While most kids are getting nervous about college or new boyfriends, Naomi Takaoka has other, bigger things to worry about…like moving to the United States from Japan.
Moving the summer after her junior year, the current CHS senior left everything she knew behind, including her friends, school and parents. The day was April 24, in Yokohama, Japan, as Takaoka boarded an airplane alone and awaited her new life in America.
Her friends in Japan still miss her and think highly of Takaoka.
“Once you get past the initial shyness, Naomi is one of the funniest people you will ever meet,” Yuji Oyama says. “She is what you would imagine all Cali girls to be, but at the same time completely different. I sometimes forget that she is only 17 because she is very [mature].”
Takaoka’s mother, Mary, teaches ESL back in Japan, and her father, Tsuyoshi, is a sales marketer. She has two older sisters, Monika who is 20 and Erika who is 22. One big challenge she faces daily is the fact that she doesn’t have her parents here with her, although she tries to talk to them at least twice a week.
She is currently living with her cousin, Elizabeth; her cousin’s husband, David; and their daughter, James.
“It wasn’t hard leaving,” Takaoka says. “The hardest part was saying bye to my dad.”
In Japan, Naomi attended a private Christian school called Hallelujah International Christian School. It had grades K-12, although it only had 40 kids in the whole school. She never played sports in school, because the school wasn’t big enough to have any sports teams.
She prefers CHS to her last school and notes that the educational system and the teachers are helpful, and they want to help you succeed. Her favorite teacher is Nora Ward.
“The relationship between everyone is so different between both schools,” Takaoka says. “Here, not everyone is friends with each other. At my old school everyone was friends with everyone from different grades.”
Naomi misses a lot of things about Japan, ranging from food to safety.
“I felt safe and like I could do anything,” Takaoka says. “There were no drunk drivers and you could come home late. There were no creepers, but I miss the cleanliness most of all.”
Her new friends here at CHS have only positive things to say about Takaoka.
“Naomi is a very great and bubbly person,” senior Ariel Hopkins says. “I feel like I can talk to her about anything without judgment, and we have developed a very good friendship.”
Naomi’s favorite thing about moving is the new challenges that she faces each day.
Takaoka came to live in the U.S. for residency to attend colleges here for in-state tuition. She loves the small town of Carmel because the general vibe it gives off.
“Everything is slow paced and everyone is so friendly,” Takaoka says. “Nothing is rushed.”