Being at Home in Japan

Being in Japan for more than two decades, Jennifer Shinkai shares what it is like living in Japan, which she now considers her home, as a foreigner.

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I feel okaerinasai in Japan.

Nick: So I lived there for 10 years. I probably call Japan my spirit country, and I might go back. But yeah, I'm not sure it ever felt like home for me. But does it feel like home for you?

Jennifer: Yes and no. So yes, in the case of thinking about when I get back to Japan, I feel okaerinasai, I walk into a home where my immediate family is here. I have a lovely community, and I really enjoyed my life. I miss my family in the UK horrendously. 

And, you know, one of the things when I built my business was August is for Europe. Like when we go to England, maybe we used to spend two weeks in France, and just like to have a holiday together. That was how it was built or designed, because it's kind of a quiet time for the industry. That part is sort of what I miss.

And I feel like now many of those kinds of home things, you know, foodstuffs or whatever, you can get them: toothpaste, deodorant, some things that are very, very superficial. 

So yes, in some ways, like, this is where my life is, this is where I've lived all of my adult life as well, like a lot of my kind of, not my formative experiences, but my later experiences as an adult have been here, the birth of my children here. And no, also though, because I'm always going to be othered. Because I'm a white foreigner. 

So I'm off, I'm constantly reminded with questions like, when will you go back to your home country? And asking to be, not in a like, you know, go home foreigner so often, but just the disbelief that I'm here forever.

So that's a little bit of a difference. And I was thinking as well, maybe one of the questions have been, has Japan and England gone through the World cup, who would've I supported?