Angel Aihara, 30, had been working in Japan for three years when she met her husband, Yasutoyo. After getting married in 2014, she gave birth to their eldest, Kojirou, in January 2016 and became a stay-at-home mom, a tough decision that affected Angel mentally.
“Napagdesiyunan naming mag-asawa na ako ang mag-aalaga sa mga kids namin hanggang makapasok sila ng school. To be honest, naging depressed ako [kasi] hindi na ako makakapaghanap buhay at kikita tulad noon,” Angel explains in a Facebook Messenger interview with SmartParenting.com.ph.
Angel admits, however, that motherhood changed for the better. “Napakamahal ng cost of living dito kaya kailangan i-budget lahat ng pagkakagastusan,” she shares. “Natuto na rin akong maging simple. May pagka-waldas ako noong may sariling kinikita at wala pang obligasyon at responsibilidad.”
Angel coped with the demands of being a stay-at-home mom by following a strict daily routine with Kojirou. When he turned 7 months old, she noticed he was a deep sleeper. It gave her the idea to dress him up in different costumes for an impromptu photo shoot.
“Success ang paggawa ng daily schedule,” she shares. “Mahimbing talaga ang tulog niya at nabibihisan ko pa siya.” Her son also didn’t seem to mind what mom was doing. “Pagkagising, good mood pa rin siya, kaya kuha lang ako ng kuha ng photos.”
Yasutoyo was amused by his wife’s newfound hobby. “Ang unang reaksiyon niya ay ‘ano ang ginawa mo!’ Para bang krimen yung ginawa ko, haha!” she recalls. “Kapag uuwi siya ng bahay [and Angel shows him the photos] lagi niyang tanong kung paano ko nagagawang matiwasay ang photo shoots. I just tell him, ‘I follow our son’s cues.’”
When her second child, Kotarou, was born in March 2018, Angel wanted to continue the tradition of the impromptu shoots. Unfortunately, her son was the opposite of his kuya. “Maamoy lang niya ako or makarinig ng yabag ko, gigising na siya,” Angel shares.
Angel settled for DIY monthly milestone shoots instead. “Naghahanda ako para sa mga DIY shoot niya, mula sa damit, props, at kung saan ko siya kukuhaan. Pinapakain ko muna, pinagpapahinga saka pinapaliguan para fresh siya at mag-enjoy siya during the shoot,” Angel says.
Angel says the photos she takes of her kids bring her “good vibes,” and she wants to share it with others, especially to her relatives and friends back home. For now, though, it looks like she’ll be taking more photos of Kotarou instead of Kojirou during naptime.
That’s because Kojirou, who is now 3 years old, prefers sleeping over taking photos, “He’ll tell me, ‘Mama, it’s nap time, be quiet, okay.’ Sasawayin niya ako kapag nag-ingay ako!” exclaims Angel.
Living in Japan
Living in Japan is comfortable for the most part, but it was crucial for Angel to establish a routine because she is looking after two kids. The kids are usually awake at 8 a.m., and Angel would prepare their breakfast. Afterward, they head to a park nearby before going back home for a nap.
After lunch, Angel will play with her kids and give them a shower. “May sarili silang playroom sa bahay namin,” the mom shares. “Binabasahan at kinakantahan ko sila ng nursery rhymes in Tagalog, English, and Japanese. Nag-aaral rin sila ng Japanese, both oral and writing.”
The activities make sure they do an afternoon nap. Once they’re awake, Angel goes out with them and do her errands (if there are any). Afterward, it’s time for dinner, a little more playtime, and then bedtime at around 9 p.m.
Angel relishes the life she and her family have built in Japan. “Maganda at payak ang pamumuhay rito,” she says.
One of the things she loves is the people are so disciplined and the surroundings are always clean. “Wala kang halos makikitang basura at wala ring basurahan. Dinadala ng mga tao ang basura nila hanggang makauwi ng bahay,” she shares. “Disiplinado rin ang batas trapiko — walang bumubusina dito kahit emergency na!”
Safety is never an issue, although as a Pinay mom, Angel is still protective of her kids. She recalls one time when her husband lost track of Kojirou while inside the mall. She was so nervous about what could happen while her husband just laughed it off, saying, “He’ll be fine! He’ll come back.”
True enough, they found Kojirou at one of the kiddie rides and a concerned citizen even dropped a coin on it so Kojirou could enjoy the ride. “Kahit magtatakbo ang anak mo at biglang malingat ka sa paningin mo, hindi ka kakabahang napano na ang anak mo dahil may magsasauli pa sa’yo!” Angel says.
Hands-on Japanese parenting
Although they come from different countries and cultures, Angel is glad she can count on her husband to support her in raising the kids. “Marami rin siyang ginagawa kapag day off niya or kapag uuwi ng bahay pagkatapos ng trabaho. Nandiyan yung nagpapalit siya ng nappy, nagpapaligo, nagpapakain, nakikipaglaro, at kung anu-ano pa,” Angel shares.
Her husband is also pretty level-headed when it comes to letting their kids be kids, so Angel also learns from his parenting style. “Masyado siyang chill habang ako, o.a.,” she shares. “Halimbawa masugatan ang mga kids dahil sa kalikutan, siya nakukuhang magbiro at patawa-tawa pa, samantalang ako gusto ko na silang dalhin sa ospital kaagad.”
Angel is happy that her kids are learning the best values from both Japanese and Filipino cultures. “Si Kojirou marunong mag-po at opo and bless sa nakatatanda, lalo kapag Pinoy,” she notes. “Marunong na rin siyang mag-sabi ng thank you at sorry.”
And although she is not closing her doors at the thought of one day going back to the Philippines, they are happy and content with their life right now. “Gusto ko silang matutong maging Japanese, at matutunan rin ang kultura ng Japan. Ako naman bilang ina nila, hindi ko nakalilimutang ipaalala sa kanila kung paano maging Pilipino,” she says.
Want to know more about what it’s like raising Filipino kids in Japan? Click here.