learn Japanese culture through various events. I feel it is very important to know our own cultures and languages, even though we live outside of our own countries.

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