Where are you from? What brought you to
New to Findlay, the Kuretani family have been residents since January. Toshikazu, 44, and his wife, Kanae, 35, moved from Kasugai, Japan for his management role with American Fine Sinter, an automotive supplier in Tiffin. This is the Kuretanis second stay in the U.S. They lived in Tiffin from 2008 to 2012, and three of their children were born here— Hikari, 7, who is now a 1st-grader at Whittier Elementary; Yoshi, 5, a kindergarten student at Whittier; and Sarah, 4, who attends preschool. Their youngest daughter, Saki, 17 mos., was born in Japan.
Some differences between Findlay and home:
Kasugai, Japan is a city of about 350,000 people compared to Findlay’s 41,000. Life in Kasugai was more congested and faster paced, and Mrs. Kuretani noted she does not miss frequent traffic jams. Kasugai is nestled in the foothills of mountains and, as we know, Findlay…is not.
“I had been here before, but the first time I brought Kanae she wasn’t aware of the countryside,” Mr. Kuretani said, chuckling. “I tried to tell her it was like the movie ‘Field of Dreams,’ but she wasn’t familiar with it. She said she almost felt like she was kidnapped and in the middle of nowhere with the flat land and all of the corn.”
Especially for the kids, the Kuretanis appreciate the spacious lawns and comparatively larger homes available in Findlay. “The kids are enjoying seeing squirrels and nature,” Mr. Kuretani said.
Americans’ shopping style differs from what the Kuretanis are accustomed to in Japan. Supermarkets here are large, as are the carts, and when the Kuretanis shop they usually carry a basket. “People here have large refrigerators and store food for a long time,” Mr. Kuretani explained. “In Japan, we buy the amount we need for that day’s dinner, fresh vegetables or fish. We eat more fish than you do here. It tastes better fresh.”
While they enjoy Western food from time to time, the Kuretanis, shook their heads, smiled and laughed when I asked if they ever cook a burger on the grill. They prepare Japanese food at home and make a trip every few months to Tensuke Market in Columbus for specific supplies they can’t find here.
Favorite Findlay spots
When asked about their favorite places in Findlay, Mr. Kuretani was quick to mention the Flag City BalloonFest, which takes place at Emory Adams Park each year in August. “It is amazing for a date,” Mr. Kuretani said. “You can have a drink outside and see the balloons glow when it’s dark. It is really a sight to see.”
With the kids in tow, the family takes pleasure in the many parks in Findlay, especially Emory Adams, Riverside Park and Riverbend Recreation Area. They also get a kick out of driving near the University of Findlay Equestrian Center on County Road 201 to look for deer.
Meijer, the Kuretanis said, offers the best selection of Japanese vegetables, and they pick up fresh meat from Brinkman’s Country Corner or Miller’s Meats. Kanae likes to shop at Kohl’s. When dining out, they love Tony’s Restaurant & Pub, especially the barbeque ribs.
Continuing cultural traditions from home
The Kuretanis showed me their home display for Hinamatsuri, or Girls Day, which took place on March 3, in Japan. During Girls Day, parents celebrate daughters with a seven-tiered display of intricately painted and clothed dolls, flowers, and lamps (see display in photos), which is passed down from generation to generation. The parents pray for their daughter to have a bright future and celebrate with delicious treats.
Mr. Kuretani said they will also celebrate their son on Children’s Day, which used to be only Boys Day, on May 5. Instead of dolls, parents display samurai warriors to celebrate the health and growth of boys and girls. Streamers that look like carp or koi fish are flown to bring good fortune.
A cultural tradition you enjoy here
“Of course the kids love Halloween,” Mr. Kuretani said, smiling. The Kuretanis also enjoy Christmas as the family is Christian. In Japan, the most prominent religions are Shinto and Buddhism.
The Kuretanis believe it is important that their kids help around the house. “When my wife cooks, we always call the kids to come and get their plate,” Mr. Kuretani explained. “Then they take it back to the kitchen when they are finished to clean up. This makes them more independent.”
The kids are also taught to finish all of the food on their plate to develop appreciation for what they have – but portion sizes are much smaller than what is typical in the U.S.
Unique to many who come to Findlay from other countries, the Kuretanis are able to send their kids to a Japanese school in Toledo on Saturdays. “The children need to keep up with the Japanese education and maintain their cultural background,” Mr. Kuretani said. Managers of Japanese businesses are often sent to another country for three to five years then return home for about that long before possibly being transferred again. The Kuretanis don’t plan to stay permanently in the U.S., so it’s important the kids can step back into a Japanese education.Kanae attends a class called International Friends in Christ at Concordia Lutheran Church that is helpful to continue learning English, and they said their neighbors and acquaintances at school have been friendly.
Despite only living in Findlay for a few months, the family is adjusting nicely and looks forward to continued cultural exploration.