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THE WAY of Life in Australia (EN)

Updated: Sep 19, 2023

Every month on WOMENCANFLY.CO’s blog series, The Way, we introduce inspirational women who live around the world.


This time, we meet Asuka Tashiro who currently lives in Sydney. She moved from Japan when her husband, a former soccer player, moved to Wollongong, a city one and a half hours south of Sydney. She has now been living in Sydney for seven years.


After moving to Sydney, Asuka began working for a local Japanese media company as a marketing and sales representative. She also writes a series of essays for a free Japanese-language newspaper that gets published in Sydney. In March 2023, the series reached its 60th installment.


Asuka usually shares her lifestyle, the growth of her three children, her thoughts and sometimes her concerns in her essays and social media. In this interview, we discuss her career, the struggles of raising children, the challenges she faced in Australia and the changing nature of her family and marriage in Sydney.



Building her confidence


After graduating from university, Asuka married her husband, a former Japanese national soccer player and for many years was a housewife. In 2021 she started her first corporate job, working for a Japanese media company in Sydney.


“When I got married, my husband told me he wanted me to focus on the household so I had never worked full time."


Since getting married, supporting her husband so that he could concentrate on his soccer career and raising her children were important roles that Asuka was entrusted with. However, Asuka was concerned about growing older without building a career so she started working as much as she could while still prioritising her family.


Her first role was working as a radio personality. Asuka had originally worked as a reporter as a student and was involved in radio production. Thinking that radio might be something she could do, she paid a visit to a radio station in Kashima City, Ibaraki Prefecture, where she had just gotten engaged and was living in at the time. She asked them directly if they could let her do radio and immediately received a yes.


“I was told that I could do whatever I wanted on the radio so I created a program that didn't conflict with other programs and featured Western music I liked. It was a small radio station, so I produced everything myself, from planning, composition, guest curation, recording, song curation and cueing as well as being a personality.”


After that, she continued to try other careers in teaching dance, modelling, writing and coaching and also made time to get certifications in yoga and food.


Just like how Asuka became a radio personality, she also seized the opportunity to write a series of essays. She went to the media herself and told them she could write essays.


“It's tough to write a monthly series but I'm grateful when I get feedback from readers so I do my best to keep going.”


Looking back on Asuka's career, some of her jobs like being a radio personality and essay writing were self-initiated while others like dance instructing and parent-child modelling were initiated by requests from companies or friends. What they all have in common is that Asuka had a go and felt accomplished in the end.


This is most likely because Asuka has grasped her own strengths and has branded them well through her essays and social media. As Asuka has continued to share her lifestyle, experiences and skills, it seems that she has been able to attract work that makes the most of her appeal.


Asuka felt that it was important to have absolutely no confidence at the beginning because it gets built on everyday by taking on challenges. Overtime, this eventually creates a strong sense of confidence which is even more rewarding because that’s where growth happens.



mother with kids
On a photoshoot with her children.


Moving to Australia in pursuit of a post-retirement career


2023 marks Asuka's seventh year living in Australia. For the first three years, she lived in Wollongong, the home town of her husband's soccer team, the Wollongong Wolves Football Club. Wollongong is a town rich in nature, beautiful beaches and tropical rainforests. There aren’t too many Japanese people who live there and the city is embraced by people who enjoy outdoor activities like surfing and cycling.


It was actually Asuka who initially proposed the idea for her husband to transfer to an overseas team.


“There are so many J-Leaguers in Japan. Many of whom become coaches or managers when they retire but I thought a default second career might not be enjoyable for my husband. If that became the case, we needed to differentiate ourselves from other players so I suggested that he try playing overseas."


After spending three years in Wollongong, they moved to Sydney with a second career in mind. When retirement became a reality, the couple decided to move to Sydney where there are many Japanese so that they could make better use of their Japanese origins.


However, no matter how much it was for building a second career, moving overseas with three children was a major decision.


“It was definitely difficult to move abroad but perhaps it was good that I was used to moving around. Soccer players move around a lot so I moved a lot. I moved more than 10 times, first to Kashima, then to Yamagata, back to Kashima and then to Kobe. I lived in the same house for a maximum of two years."


Every time Asuka moved, she had to leave a familiar home and city and adjust to life in a new place from scratch which was an arduous experience. It was precisely because she overcame these hardships many times though that she was able to choose to move abroad, knowing it would be difficult. When comparing the immediate stability she would gain from continuing to live in Japan to the excitement she would gain from moving abroad, the latter was more attractive.


Nevertheless, Asuka’s children always had a hard time saying goodbye to the friends they had made every time they moved. Seeing this, Asuka hopes that one day they will look back on their days in Australia as a good experience for them.


Now, her husband has started a second career by founding a soccer school in Sydney which is also an encouragement to Japanese soccer players. He decided to start his second career in Australia after much discussion. It’s a result of the family’s hard work up until today while they laugh, cry and continue to pursue their dreams.



at a soccer match with dad
Supporting dad at one of his matches.


