Saturday, April 4, 2015

Mamatomos Unite!

Just yesterday in the Japan Times I read yet another article on the perceived “low relational mobility” of the Japanese, or their limited willingness to develop new, authentic friendships, especially with foreigners. Truthfully, prior to my departure I didn’t have any preconceived notions about creating meaningful relationships in Japan. I didn’t concentrate on the idea of forming close friendships with Japanese people. At 41, why would I even need new friends?

Based on my experiences in Tokyo, low relational mobility couldn’t be farther from the truth. Yes, I am cognizant that I am a foreigner and as a result, I am the “other,” but through my academic work and my children, I have developed some deep and rewarding friendships that will last a lifetime. Perhaps it’s the trials of toddlerhood that bring vulnerable mothers together regardless of race or ethnicity, or it could be the bond some of us share as working mothers trying to find the elusive “balance.” Whatever it is that brought us together, I value the authentic friendships that I have formed with women in Tokyo. My mamatomos (a hybrid for Mother-Tomodachi) have hosted dinner parties on my behalf, researched and guided my family’s in-country travel destinations, had coffee and tea with my mother, and even assessed my kimono and obi (heaven forbid I didn’t have the socially acceptable kimono fit for a professor). Overall, I cherish the gift of friendship that these women have given me over the last 8 months and I will be heartbroken to leave them when we return to the US.    

Sakura season is breathtaking but painfully short, as it lasts only 7 to 10 days.

In this blog post, I want to acknowledge Fulbright Scholar Dr. Seth Feinberg, who offered invaluable survival strategies leading up to my family’s departure for Tokyo. From residency cards to national parks to lesson plans, Seth was instrumental in helping me navigate this experience. His wife Kelly’s customized pin drop map was genius, and likely saved me many hours of exasperation looking for a grocery store!

No comments:

Post a Comment