“Kobe is a city that fits me perfectly,” says Roos van Borrendam, who is from the Netherlands. “It’s large enough to have interesting events but small enough for you to feel at home.”
A specialist in CSR and sustainability at Japanese sporting goods brand ASICS, Van Borrendam arrived in April, having previously worked at the company’s Amsterdam office. Her work in Japan has a global outlook: cutting back on the company’s energy use and greenhouse-gas emissions. It’s given her the chance to play a vital role in a ¥399bn business.
In the Netherlands, Van Borrendam and her husband lived in suburbia so they were keen to get a different experience in Japan. “We wanted to take this opportunity to live in the city centre where all the fun happens,” she says. They chose a flat that’s a short walk from Sannomiya Station, a major railway stop with restaurants and bars tucked beneath the elevated tracks. It’s also a convenient base for them to maintain their outdoor hobbies: swimming, trail running in the mountains and bike riding in the countryside. “It’s a fun location for friends and family who are visiting us,” she says.
LIFE IN JAPAN
Kobe is home to 1.5 million people but Van Borrendam is rarely overwhelmed. “Japanese cities are crowded but it still feels calm,” she says. One reason: the friendly residents. Plus, there are many places to unwind, such as the waterfront Meriken Park and the hiking trails of Mount Maya.
What was challenging about moving to Japan?
Finding the ingredients to cook familiar dishes. We used Google translate a lot to read the packaging labels.
How well has your husband adjusted?
He’s a runner and cyclist and has made friends through sport. He definitely enjoys living here.