This week’s guest post comes from Felicity, an Australian JET living in Fukushima. She writes about her romance with a Japanese man.
Just before I got on a plane to Japan to join the JET Programme in July, 2012, my mother told me, “You won’t come back again now. You’ll marry a Japanese boy and live there forever.” I thought that was a bit of a weird thing to say, but perhaps my mother is a touch psychic, because here I am almost three years later, married and with no intention of going back to live in Australia.
We met on my second day in Japan, at a welcome party in Tokyo. Thing is, he doesn’t remember meeting me. He met so many other foreigners that day apparently it was difficult to tell us apart.
Subsequently, we met at various events in Fukushima, and we both dated other people before our love story truly began in December 2012. He was looking for someone to go to a music festival with. His favourite singer (Koda Kumi) and mine (SHINee) were both playing at the festival, so I decided to go. I had recently broken up with my boyfriend, and I’ll admit I was also interested in this enigmatic Japanese boy. He says he really started to notice me from that day.
At first, things moved slowly. My friend and I would often stay at his house on the other side of the prefecture on weekends and during winter vacation. For a while, we weren’t sure which one of us he liked. The three of us went to a local sightseeing spot the following March, he took hold of my frozen hands “to warm them” and held my hand all the way back to the car. We went on our first proper date two days later.
After taking so long to reach this point, things sped up. At the end of April, I went and helped at his family’s ramen shop for a work party. I had already met his father as a friend of his son, and I just sort of insinuated myself into the family. His family were more than used to having foreigners in the house, and were unsurprised when he started dating one. Some members of his family seemed relieved that he had finally found someone, which seemed to counteract any negativity I might otherwise have encountered. Fortunately, the fact I am a foreigner has never been an issue, and everyone was very welcoming.
April the following year, I dropped him off for a family event (a death anniversary ceremony where his extended family gathered from all over the country), his aunt got upset I didn’t stay and I was called back to participate. His cousin had just married, so at lunch, the pair stood up and he introduced his new wife to everyone. When they sat down, everyone turned to gaze at us. Apparently, we were next. Without warning, I was formally introduced to the whole family. We weren’t even engaged yet!
His aunt soon expressed concern things went so far and he hadn’t proposed yet, and made it her business to harass him (in place of his mother, who I unfortunately never got to meet). When was he going to propose?
Not long after, apparently. We went to another Koda Kumi concert and he had won front row seats. As we left, he was shaking. I thought it was because he had gotten to touch hands with his favourite singer. But outside, he suddenly handed me a piece of paper and got down on one knee, holding a ring. (This is a very un-Japanese way of proposing). The paper said, “Would you marry me? 結婚しよう!” I was so surprised! (And I thought he would never be able to surprise me). He had been secretly messaging my mother on Facebook for months, asking for permission and planning.
The past year has been a whirlwind of preparations. In March 2015, we went to Australia and he finally met my mother and family in person. His father and younger sister came, too. Once we got back, we took all the ridiculous paperwork to City Hall and registered our marriage.
I’m in the middle of the bureaucratic nightmare of legally changing my name, and our wedding will be held in September – a mix of Japanese and Australian traditions.
I know that it is not always so easy for families to accept someone from far away, or to accept a loved one moving far away. I’m truly grateful to have found not only the love of my life but also a fabulous family who have accepted me 100 percent.