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Actress Mari Yamamoto is what the Japanese call a kikokushijo (returnee) — a bilingual, bicultural Japanese national who spent some of her formative years living abroad. In Yamamoto’s case, the overseas upbringing was in London, where she and her family lived for three years between 1991 and ’94. Like many returnees, Yamamoto found it hard to adjust to life in Tokyo after she came back, at the age of 8.

“I came back as this kid who was opinionated and full of ideas — that didn’t go down very well in an ordinary Japanese school environment,” she says. “The result was that I had no friends. I went from having tons of friends in London to zero in Tokyo.”

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