Susan Pompian

Susan PompianOccupation:
Time in Japan:
Eight years, back and forth

What do you do here?
I roam around exploring the streets, finding interesting things to write about.

Where are you from?
I live in Washington DC, but I was born in Chicago and raised in Los Angeles. I' spent most of my life traveling. I've spent time in about 60 countries. I was an international flight attendant and tour manager, and in my free time I would travel.

How do you manage your time between cities?
It depends on what's going on. I work for an advertising agency here on special projects, and when I'm not real busy I can go back to the States and do things I have to do there.

What brought you to Japan?
Destiny. When I was a little girl, about eight years old, my best friend was Japanese. She taught me many Japanese things and she always wore a kimono for Hallowe'en and always won the grand prize.

What do you like about Japan most?
I like the feeling that I have being here. When I walk through the streets, I feel such love for everything, especially late at night when I can walk the streets alone and know that I'm completely safe.

Do you think it's easier to be a foreigner in Japan?
Definitely. Because you don't have to abide by the same restrictions and yet you benefit from them. You get to live in a sane, civil society where people behave themselves and you know what to expect.

What do you dislike about Japan most?
Probably the frustrations that are involved in dealing with the bureaucracy and things like that. The rules are such that there's not a lot of flexibility.

What's the weirdest thing you've ever seen or experienced in Japan?
The time a few years ago when all those bands would play in the park near Harajuku. It was really like a freak show, in a fun way. People would come dressed in the most bizarre outfits. It was really delightful. I wish they'd start it up again.

If you could take one thing back from Japan to your native country, what would it be?
Memories. I think it's best to take memories. I have a lot of things already from Japan. My apartment in Washington is very influenced by the Japanese lifestyle. I have big screens, lanterns and waving cats.

Do you have a favorite place to eat or drink in Tokyo?
The Black Lion, the English pub in Meguro. It's really comfortable, friendly and easy to go by yourself. You can walk in at any time and people will talk to you.

Where would you like to be when the big one hits?
In the United States.

You have to spend the rest of your life trapped on the Yamanote line. You're allowed to take one book, one CD and one luxury item. What would they be?
The book would be either A Return To Love by Marianne Williamson or Conversations With God by Neale Donald Walsch. They are two recent, wonderful books. Whenever I have a question about anything, I can flip open either of these books, and the answer is right there. For the CD, I'd choose a compilation of my favorite Country music songs. I love Country music. Is a toothbrush a luxury? If not, then I'd take one of those massage sticks which can reach all the way down your back.

Susan Pompian is the author of Tokyo For Free, published by Kodansha at JY2400.

Susan Pompian spoke to Nigel Kendall

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