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Saturday, March 22, 2008

MIXED MATCHES

Life's a smooth cruise for modern Tanabata couple


Staff writer

The stars aligned for Miki Otsuka and Cameron Scholes on July 7, 1997, in a chance meeting at a record store in Toronto.

News photo
Cameron and Miki Scholes pose for a photo in Tokyo's Shibuya Ward on March 8. YOSHIAKI MIURA PHOTO

In modern Japan, the seventh day of the seventh month brings Tanabata, the star festival celebrating the once-a-year meeting of the legendary weaving princess Orihime (Vega) and the cowherd Hikoboshi (Altair).

But for Miki and Cameron, it marked the beginning of a long and happy time together.

Soon after their meeting, however, Miki, who is from Shizuoka Prefecture, had to return home at the end of her working holiday.

After corresponding for six months, the couple reunited in early 1998, when Cameron took Miki on a vacation to a beach resort in Barbados. It was there that they decided to get married. And in May of that year, they wed in Canada.

Since then, the couple have been living happily in Japan for about a decade. She is a waitress and he teaches English.

Where do you like to go out together?

Miki: We often go to the movies.

Cameron: Our biggest hobby together is probably planning and going on cruise ships to places like Mexico or the Caribbean. Ever since I took her on the maiden voyage of the Queen Mary 2, she's loved sailing on ships. In December, we went around Northern Europe on the maiden voyage of the Queen Victoria. And we also share a passion for frolicking on beaches and in the ocean. At home, we watch a lot of movies and play video games together, so we can save money for our next cruise. We have a Wii.

What do you like/dislike about your partner?

C: She is funny. She makes me laugh. I'm someone who likes to have fun and make people laugh, so I need somebody who's fun to be with. (Dislike) She doesn't like working out. Getting her to the gym is a problem. I am into fitness, but she is not aggressive about keeping fit.

M: Whenever there is a problem, even a tiny one, he tries to solve it, so he is very dependable. (Dislike) He is on the Internet all the time. Plus, he is unpredictable. I don't know what he will be doing even an hour later. For instance, he suddenly says, "Let's go out," even if we're not prepared at all.

What do you like about your partner's country?

C: I like most everything about Japan. It's very efficient and interesting. I think the best thing about Japan for me is the subculture: the people, fashion, music. I love "visual kei" bands. I would say I've seen more indie visual kei bands than any foreigner on the planet. In the past seven years, I've seen over 450 different bands.

M: People in Canada are very friendly, and the country has a lot of nature and things to do. Also, since all kinds of people are living there, the cultural diversity is very rich.

What are some good and bad things about having a partner from a different country?

C: It gives you a better understanding of another culture.

M: There is more verbal communication with each other. I think Japanese people generally don't really express their feelings in words. Also, I don't think many Japanese couples do things like kissing when leaving home for work.

C: Every day we wave goodbye to each other. Whoever goes to work earlier, the other comes outside and waves until they get to the end of a small winding path near our apartment. We've done this every day for 10 years.

C: (Bad things) You worry about whether they can adapt to your country and be able to adapt to another culture. That's a bit of a problem. And, can my partner work? Can she/he get a job in another culture?

M: (Bad thing) I don't know if this is an answer to the question, but driving in Canada is a little scary because the rules are different, and I am not used to having the steering wheel on the left.

What's the biggest difficulty with being together?

C: There isn't much. We get along really well. I can't think of anything except sometimes neither one of us is good at making decisions.

M: That's my character; I am not good at making decisions in general.

What keeps a marriage happy?

M: I think it is essential to know your partner well and accept him or her. He's always on the Internet, but I've kind of given up (on changing his habit) and accepted it.

C: The ability to make each other laugh. You have to be able to make your partner laugh. Also, always being physically close. Marriage is not just being together but being physically close as well. A lot of affection and sharing is very important.

What's the best way to make your partner laugh?

C: For us? We imitate each other. For instance, I'll say something and she'll imitate me. When we make bad excuses for things that we do, we imitate each other, verbally and physically. So we do a lot of imitating of each other to make fun of our mistakes, foolish decisions, etc.

Reader participation is invited for this series, which appears every other Saturday. If you wish to be featured, please e-mail hodobu@japantimes.co.jp


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