May 8, 2019
Being a mom in Japan. Interview with Aya Murayama
Since last month The Birth Poster launched a Japanese website, we decided that it is the perfect time to talk to a mom that lives and raises her kid in Japan. Thanks to our friends from THE kids CONCEPT STORE in Tokyo, we got in touch with Aya, who is also a popular author of books on nutrition and food (over 90,000 copies sold in Japan, Korea, China and Taiwan). Aya’s interest in diet started with her own health problems. Today, she is coaching others on how to introduce healthy changes in their lives and frequently appears in Japanese media, while at the same time raising a little girl and preparing to become a mom for the second time.
Could you tell us a bit about yourself?
I live in Tokyo. I have a daughter who is now two years old. I work as a nutritionist for athletes and a vegetable sommelier. I am currently pregnant and am expecting my second baby in June. In August I plan to start a food education program for kids.
You seem to have a very active professional life, you have published five (if I am not mistaken!) books. How do you combine it with motherhood?
I also take care of my child while working. That way, I can combine my work with child rearing. For example, I cook together with my daughter. I also take her to the field and harvest vegetables.
As a mother and nutritionist – would you have any tips on what to do with a fussy eater? A lot of moms struggle to make their kids eat more varied food.
I practice taste education. Children are interested in what they harvest and cook by themselves. Therefore it is important to engage them in preparing the meals. Let them break the eggs, help with baking, etc. Nowadays, most foods are soft, so the kids are not aware of biting and texture. You can attract their interest by devising the size, seasoning, appearance, and arrangement on the plate.
The taste that children learn by the age of three is important. I prepare my daughter’s favorite seasonings and dishes. I pickle vegetables because she likes pickling.
It is also important to choose dishes that are the same as in their school and easy to eat from. I use Elsa Beskow’s [a Swedish author and illustrator of children’s books, who lived 1874-1953] dish set, since it is very easy to use.
Do you see any differences in raising kids nowadays as opposed to when you were a kid yourself?
I think we are lacking in gratitude because everything is easily available. Some people don’t know the producer or the manufacturing method because everything is distributed as a ready-to-use product. It requires knowledge and the “ability to choose”. We should know from where the good comes from. We need to feel thankful.
Do you or people in general also keep the Japanese traditional minimalism in the kids’ rooms? Has Marie Kondo also encouraged total cleanse there? Or when it comes to kids’ rooms everything goes?
Some people like the minimalistic approach, but many do not practice minimalism.
Children will be able to organize their rooms as they grow. I think it is important for parents to develop a habit in their children of being responsible for organizing their space.
I wrote a book about refrigerator arrangement for health. I studied a lot of examples. By giving up some of the contents of the refrigerator, we can re-evaluate our diet, eliminate food waste and become more healthy.
I think that even if many people keep their apartments tidy, clean them regularly, there aren’t many people who are careful when it comes to the refrigerator. Yet, it is important for your health. What you eat, makes your body. Our refrigerator should be arranged as thoroughly as any room.
What do you think it is in the Scandinavian design that it is so well liked and popular in Japan?
I feel that Scandinavian design is familiar to Japan. I think that both countries have a tree culture (appreciation for woods) and four seasons and a common spirit.
And one last question. Could you give advice on cool places to spend time with kids in Tokyo? A lot of mums who travel will appreciate your recommendations!
For people who love nature I recommend: Komazawa Park, Arisugawa Park and Yoyogi Park.
Other museums to visit with kids would be: National Science Museum and National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation.
Kidzania is also great, buy you may need to make a reservation.
Interview by Mariko Fukuda, manager at THE kids CONCEPT STORE in Daikanyama, Tokyo.