Interview of a Jamaipanese – Sophia Sakaguchi


Teachenglishcaribbean is pleased to interview Jamaican Sophia Lawrence Sakaguchi, who is currently living in Japan with her family. We talk about her experiences and navigating the terrain of culture shock in Japan.

1. Where were you born and which community did you grow up?

I was born in Montego Bay, Jamaica but grew up in Glendevon.

2. Which college did you attend and what did you study?

I attended Northern Caribbean University and University College of the Caribbean where I studied Hospitality Management and Business Administration respectively.

3. Where are you living now and how did you get there?

I am living in Japan now but how I got there is another story. I was introduced to a Japanese guy by a respectable lady while I was in Jamaica. I wasn’t serious about him because I was seeing someone else at the time but he never left me alone. After that relationship failed, I decided to give him a try and amazingly it worked out! In time, we got married but I didn’t want to migrate yet so I delayed it for a year. The reason for delaying was that I didn’t know what to expect in Japan and my husband didn’t tell me anything about the way of life there. Eventually, I migrated and I found that it wasn’t so bad even though there was a lot of culture shock.

4. What is your job in Japan?

I am currently a stay at home Mom. Sometimes I teach small children at home  but because of my busy schedule it is hard to keep a full time job. I think I am ready for a full time job now though…

5. Are the Japanese culture and Jamaican culture similar?

No, they are not similar at all!  First of all, the living conditions are very different. Japanese people sleep on Futons; the toilet is different; there is no wearing of shoes in the house; and you have to use hot tubs every night. The Japanese are very honest, polite and purpose driven…I love the Winter when  the weather is really cold! Also, Christianity is not the main religion there… it is Buddhism, so there are not many churches and you mostly see shrines and temples.

6. What challenges did you experience living in Japan as a black woman?

Well, people  stare at me alot, and some don’t want to approach me.  Many will give me a blank stare, avoid eye contact and some even laugh at me!  A  few persons will say hi and try to hold  a conversation with me …. My in-laws treat me really well. At first, I was supsicious but then I realize that they are truly nice people. Later on I realized that Japanese are really shy people so not many will readily approach you easily.

7. Are there lots of Jamaicans living in Japan? What do they do there?

There are not a lot of Jamaicans living here. Some teach English in schools and some are married and living in Japan. I have invited some Jamaicans to teach English and quite a few have taken my offer.

8. Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?

I intend to find a good full time job preferably teaching English. I also want to ensure that my son gets the proper care that he needs.