A Japanese in New York


Hideo Watanabe is a Japanese architect. He is married, and they have a three-year-old son, Nobi. Hideo works for a company with offices in several countries. They live in one of Tokyo's suburbs, and Hideo does a lot of "commuting", travelling to and from work. Hideo and his wife Susie are open-minded, and they both like challenges and experiences. Here is how the young family gets a new address for a long period of time.


When his (1)   asked Hideo to work in his company's office in New York City, the young Japanese architect was excited. He told his wife he wanted this new assignment and she agreed that this would be a good experience for both of them. They found a tenant to rent their small house and packed their clothing and personal items for the two-year change of (2)  . With their three-year-old son, the Watanabes moved into a large apartment with many rooms, owned by his employer, in the Chelsea section of New York.

Unlike the people who work in the company's office in San Francisco, the Watanabes don't live in a mostly-Japanese (3)  . In San Francisco, the wives speak Japanese to each other and to the Japanese-American storekeepers, but in New York's Chelsea, people of all backgrounds, races and religions live in this very desirable neighborhood. Susie, Hideo's wife, has become more (4)   in English, and is a member of a cooperative nurseryschool, where Nobi, their son, has many friends. Hideo, too, deals with Americans daily and he speaks English well enough to use popular expressions and slang. In Japan, he was more formal when meeting with clients and the other people he worked with. But in America, he enjoys a (5)   way of doing business that would not be approved in Japan.

The company that hires Hideo does business in many countries, putting up buildings and selling them or renting them. The pay of the employees is (6)   to the level of the country where they work. Because of this, the Watanabes live on a much higher scale than in Japan. Their apartment is four times the size of their Japanese apartment, with more electrical appliances and higher (7)  . More kinds of food are available at local stores, at prices lower than in Japan. The Watanabes often hire a baby sitter and enjoy an evening at a good restaurant in New York, but in Japan, it is not easy for them to find someone to (8)   with Nobi. In their neighborhood in Japan, the restaurants are not of high quality. It doesn't feel like a special evening when they eat in these restaurants.

In Japan, Hideo takes a bus to the (9)   railroad, and then rides on the train into Tokyo. It takes more than three hours from the time he leaves his house until he arrives at work. The office opens for business at 8:30 am, but many company meetings start at 7:00 am. Hideo usually has to wake at 5:00 am, bathe and dress, and be at the bus stop by 5:45. He eats breakfast in the office, usually at a conference table with the members of his work (10)  , discussing the buildings they are working on. He never leaves work before 7:00 pm, and sits down to dinner with his wife at 9:30 or 10:00 pm. He (11)   sees Nobi on weekdays, because the young boy is asleep when he leaves and sleeping when he gets home.

In New York, Hideo can take a bus for a five-minute (12)   to work, or walk when the weather is nice. His office opens at 9:00 am, but he and the other workers meet for (13)   in the company's cafeteria at 8:00. He usually eats lunch at his desk, but may go out for lunch with a client. He eats an American lunch in the office but usually takes (14)   to one of the many good Japanese restaurants in New York. In Japan, he never takes clients out, because that is something done by the senior members of the company. And because the American workday ends at around 5:00 pm, Hideo usually leaves the office (15)   after 5:30. Nobi joins his parents at dinner and Hideo can play with him, bathe him and put him to bed. "That's usually the best part of my day," he says.

But not everything in New York is "better" for the (16)  . With their Japanese friends, they can relax and "be Japanese," but with Americans, they say they are aware of their (17)   differences and must adjust to them. Americans ask too many personal questions, they both agree, and, although they realize this is a way of making friendly (18)  , it makes them uncomfortable. In Japan they say they never talk about careers with (19)  , but in New York they are asked frequently about their future plans and if they want to (20)   to Japan.

They also are worried that Nobi will find it difficult to be like the other Japanese children when he (21)  . They speak to him in Japanese, but he has learned, through television and contact with the other children at the nursery school, to speak English like a New Yorker. Even at the age of three, he corrects Susie's pronunciation. Both parents are also unhappy because Nobi can't spend time with his (22)  , and they, too, would like to see their parents. Because the assignment is for two years, the company will not pay for a (23)   trip to Japan, so they will have to wait until Hideo is called back to Japan.

Hideo thinks their lifestyle is very good, and will be sorry when they return to Japan. Susie agrees that they have a comfortable way of life, but she (24)   the Japanese culture and the friends they have at home.