Friday, May 11, 2012

Click your Ruby Slippers

For those who have chosen to live thousands of miles, dollars and Sky Miles away from their native country (or at least family), I think we put a great deal of importance on creating an actual 'home' (as opposed to a place one just lives in). Am I off-track here?

However, this concept of 'home' brings up issues of guilt, particularly when speaking with parents and relatives. If I call my current living place 'home' I often feel as if this somehow equates to a rejection of my parents' home, which is why I wish there were a better translation for the concepts of 'jikka' and 'uchi'... ah well.

While I spend a great deal of my time at work, waltzing around the city and maintaining a decent social life, as an introvert I do relish my time alone. And I love my room, my personal lavender-scented haven. My sharemates (except Wave-chan), most of whom are from Kanto, put very little importance on decorating their space, usually just choosing a single-color scheme for the room. But they are never very far from that jikka, which one one hand might provide a greater feeling of stability, while on the other it could be that they consider their current living space secondary, since their 'real home' is so nearby .

When the owner of the house first saw my room (and it was not even completely decorated yet!), his eyes went wide and declared it 'hade' (garish). Admittedly this is coming from a man who decided beige was 'the' colour of choice for decorating! However, I can kinda see what he means.

My home is me, and is set to be the most relaxing environment possible. The walls are covered with postcards and pictures from my travels. The floor is graced by the most beautiful, tufty Persian carpet I have ever laid foot on. Here and there are antiques from my grandparents, next to my beloved koto. There are shades of blue, green, gold and cream, all set off by light wood.

The curtains, which alternately hide and frame the view of the garden, are a quirky black and white print, and I put a couple drops of lavender oil on them once a week, so the room smells like Provence (hopefully).

I would be curious to hear what other people think of this issue of 'home'!


  1. Home. Oh, dear. When I go to South Africa, I say I'm going home. When I return to Japan, I say I'm going home.

    Japan is now my permanent home, but I feel like a pretentious prig when I refer to SA as my "birth country". Thus is the fate of the immigrant.

    This Tokyo apartment, though, is very African thanks to a big Egyptian Bedouin kilim, two bronze lions from West-Africa and a collection of African plus kabuki masks. It works for me ...

    My personal opinion: you have to create your own nest, and it has to include colour and living things. Plants. Flowers. Perhaps it's an introvert thing? We need a sanctuary?

    PS: I love your place! ^^

  2. Yay another kilim fan! My mother is a Middle Eastern specialist, so I grew up in homes covered in carpets... I guess home is where my kilim is?

    I agree that we are in a rhetorically difficult situation... but hey, at least it is well-decorated(^ー^)ノ

  3. I love your space! I wonder how you brought all those things like antique boxes with you, did you have those shipped? I can't believe the house owner was so rude as to declare it "hade" right in front of you... I think it's gorgeous, I love all the colors and patterns.

    You didn't exactly say this, but I have a feeling that the families of those who choose to move and live far away in foreign-seeming countries like Japan first of all can't understand that choice, and second of all count down the days until you finally decide to "come home." Even if you declare it to be a non-temporary thing, they still hope you will change your mind and come home. So I agree that if you let it slip that you feel this is "home" it will wound them... since in their minds you are AWAY from your true home. It is hard when family members simply don't understand this choice.

    1. I have a feeling that the families of those who choose to move and live far away in foreign-seeming countries like Japan first of all can't understand that choice, and second of all count down the days until you finally decide to "come home."

      Yes. This exactly. I've lived in four different places in the United States, too, so I don't feel like I have one true home anymore. I never adjusted to the last place we moved (and where my parents still live), and don't feel fond about it. Kind of sad, but I've gotten used to it.

    2. Hello ladies!

      Madame Translator- I did indeed have a not of stuff shipped. I am here for a good long time, and there are a lot of things I want and need... like clothes in the right length... and indeed antique boxes.

      As for parents waiting for me to "come home", I am very fortunate not to have that issue. Due to their work and interests, both my parents went off to exotic places from a very young age. I myself lived in over 7 countries by the time I entered college. So, they are well-aware of the desire to live abroad. I think they are just glad I specialized in a country that is socially safe ;p

  4. i love the decor in your 'home'!! so welcoming and comforting!

  5. Making my new "home" as comfortable and enjoyable as possible is always my first and most extensive step when relocating to a new country. At this point in my life most of my must-have-take-everywhere personal decorations are fold-able fabric hangings, and IKEA smells like stability.

    That bedspread is utterly gorgeous, btw.

    ~Katharine, who finally remembered she has a blogspot blog, but now needs a profile pic

    1. Kat!
      Agreed with the fabrics, although I may have taken it to extremes with the not-terribly-foldable carpet. Also, yay for Ikea. My sofa bed, desk, chair and dresser are all from there, as is the plant ;p

  6. Heya,

    My room is almost completely unfurnished. There is the bottom half of a juvenile looking bunk bed and a table made by someone whose specialization was welding, not aesthetics. I've slowly been covering up the wall with egg cartons to try and reduce the enormous echo that results from my 20 foot ceilings. One could say though, this sort of barbarous utilitarianism is my style.

    But, then again, I don't feel like I'm particularly far from home, even though I am really, really far from home. Knowing when I go back gives me a sense of transience about the place that I'm in even as I spend more and more time here.