Coming To America: Yoko Looks Back At Her First Day In The US

Coming To America: Yoko Looks Back At Her First Day In The US

Yoko on Beacon St during the 1997 Boston Marathon

Yoko on Beacon St during the 1997 Boston Marathon

I arrived in March of 1997. Makoto Ozone picked me up at Logan Airport in Boston. It was a relief to see someone I knew after making the international flight from Japan all by myself. I had studied with Makoto prior to leaving Japan as well as his father Minoru Ozone. Makoto was already a well known musician and was living between NYC and Japan but he happened to be in Boston the day I was arriving. My initial impression was that Boston was such a pretty city with lots of very colorful houses, much different colors than Japan – they looked like cute doll houses to me. Makoto took me out for sushi on Newbury Street then dropped me off at the Hilton where I spent my first night in Boston, I went to sleep that night with great excitement and anticipation of what would happen in this new place.

The next day I checked out of the hotel and Makoto picked me up again and drove me to where I was going live – with a host family in Brookline in a big house with a lot of other exchange students also living there. I remember when he dropped me off I felt so lonely and sad and I was very nervous. He told me I’d be fine.

I met my host mother, who was very nice and was a big music fan. She was excited to have a Berklee piano student living at the house. We sat down and spoke English together and she asked me what percent I understood of what she was saying. I told her 50 percent but it was probably more like 30 percent!

Overlooking Boston, 1997

Overlooking Boston, 1997

I actually had to attend one semester at an English school before beginning Berklee. Since I was on a top scholarship, Berklee called me in Japan to see how my English was. I just remember answering “yes” and “no.” I thought I did pretty well but they thought it was best to study a little English before starting at Berklee. To be completely honest though, I really couldn’t speak English at all.

15 Responses

  1. Tracy Clark says:

    What you wrote was lovely, touching and funny! Boston is so glad to have you…I think you know that.
    Happy 4th of July.

  2. Yoko Miwa says:

    Thank you Tracy! Happy 4th of July to you too!

  3. Susan says:

    Hi Yoko,
    I thought you were nearly fluent when we met! I was so happy to have you stay with us, and so happy to see your progression over the years as I have been rooting for you from day one. You now belong to Boston-you may be Japanese, but we claim you as one of Boston’s great cultural treasures!

  4. Yoko Miwa says:

    Hi Susan,
    Thank you so much for the kind words! Thank you for rooting for me and also for being such a good host mother too, I have lots of fond memories from the time I spent at your house. Hope to see you soon!
    xoxo -Yoko

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