✰ About Me

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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 Macchu Picchu, to New York City!

Home Sweet Home

From this…

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. 

Shinjuku

…to this.

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]


Email contact >> celiaintokyo@gmail.com


 

86 thoughts on “✰ About Me

  1. Hey, Cool blog! It’s always great to read about other people’s travelling experiences. On our website we normally publish stories and articles about hitch-hiking and travelling so if you any story you would like to be seen by a wider audience (with a link to your blog of course). This is how we do it: http://hitchhikershandbook.com/your-contributions/travel-stories/ Drop us a line if you are interested.
    Happy travels!

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  2. Glad I stumbled on your blog, my nephew lived in Japan for a short while -and he loved i!! Oh, and congrats on following through with your dream – wow – what an adventure! And what a great idea for a blog. :)

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  3. wow – three years – well that is quite a long time – relatively speaking I guess, but I spent on year In San Jose and it felt like ten in some ways – because I was connected and we just had such a great year – anyhow, I am looking forward to peeking in on your experiences via the ol’ blog – :)

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  4. Hi Celia, nice meeting you. I enjoy reading your blogs, especially your exciting experiences in Japan. I love your ESL stories the most. Well, I guess that’s a given – I am a TEFL Graduate student. Anyway, keep us posted and take care!

    pinay-emotion :)

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  5. Hi, re “I’ll go home one day,”.., as a “boy from a small QLD town” who taught & lived in Ogikubo for 7 years, 20 years ago, I love your blog. Now back in Oz with a 9 year old , 1/2 Japanese daughter , I wish we were still living in Japan. Just a thought , think long & hard about where your future lay, I wish I never left. Keep the blog going , it is the next best thing to being there for me. All the best.

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    • Hi there. Thank you for your sincere comment! Our backgrounds are quite similar and it’s actually very helpful to hear your advice. I’ve re-contracted for the new school year, but then after that I have to decide what I want to do. 7 years in Tokyo sounds like quite the adventure! What made you move back to Oz? What are the biggest factors that make Japan better in your opinion?

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      • Hi, I can see you have a passion for Japan so I shall spend some time on my reply for you.
        re ” what made me move back”,… like most things in Japan, it was complicated.
        One …. ( this probably will not impact you, I was unlucky here) , I was “despised” by my Japanese in-laws.( married after a 2 year , living apart !! , courtship in year 6 , not easy for a red blooded Ozzie boy but it was my show of respect to live apart, that meant meeting “Japanese style” a few hours here & there each week, didn’t make any diff ) All is heavenly now, thanks mostly to our beautiful daughter but she took 12 year to come along & the fact that I did not abandon my wife as is the expiration of gaijin husbands. Married 21 year now.
        Two …. I got “duped” financially by a Canadian gaijin “mate” & by the Health Insurance system , ended up loosing 1/2 years income.
        Three … I did not take holidays. At all. Just loved teaching so much. One trip to Oz in year 6 for our honeymoon.
        It all just built up & in my head home would fix it . My wife was keen on Oz too.
        Big mistake, I had a great job @ two schools which I miss terribly. LOVED teaching kids.
        Lessons to be learnt,…
        1- although probably the most trustworthy place on earth, still, keep your radar on.
        2- take breaks/holidays.
        And,… it may seem “bad” at the time & you think it is “better” in Oz, if you need to, just come back for a bit, then weight it up carefully.
        You will see, most gaijin go thru the same “stages”, I saw it is 99% of my friends, it is just human nature. Years 1~2 , your in heaven, treated like royalty , 3~4 is the comfort zone , you know the trains , you are accepted as ” normal” , 5~6 it gets a bit “humm ” & I just want to buy a meat pie !” & “what did sand feel like between my toes”.
        But , here I am 20 years later, missing Japan madly. We visit at least once a year to keep family happy & my daughters Nihongo & 文化. I /we would go back in a flash if I could get a job.
        re ” what make Japan better”..the depth of 文化, , culture, the trains, the people, the people , the work ethic ( I hate Ozzie work ethic , put down hard workers) , the 4 seasons, there is sooo much to do, did I mention the people, I even miss the TV ! the food, the way of life , just everything.
        Congrats on the licence, I drive a lot in Japan, love it, it is not that hard , in fact if you keep your “Japanese” mentality ON, i.e. be like a school of fish, swim together , not ” this is MY bit of road!” it is fine.

