I hail from a small country town in Far North Queensland, Australia. My hometown is known for dairy farming, with a population of around 1,500 people – it’s one of those places where everyone knows everyone, and even if they don’t, they’ll say g’day to you anyway! I had a very ‘outdoorsy’ upbringing with my siblings and friends. My best childhood memories are things like climbing trees, floating down the river on tyre tubes, riding our bikes up the road, mowing the yard with the ride-on mower, having sleepovers and playing with the dogs. The simple life! But even as a child, I dreamed of exploring the world. I wanted to visit everywhere from the French countryside, to Machu Picchu, to New York City!
Although my mum is Japanese, I didn’t have much of a connection with Japan when I was a child. The first time I really developed an interest in this country was on a school study trip in 2004 in my final year of high school. I remember being fascinated by so many things – riding the bullet train past Mt Fuji, drinking ‘pure’ water from the ancient Kiyomizu Temple in Kyoto, the massage chairs in Akihabara, taking purikura with my new Japanese friends, watching a 4D movie at Universal Studios in Osaka, and lots more! After that trip, I went back to Japan three times on short trips. I was so captivated by everything that I wanted to experience everyday life there one day – the ultimate goal was to live in Tokyo!
After studying a Languages degree and finishing my Master’s degree in Teaching in Melbourne, I finally got the chance to make that dream happen. I got a job as an eikaiwa (English conversation) teacher and made the move in February 2011 to Koriyama, Fukushima. I was super pumped that I was actually fulfilling one of my life goals! But, Mother Nature had the worst kind of surprise in store for us all. The disastrous Tohoku Earthquake struck exactly one month after I touched down. It was an extremely tragic and stressful time for everyone, but it taught me to value the gift of life more. I ended up relocating to Nagoya and transferring to another division of the company, working as an ALT (assistant language teacher) in public junior high schools. Despite the quake, I was still so happy to be in Japan. I think for about the first six months, I woke up everyday thinking, ‘I can’t believe I’m actually here!’. After two great years in Nagoya, I decided it was time to move on and reach for my goal to live in Tokyo! I successfully applied for a job as an English conversation teacher at a private high school, where I’ve been working since March 2013.
Moving to Tokyo marked such a huge milestone in my life that I was inspired to start my blog, Celia in Tokyo. I wanted to have a place to share photos that I take and stories I have to tell about this crazy adventure. I’ve met some of the most kind-hearted people here in Japan, and experienced some once-in-a-lifetime opportunities that I’ll never forget. I have a lot of love for this country!
I hope that my blog helps you to get to know the Japan I know and love – past the usual sushi, trumpet-playing robots and geisha – and possibly even inspire you to visit (or return to) Japan!
[Blog start: February 2013]
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