A Global affair: Inside the home of an international mother living in Tokyo
The idea of raising a family thousands of miles from home in Tokyo may sound daunting – yet the Japanese capital is a city that is quick to both surprise and seduce. For beneath its mega-sized population and futuristic landscape, it is safe and calm, efficient and comfortable for families.
Kikoc, the elegant mother of two boys aged seven and two, has spent most of the past decade living in Tokyo, following stints in Zurich, New York and Paris.
It would be tricky finding a more international mother: Kikoc, who works at an agency that creates and produces commercial films, was born in Laos and raised in France while her husband just happens to be Swiss-German. But the one place they unwaveringly call home? Tokyo (for now at least).
Here, Kikoc opens the doors of their family home and shares her thoughts on life as an international mother in Tokyo.
What did you expect when you first arrived to Tokyo?
When we first moved here in 2008, I had no expectations and felt happy with what was given to me. A few years on, I feel the same way and I am still thrilled when I discover a street, a coffee shop or a restaurant. My appreciation for Tokyo grows as I hear, see and taste different things.
What do you enjoy most about living in Tokyo?
It’s a mega cluster of villages. I enjoy the city lifestyle but still feel like we live in a village within our neighbourhood. I ride my “mamachari” electric bicycle around the city and Tokyo is home to some of the best cafes in the world. Strangely, I only drink coffee in Japan. I also love having options for the weekends – stay in the city, or drive to nearby countryside, beaches or mountains.
What was the biggest surprise discovery about Tokyo?
Tokyo is one of the world’s biggest cities, yet it is one of the quietest too. The level of noise is controlled everywhere; from people laughing with their hand over their mouth, to the construction sites with special walls to absorb noise pollution. There aren’t even honking drivers in traffic jams! And the sirens of police, fire trucks and ambulances are barely noticeable. We used to wear earplugs at night in New York and Zurich.
How family-friendly is it?
Tokyo is the most family-friendly place I have ever lived. There are lifts for mothers to get in and out of train stations (in Paris it is nightmare with buggies). We don’t have to fold buggies on buses (unlike New York). Children can walk safely on their own to school and there are many options for rainy days such as kid-friendly museums and indoor theme parks.
As a creative, what inspires you in Tokyo?
I love observing Japanese people in the street – a habit I picked up living in Paris. I watch how people dress, how they move, how they act in public, observing their individuality in private but their conformity in public.
Finally, can you share three favourite family places?