Home Was In The Wrong Place
Yasko Furuta, 50
Immigrated from Yokohama, Japan
"I felt like I was born in the wrong country. I felt like I was home."
No place to live, no family, no friends, no car, no job, nothing. Except for 2 suitcases, her baby and husband. Yasko tells me what it was like to feel excited to come to a new country she’s been thinking about since she was 12 years old. During her high school years in Japan, she felt like an outcast because of her physically tall stature and her thoughts were different than the people in that time and place. On the last day of high school, her exact thoughts were, “I’m out of here!!!”
In her second year at physical education college in Tokyo, she needed to apply for an internship and thought it was the perfect way to discover other countries. After an internship in the states for teaching sports was cancelled due to not having enough campers, Yasko got a new internship that she loved teaching Japanese- American kids sports at the YMCA in New York. After she graduated PE college in 1989, she contacted the director of the program and got an internship visa.
“When I stepped out of JFK Airport, I felt like I was born in the wrong country. I felt like I was home.” That’s when she felt like she wanted to live in the states, to root herself here for the rest of her life. It was a strange, uncontrollable feeling that just hit her as soon as she walked out of the airport. The feeling like she belonged here.
As 5’6” woman in Japan, she definitely stood out from the crowd. But looking from a bus to Manhattan, she realized, “Huh! I’m average!” A clear memory for her was just the feeling and experience of getting of the bus and walking down the streets and looking at all the people who she blended in with. She felt comfortable and secure.
Though Yasko actually immigrated from Japan to Los Angeles in 2005, the journey of getting to New York and the feeling of, “I- need- to- stay- here,” made her realize that her heart was not in Japan, it was in America.