Yoko Miwa

From the blog

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 comments

  1. 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!
    xoxSusan

  2. 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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