US Expat Living in Tokyo, Japan - Interviewing Aimee

Published: 21 May at 9 AM
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Filed: Interviews,Japan
An initial assignment of six months to a year for her husband’s work as an attorney has led to a decade of experiences in Japan for Aimee Weinstein and her family. They love traveling, eating, and exploring local culture. Aimee is a writer and writing professor who teaches at Temple University, Japan and is a contributor for the e-zine A Hopeful Sign at She also maintains a regular blog at TokyoWriter, where she fondly observes Tokyo life through the eyes of an American expat and writes about writing. Aimee still resides in Tokyo with her supportive husband and two beautiful children, where she continues to write and help others in their writing. Aimee's expat blog is called Aimee Weinstein, Tokyo Writer (see listing here)

Meet Aimee - US expat in Japan
Meet Aimee - US expat in Japan

Here's the interview with Aimee...

Where are you originally from?
I'm from the U.S. I grew up in Connecticut but moved to Tokyo from Washington DC, so that’s home for us.

In which country and city are you living now?
Now I live in Tokyo, Japan

How long have you lived here and how long are you planning to stay?
Our family has been in Tokyo for 8 of the last 10 years and we plan to stay until further notice! My husband is no longer on a contract, so we can be here as long as we like. Our daughter is very happy at Nishimachi International School and our son will start high school soon at the American School in Japan (ASIJ).

Why did you move and what do you do?
We moved for my husband's work as an attorney for a big American law firm, but I was lucky enough to find work as well. I'm a writing professor for Temple University. I teach Freshman composition and I love it – I feel like I’m preparing students for success for the rest of their academic careers. In addition I keep a blog, write for local English-language publications, wrote a book published two years ago about the local signage in English and I also have fiction pieces in a few places. I’ve cobbled together a writing life for myself here in Japan!

My son, Bailey, loves sleeping on tatami, wearing yukata, and pretending to be a Samurai warrior
My son, Bailey, loves sleeping on tatami, wearing yukata, and pretending to be a Samurai warrior
Did you bring family with you?
We have one son who is 13 and a daughter who is 10 with us here.

How did you find the transition to living in a foreign country?
The initial transition was tough with the kids because they were babies and we had to get used to everything and find everything - but all in all, it wasn't that bad. We were so excited to be here! The initial excitement wore off after about two months and we were a bit lonely, but then the kids started school, we met people and everything fell into place. It takes time – when transitioning, be kind to yourself. It takes time to make things work!

Was it easy making friends and meeting people; do you mainly socialise with other expats?
We mainly socialize with other expats - we met them through the kids schools and our work. We try with Japanese people, but the language barrier sometimes makes it difficult.

What are the best things to do in the area; anything to recommend to future expats?
We love experiencing Tokyo via restaurants and shopping malls. Those places have the best best best people-watching available, which is one of the best parts of Japan in general.

Every year I buy the little Japanese plums and make plum wine - umeshu.  It's easy and yummy!
Every year I buy the little Japanese plums and make plum wine - umeshu. It's easy and yummy!
What do you enjoy most about living here?
I love the food. All of the food.

How does the cost of living compare to home?
Everything is much more expensive here in Tokyo than at home.

What negatives, if any, are there to living here?
There are a few negatives - for example, few people speak English and the medical care is different than in the US. But beyond that and the long distance home, the positives override the negatives.

If you could pick one piece of advice to anyone moving here, what would it be?
Learn Japanese!

What has been the hardest aspect to your expat experience so far?
The toughest aspect of being in Tokyo is that as an American, getting home to see family and friends is expensive and long.

Sydney plays violin in a group of all Japanese kids
Sydney plays violin in a group of all Japanese kids
When you finally return home, how do you think you'll cope with repatriation?
We did try once and did a terrible job - we lasted two years in the US before returning to Japan. Next time we will work harder to integrate into our local society in the best way we know how. We will do things our way and not listen to friends and family on how and what we should be doing, not matter how well-meaning they might be!

What are your top 5 expat tips for anyone following in your footsteps?
  1. If your kids are young, throw them into Japanese school for the experience of it.
  2. Cut yourself some slack - it's tough to adjust!
  3. Meet locals as well as expats.
  4. Shop locally - not just in the international markets.
  5. Take advantage of what the country has to offer - see everything you can!

My daughter, Sydney, draws/writes beautiful kanji by this point!
My daughter, Sydney, draws/writes beautiful kanji by this point!
Tell us a bit about your own expat blog.
My blog, Tokyo Writer, is about both Japan and our Asian travels, as well as about writing. I teach writing as well as being a writer, so I see the world in terms of how I would describe it to others. I write about my kids and our life together, but I really do keep the focus on Japan and Asia.

How can you be contacted for further advice to future expats coming to your area?
You can contact me via the blog.

Aimee blogs at which we recommend a quick visit if you haven't been already. Aimee Weinstein, Tokyo Writer has an listing here so add a review if you like! If you appreciated this interview with Aimee, please also drop her a quick comment below.
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