Where is home, truly? Mika Tan and Yuki Takeda, a Singaporean-Japanese couple, talk to us over tea about the joys and struggles they face while building a home with each other and thriving in their cross-cultural marriage.
Yuki and Mika met as international students in the US, and in Mika’s words, the attraction happened fast. Following a brief period spent together, the two then had to endure an excruciating 6 years of long-distance romance before finally tying the knot and relocating to the Phillippines.
Yet, for all that both of them share – experience studying abroad, the Spanish language, and identical, bubbly smiles – there is a great deal that they don’t. Childhood memories, internet memes, and even Pokemon names are some of the things that are significantly different for each half of this duo. As one can imagine then, getting to the same frequency was no walk in the park, in spite of the love and affection that is evident between them.
Neither Mika nor Yuki started out with much knowledge of each other’s homelands either. Mika had taken Japanese classes in secondary school and spoke the language somewhat, but she did not know any more about Japan than the average Singaporean at that time. How about Yuki’s impression of Singapore then? As the professional whistler tells us, the average Japanese person’s impression of Singapore is a fine, chewing-gum-banning Merlion habitat that houses the world-famous Marina Bay Sands and Gardens by the Bay – very much in line with what Japanese channel NHK portrays it to be. However, he soon learned that there was much more to the multicultural city-state after getting to know Mika.
Acclimatizing took a turn for the literal when Yuki and Mika discovered that they had vastly differing temperature preferences. There were other intercultural hiccups as well. Yuki confides that he expected to have to communicate with Mika’s family in Chinese, but ended up learning Singlish from his in-laws instead. While karaoke is still not something the couple can fully enjoy together, the music-loving Yuki is enthusiastic about trying out Jay Chou songs – “put pinyin for me,” he laughs.
Nevertheless, Mika and Yuki persevered with their love despite all the stumbling blocks they encountered from dating to moving in together and getting married. Mika shares that they faced some difficulties handling their LDR and wedding planning because of their cross-cultural relationship, although their easygoing, open-minded personalities enabled them to sort out these problems eventually. It also helped that both were fiercely committed to being together, with Yuki making a career switch to join Mika in the Philippines.
Today, Yuki’s command of Singlish is a testament to how far the couple has come together.
At the end of the day, as Yuki puts it, both he and Mika have each brought with them their own metaphorical bags filled with culture, experiences, and memories to the home they’ve created together. This is precisely what makes their home a precious melting pot of cultures so dear to their hearts. Let’s wish this cheerful globetrotting couple all the best, wherever they choose to make their home next.
Yuki and Mika have relocated back to Tokyo and Singapore respectively for the time being, but the couple is set to reunite in Japan very soon!