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        • I’ve read your reply a few times now just to make sure I got everything! I definitely know what you’re talking about with every point you made. I understand the challenges you must have faced from being in a biracial relationship – my parents are from different cultures, too. I think that mentality of your in-laws is very old-school and I hope the new generations in Japan can become more open-minded. So according to your theory, I’m in the ‘comfort stage’, and actually I definitely feel like I am! It’s easy to get into a niche here I think. Although, the meat pie cravings started in about year 2 ;) I went back home last year for the first time (in 3 years) and it was amazing to be back with family and in an English-speaking country! I feel like I can fit in easily in both countries, though. I will definitely consider all the great advice you have given me. Thank you very much. :)

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  6. YAY – we love meeting and supporting fellow Aussie bloggers :-) Japan is a wonderful country and we would LOVE to go back and visit some more one day! Look forward to reading about your experiences!

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    • Le and David… Yay!! And I wish there were more of us! Hope you get the chance to visit Japan again. It’s just one of those countries that never stops revealing itself. So many reasons to get sucked into the ‘Japan bubble’ hehe.

      Are you two in Oz now? Where’s next on the list? You remind me of my sister and her partner who have travelled around the world. So lovely. :) :)

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  7. I have a 10 year old, “half” [ as they unaffectedly call children of Japanese & another parentage in 日本語] & am interested in your views on how to best maintain her Japanese skills…?
    Her 1st language was 日本語 as her mother stayed home with her till she started school [ 6old]. My wife now works… [ Ozzie mortgage to pay off]
    We send her to a 3 hour, Saturday morning, Japan school & a public primary school, 4th grade & is doing well at both.
    Taking into consideration what I learnt from my years of teaching returnees & realising that “living it” is just as important as study, she has had 14 trips to 日本, usually 3-4 weeks , sometimes attending a local school.
    When at home , a fair bit of 日本語 TV [ Studio Ghibli , Doraemon , silly game shows,etc] & an equal mix of Japanese & Ozzie friends to play with.
    I would consider her 日本語 , verbally fluent , reading/ writing 2nd-3rd grade.
    However, …. she is 10 now & becoming her own woman ! :(
    So my ” it is your future ” pep talks are not having as much effect as before.
    1/ Any tips & tricks on maintaining her interest.
    2/ when is “too late” to have her live in Japan to attend school full time, i.e. she will just have too much to catch up, Kanji especially. [ we would move to Japan for her future ]
    Her dream is to be like you, :) .

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    • It sounds like you’re doing all the right things for her! She’s lucky to have such a great opportunity and her future will be bright for sure! I think the main thing with maintaining interest at that age is having friends her own age. Does she have cousins over here? Does she keep in touch with the friends she makes at school when she visits? If she has Japanese friends in Oz, then maybe they can have sleepovers or something. Another idea might be to get her into Japanese pop music. You can decide what’s appropriate, but kids here like AKB48, Arashi, Momoiro Cloverz, etc. As for when is ‘too late’ to live in Japan — that’s kinda hard to answer, but I would say generally before the end of primary school. By Grade 6, kids should know about 1000 kanji. I know of kids who have returned during junior high school, and they tell me how difficult it is to keep up. They learn A LOT of kanji in the 3 years of JHS. In terms of being able to fit in, of course it depends on the school, but I’ve noticed 6th graders (girls) really being clingy in their groups. Friendships are important and if your daughter starts at a new school, it might be tough to begin with.
      Hope this was of some help! Thanks for asking!!

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      • Very helpful, reinforces my assumptions. Although, [not being a girl] I had not considered the ” girls & groups” [ clicks!] thing, …. Fortunately she is VERY gregarious.
        Looking forward to your next post.