It’s okay to not speak perfect English


One of the things Asuka has struggled with in Australia is English.


For example, when Asuka is at her children’s school event or picking them up from school and tries to talk to parents of their classmates, she is unable to take conversations further because her English isn’t fluent. Asuka knows that she should be proactive without worrying but it doesn't always go well. She thinks they may have sensed that she was feeling awkward and started to talk to her less and less.


Asuka is not the only one who has struggled with English.


Her oldest daughter transferred from a Japanese school to a local school in Australia when she was in fourth grade. When she first moved to Australia, she did not understand English and sometimes came home crying, saying that she could not keep up with classes.


Asuka listened to her daughter's day and encouraged her. To help her daughter enjoy her school life, she invited her classmates to her house for a birthday party and gave her an iPad so that she could devote herself to drawing which she loves to do.


Living in Australia, Asuka felt the frustration of not being able to speak English well and also the realisation that her world would expand if she could speak English. Asuka and her daughter were both desperate.


One of the things Asuka has struggled with in Australia is English.


For example, when Asuka is at her children’s school event or picking them up from school and tries to talk to parents of their classmates, she is unable to take conversations further because her English isn’t fluent. Asuka knows that she should be proactive without worrying but it doesn't always go well. She thinks they may have sensed that she was feeling awkward and started to talk to her less and less.


Asuka is not the only one who has struggled with English.


Her oldest daughter transferred from a Japanese school to a local school in Australia when she was in fourth grade. When she first moved to Australia, she did not understand English and sometimes came home crying, saying that she could not keep up with classes.


Asuka listened to her daughter's day and encouraged her. To help her daughter enjoy her school life, she invited her classmates to her house for a birthday party and gave her an iPad so that she could devote herself to drawing which she loves to do.


Living in Australia, Asuka felt the frustration of not being able to speak English well and also the realisation that her world would expand if she could speak English. Asuka and her daughter were both desperate.


“There are many non-native English speakers in Australia and when Asuka listens to their English, their grammar is often not perfect. However, they speak with a lot of confidence. Having grown up in Japan, I can't help but think that I have to use correct grammar but in the end, if it gets across, that;s good enough."


According to Asuka, the important things are the courage to ask questions when you don't understand something and a mindset of having fun. She also praises herself by saying, "You are doing a great job even though you don't understand English!


Her daughter who had cried so much quickly got used to school and became the centre of her class’ attention by the time she graduated from primary school. Along with her two younger sons, all three children now speak fluent English. The sight of her children now encourages Asuka to let go of any shyness and speak more and more English. Asuka feels encouraged by them.



Asuka's kids at school
It is amazing how adaptable children are.


The changing nature of Asuka’s marriage in Australia


While living in Sydney, Asuka and her husband have undergone many changes.


The biggest change is that her husband has become more involved in housework and childcare. Of course, retirement from playing soccer is the main reason but the co-parenting child-rearing environment in Sydney also seems to have had an impact.

There are so many families where the father is in charge of dropping the children off and picking them up from school. In Asuka’s family, her husband is in charge of picking up and dropping off our children and he also makes lunch for them once a week.


Another change is that her husband now takes her out to dinner. Asuka laughs and says, "I would have loved it if he had done that when I was younger," but she is grateful that she and her husband have more time together.


Asuka remembers a particular time when her children were still small. On that day, it was raining and she was taking her daughter to school with her younger son in a stroller. Asuka pushed the stroller with a rain cover with one hand and held an umbrella for her daughter with the other. Since both her hands were full, Asuka couldn’t hold an umbrella for herself and was soaking wet.


"At the time, I was desperate, thinking, I have to do everything. While walking in the rain, I started to cry. When I stopped at a traffic light, an elderly woman rubbed my back and said, “You're doing great.” I remember bursting into tears.”


Cooperation with her husband is essential for facing the challenges of living abroad. That is why being able to rely on her husband was probably the biggest and most important change for Asuka.



Asuka with her husband
Treasuring quality time with her husband

Asuka feels that people who live in Australia know how to enjoy life. They work hard on weekdays and rest well on weekends. They live their lives based on the idea that they have their own lifestyle first and then their work. As the saying goes, they know how to work hard and play hard.


"I have a habit of writing "Have a great weekend!" in my e-mails before the weekend and every time I read it, I think it's wonderful to see this kind of thoughtfulness and desire to enjoy the weekend."


Looking back on when Asuka was a housewife, she was so busy raising her children that she couldn’t work as much as she wanted to and was always wanting more. However, now that her oldest child is in high school, she feels that she is gradually approaching the goal of child-rearing and has begun to think about what she can do for them in her remaining time.


Asuka is now stopping and slowly thinking about what would make her more satisfied, content, and happy. Responding to demands is one way to make herself useful but she is sure that she will find something she is passionate about and pour her heart into it. Asuka continues to provide generous support to her husband and children but now, it’s her turn to shine.



Asuka at the Blue Mountains
At the Blue Mountains, a World Heritage Site. We look forward to seeing Asuka take on her next challenge.


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