Newcomers: Meet the Wilsons

By on June 1, 2008


Bob and Julie Wilson arrived in Tokyo late last year from the Boston area, along with their daughters, Rachel and Emily, aged 6 and 3. TF’s TAMMY LEE interviewed them in their home in Roppongi Hills about how they are adjusting to their new life.

What brings you to Tokyo, and is this your first time here?

Bob: This is my first job assignment in Japan.  I am a general manager for the Japanese office of W. R. Grace, an American construction chemicals company. I’ve been here many times- for business, and I attended high school in Okinawa in the ‘80s.  This is the first time to Japan, however, for my wife and kids.

How has the transition been for your family?

Bob: It was a little difficult in that we went from living in a typical American suburb to living in a big city.

Julie: Everything was going well until our kids got sick from exposure to new viruses. We arrived just before the cold season began.

What are your nationalities?

Julie: Bob is half-Japanese, one-quarter English, and one-quarter Polish. I was born in South Korea but have lived in the US since I was a little child.  It’s funny that I’m now the same age as my mother was when she picked up her life and moved to the US, without any knowledge of English.

What is the best part of moving to Japan?

Emily: I like Robo Park (a playground in Roppongi Hills).

Rachel: I love all the noodle restaurants and museums here.  I don’t like taking airplanes, though. They make my ears pop for days.

Bob: The best part is definitely being able to experience Japanese food and culture firsthand.  I’m looking forward to lots of sight-seeing with my family.

What’s your family’s favorite restaurant?

Bob: We like the Kyushu ramen restaurant in Roppongi Hills called Tetsugama. You have the option of adding lots of garlic to your dishes.

Has being Asian been helpful to adjusting to life here?   

Bob: For dealing with customers, it is helpful that I’m half-Japanese but not helpful that I speak very little Japanese.

Julie: I speak no Japanese but understand Korean. There are a lot of Koreans here, but I have yet to meet one when I need help.  Someone told me that they assumed I was a Japanese-American who only spoke English.

What’s the most fun you had as a family since you arrived?

Emily: Hello Kitty Land!

Rachel: Seeing the dolphin show at the aquarium.

Bob: We got to finally meet a few relatives from my mom’s side.  They live in Kyushu.  It was nice to discover that we had a lot of things in common.

What do you miss the most from home?

Bob: All the snow. Also, our big backyard where I could barbeque and work on the garden for relaxation.

Julie: Lobsters and the Red Sox.  I miss my house, of course, and being so far away from family and friends.

What do you miss the least?

Julie: (Laughs) All the snow!  I do not miss those frigid temperatures in the winter or the ants in the summer.

Bob: American fast food.

The TF team welcomes all families newly assigned to Tokyo. E-mail us at:

About Tammy Lee