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  8. Hey there Newbie Spikey!
    (for your info, a Spikey is the term for folk who are part of the clan known to be followers of Uncle Spike :)

    Thank you… I really appreciate that as I for one, know how many interesting and entertaining blogs are out there.

    Blogging since June 2013, my aim is to deliver an eclectic offering of posts, from my ‘point n shoot’ attempts at basic photography, to the sharing of my travel adventures over the decades, as well as day to day happenings here on the farm. Oh, plus a few observations, opinions and lighter-hearted stuff thrown in for good measure.

    I normally keep to a couple of posts a day, maybe 3-4 at weekends if I have something special to share. But if you are at a loose end one day, maybe you’ll enjoy trawling through some of my older stuff too. I have added plenty of categories to help in said digging process.

    Thanks again and hope you have a great day…

    UNCLE SPIKE

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  9. I had the priviledge of visiting Toyko on business back some years ago, and upon exploring (via subway) by myself,came across Shinjuku, the picture at the top ot this post. Frankly, I had never heard of it before, and was awestruck as I emerged from underground. Looking forward to spending more time on your pages. M:-)

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    • Tokyo can really be intense can’t it! I think every visitor would be awestruck by Shinjuku in particular. Even after 2 years, I still find this city overwhelming sometimes!
      Thank you~

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  10. Hey Celia,

    My name is Joe Pinzone and I’m casting an international travel show about expats moving abroad. We’d love to film in Japan and wanted to know if you could help us find expats who have moved there within the last 15 months or have been there for 3-4 years, but recently moved into a new home. The show documents their move to a new country and will place the country in fabulous light. The contributors on the show would also receive monetary compensation if they are filmed. If you’d like more information, please give me a call at 212-231-7716 or skype me at joefromnyc. You can also email me at joepinzone@leopardusa.com. Looking forward to hearing from you.

    Joe Pinzone
    Casting Producer
    P: 212-231-7716
    Skype: Joefromnyc

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    • Hi Joe,
      Thanks for your email. I’ll get in touch with anyone I know who fits the criteria and pass on your details.
      Best of luck with your show.
      Celia

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  11. My dream is also to live in Japan and I’m gonna make it happen. <3 I know about that earthquake and I feel so sad about it and I heard until now it's not yet fully recovered. But anyway I'm so happy you made your dreams come true I hope someday it'll happen to me too <3 Nice blog btw!

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    • Hi Gheline :) It’s always great to meet another person who’s dream is to live in Japan. Yes, the earthquake/tsunami left a lot of devastation, but the country is recovering. You’ll make it here one day, just don’t give up! x

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  12. Hi Celia! I know I’l; enjoy reading your blog. Japan is on my “to-go” list and while I can’t go anytime soon, I love reading other people’s experiences about it. Happy Blogging! :)

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      • Hi Celia, thanks for following my blog on instagram though it isn’t so frequent. We should meet in Tokyo sometime (perhaps, a weekend?), over a coffee/tea and go explore some corners of the city with our cameras!

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  13. Hi Celia, nice to meet you. Japan is on our list, and has been for awhile. We may be headed there next summer – not sure yet. I look forward to exploring your blog, and learning more about Japan from someone who lives there.
    Thanks so much for following our blog. I hope you enjoy the stories of our journey. And don’t be a stranger – come on over and join the conversation.
    Cheers,
    Alison

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  14. Thanks so much for following Oh, the Places We See! So great to have found you because we want to follow you, too! Great photos and lively conversation. I’ve only been to Kyoto, Nara, and wherever Mikimoto pearls are shipped out! Chaperoned a group of 4 students through Panasonic – which is called Matshusita in Japan, I think. Best wishes to you for much success in traveling and writing. http://ohtheplaceswesee.com — Rusha

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    • Hi Rusha, so great to connect with you! :) I’m happy to hear you have spent some time in Japan. Kyoto is definitely a favourite for the majority of visitors as well as Japanese people. It’s different to Tokyo in so many ways but both are great cities in my opinion. Hope you can see more of the country in the future!
      Looking forward to reading your posts to come :)

      Liked by 1 person

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