Tanja foi minha colega do workshop da Magnum em Tóquio. No primeiro dia de aula, durante as apresentações, fiquei impressionada com o seu depoimento carregado de mágoas sobre a vida no Japão. "Eu sou uma holandesa", ela me disse, "e por isso a gente vai direto ao ponto". Uma semana depois eu estava em sua casa para fotografá-la no espaço que ela considera o único abrigo na Ásia. As respostas de Tanja estão inglês. Pelo menos aqui, ela não se sentirá perdida em tradução.
The best part of living in Japan is probably the high quality of life. It is a very safe and comfortable country to live. People are very polite and considered and the crime rate is very low. It makes daily life quite stress free.
The worst part about living in Japan for me is that fact that the language is hard to learn and even if you speak a little Japanese you will always be an outsider. As if the Japanese will never let you in. It is a very closed off culture and for me personally it is a bit too formal and stiff.
For me as a Dutch woman to live in Japan means that I always stand out, if only for my length and the color of my hair and white skin. You are different in a very homogenous country. I don't really find that easy. Furthermore I come from a very liberal and emancipated country which makes it hard for a woman because Japanese society is very traditional and old fashioned. There are not that many women in Japan who achieve high positions in the workforce and I believe a lot of women still stop working once they get married. I find that very hard to understand in the year 2017.
I have lived in Tokyo for 10 years and 15 years in Asia in total. I am ready to go back to my own roots in Europe, to family and friends but I also fear that it might not be so easy to fit into my own culture again. Living abroad changes you and somehow it is a bit addictive to live a life without any real feeling of belonging somewhere. That sense of freedom I am afraid to lose when I go back.
I think in China women are generally regarded more as equal then in Japan. The famous saying in China is "women hold half the sky", you can feel it and see it when you live there. I felt more connected to Chinese women with regard to the way they behave. As a Western European woman you don't feel so different with regard to women's positions in the workforce or in family life in China. Chinese men are doing their fair part at home and are far less traditional then Japanese men.
I will miss a lot of things when I move away from Japan. The food, the level of service, the Shinkansen trains, the soba noodles, Japanese food in general, the beautiful parks, the Japanese sense of style and biking around in the city.
I will feel a lot of melancholy after I have left Japan, I know myself and the have experienced the same thing with Amsterdam, a feeling of homesickness will always be part of leaving. Japan will always be a very special place for me and my family. For my children it will always be the country they have lived in for the longest part of their lives, it has formed them and they were educated in Japan. You can never forget that and I always keep a special feeling and place in my heart for this beautiful country.