My first Amsterdam experience was on 5 July 1988. I had been backpacking through Europe and Amsterdam was the first city on the list. I hired a bike. The weather was great and the buildings beautiful. If the weather had been bad, I might have felt a little differently. But on that day, it was perfect.
A year later I came to Delft to study architecture. I found Delft to be much too much of a student town. When you think of Holland, Amsterdam immediately springs to mind and that’s where I wanted to live. Personally, living in Amsterdam is like living on another planet. I was surprised each and every day. And it was also surprising because Amsterdam is so small. In terms of city planning, it’s very clearly set out.
I settled in Amsterdam in 1992 when I came here to work as an architect. Since then I have become more of an Amsterdammer, but I still can’t talk about personal things like they do. I find it hard to share my feelings with others. My parents are from another generation and were complete workaholics. I wasn’t raised the same way as children are here. There were no evening meals together and three week’s camping every summer. I am more used to a solitary life and was raised by the schooling system in Japan.
My partner, Felix, has two children and by seeing how he raises them I can see how the contact between parent and child works here. Everything is spoken about openly. We took them to Japan quite early on and my parents saw how different the relationship was between Felix and his children than the relationship we have. This led to an exceptionally personal conversation between me and my father about my and my brother’s upbringing. So I ended up bring my culture shock home with me. My brother thinks it’s great to hang out with Felix and his kids. They are like an extension of my family.
I’ve lived the past 3 years in IJburg, but I see Nieuwmarkt as my home. That’s where I lived and worked for the first four years I was here. It’s much to busy there now, but if you walk there in the early morning it’s beautiful. I love its messy character.
I think there are too many tourists in Amsterdam. What does the city want to do with them all? What is its goal? The city is for living in, and tourists just make the centre a commercial space. The entire city is sold to tourists as a kind of Disneyland. Amsterdam should ask itself what the inhabitants get in return. This isn’t an easy question to answer, and is a major point of discussion for the 21st century.”
1298 people in Amsterdam have the Japanese nationality