Me and Japan ~Emily O’Marraさん~


Today’s article is from Emily. She is a Canadian and moved to Tokyo to teach English this month. I met her a couple of months ago. She is so nice and interested in Japanese culture. This article is for introducing her trip to Japan in 2013 and what she is expecting for new life in a Far East island.

Living in Japan is something I’ve been interested in doing for a very long time. Everything about Japan intrigues me and I intend to learn more by being completely immersed in it. My first introduction to Japanese culture was receiving a book for Christmas that was filled with photos of Japanese street fashion. I remember feeling inspired by the creativity and attention to detail in every outfit pictured and since then I have been enamoured with everything to do with Japan.



In June of 2013 my friend and I were set to travel to Japan, and I was so excited to finally experience the country that I had read so much about. We decided to find accommodations through Couch Surfing in each destination to save money while also getting a feel of what its like to live in a Japanese home.

そして2013年、友達と日本へ旅行できることが決まりついに自分が本でずっと読んでいた国の文化を体験できるということでとても興奮しました。宿探しは”カウチ サーフィン”(airbnbのような個人による宿泊施設提供サービス)を利用しました。宿泊費を浮かすのもそうだったたけど、日本の住生活について知りたかったという側面もありました。

The Our first experience was in Tokyo and we were hosted by Takahisa. After we arrived at Akihabara Station, Taka went out of his way to meet up with us and make sure we found our way to his home. We took off our shoes and were given a tour of his small but cozy apartment, and he informed us that we weren’t allowed to use his stove because he has never used it before (or at least that’s what I think he said). After the tour,Taka insisted that we sleep in his bed while he take the couch. We attempted to politely argue in broken Japanese/English but eventually gave up and moved our things into his bedroom. Although throughout our stay with him we couldn’t communicate much verbally, he took some time on his day off to get sushi with us and afterwards sing karaoke. While slipping the vodka we snuck in to our cups of pop, we awkwardly sang Avril Lavigne and System of a Down songs in our private karaoke room.



In Kyoto, our host Yusuke taught us how to juggle and told us about his dreams to be in Cirq De Soleil. The next morning he handed us his keys and said he was going on a business trip and wouldn’t be back before we leave. We were taken aback, this guy who barely knew us gave us his keys and let us stay in his apartment FOR FREE and trusted us to be there on our own.


Fast forward to our last host, Hiro. After some sake and his homemade ‘tofu hamburgers’ I asked about the 236 references on his Couch Surfing profile and why he would let that many strangers in his home, to which he replied “I don’t get enough time off of work to travel, so I like to host people from all over the world so I can learn about their countries.”



At the end of our trip I felt so thankful and it warmed my heart that our hosts not only trusted us but were also just genuinely interested in getting to know us and where we came from. This kindness reminded me of why I wanted to make Japan my home one day.



During my last hours in Japan I sat in Narita Airport eating my last Japanese meal; Pickled Plum Onigiri and a Sakura/Matcha Kit Kat. As the time got closer to boarding the plane I could feel an intense sadness inside of me and I was wishing that I could have stayed longer. Walking down the hallway to board my plane I immediately broke into tears that I couldn’t hold back and it continued even to the point that the plane took off. The man sitting beside me kept looking over at me with a disturbed face and probably thought I was terrified of planes but really I was just so devastated to be leaving somewhere so amazing that I truly connected with. I am so excited to experience a year in Japan because those two weeks I spent in 2013 meant so much to me.


Since I’ve been back in Canada, I have made a few Japanese friends who have visited Canada to try and learn English. I have already experienced some cultural differences through meeting these people; for instance hugging. Multiple times I have forgotten that hugging people you barely know isn’t really a thing over there and have received a few awkward cold hugs and immediately felt bad after for probably making them feel uncomfortable. There will be more uncomfortable situations as a result of cultural differences in my future of living in Japan I am sure, but I am looking forward to it because it is all a part of the experience of being in a new country that is totally foreign to you.


How did you like it? Japan is apparently trying to accept many English speakers as teachers. Globalization would accelerate this kind of movement. It’s quite good. I remember I took some classes from Bulgarian teacher who speak English when I was in elementary school. Learning a foreign language used to be so unthinkable for me that I got nothing though haha. On the other hand, I feel like I’m so proud of our beautiful culture because a ton of people across the world are really into it. As I mentioned, she is an artist as well. I like her work so I’m gonna put some of them. I’ll keep my finger crossed for her success in the future : )






1994年生まれ。大学ではメディア専攻。2015年9月からワーホリでトロントへ。FC.TokyoとTottenham Hotspurのファン。