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Naomi Arimura

English Teacher
Shoei Joshi Gakuin

Date of birth: Aug, 17, 1944

Hometown: Lyme Regis, Dorset and Tokyo

Number of years in Japan (cumulative): 46 (as of February 2019)

Naomi Arimura
Q1: What was your first encounter with Japan?

I met a Japanese classical musician in London. We were both staying temporarily in the London Music Club; I was rooming with an American flutist, he in the room next door with a couple of European youths. Three years later, we had married and come to Tokyo, and I began my new and present life.

Q2: Please state your motto in life and why you have chosen it.

“I don’t believe in shoganai (it can’t be helped).” I don’t give up easily and I believe we are the pilots of our ship through life. I have felt distressed when people say “shoganai” and surrender their power and their responsibility so easily. Life is our responsibility, our gift and our privilege.

Q3 : Over your career, what achievement are you the proudest of?

I am proud that after a fulfilling career at the BBC, I could change to a completely different role (when I was 18, I swore that of all things I would never be a teacher) and that I came to feel so happy and fulfilled. I’ve taught high school and university.

Q4 : What are your goals during your time in Japan, your current position or in life?

To enjoy my retirement as much as I have enjoyed my working life. I feel I span the world; one foot in England, one in Japan, and I love them both. I hope I can continue to travel from one to the other for as long as possible.

Q5 : What wisdom, advice or tips can you give to people living and working in Japan?

I would say, when you come to Japan you may go through a little of what I went through, (although life is much easier now) of thinking that everything you have learned and experienced up to that point is worthless in Japan. If you are anything like me (hopefully not) after the honeymoon period of loving Japan, you may feel threatened to your core and it may bring out the worst in you. Don’t worry. It may take a couple of years, but it will pass and you will be a different, humbler person. Just remember, our much-vaunted Western individualism actually isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Last updated: Feb 25, 2019