The first time I arrived in Japan I knew absolutely nothing about that country. In my whole life, I had met only two Japanese. Actually, I was traveling through Siberia. I had studied Russian and interviewed Soviet youth to hear what it was like to live in the cold and snowy spaces. Then I planned to continue to the United States. I had been an exchange student in Emporia, Kansas but thought I should learn some more. Between Siberia and the US was Japan.
When I arrived by boat to Yokohama, I was surprised to be met on the quay by a very small lady, who shouted:
"Miss Monica! Miss Monica!"
The painter Nobu Ota, one of the Japanese I had met, had asked the lady to meet me. The small lady only knew Japanese, and I didn't, so when she took me in a taxi towards Tokyo we were silent all the way. The taxi stopped at a first class hotel, where she let me off. I had very little money and soon moved out.
Then I took the train to Wakkanai on the northernmost tip of Hokkaido. I thought I would be the very first foreigner there. It turned out to house an American military base.
I stayed in Japan and skipped my trip to the US. I met my husband, a Finn. A long way to go to meet somebody from your neighboring country!
Together we have worked in Japan for altogether fifteen years. I have written many books about Japan, and a dissertation about American censorship of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I have probably written thousands of articles, done many radio programs, lectured and made exhibitions on different aspects of Japan. Our two children are from Japan.
Now I live in Sweden. I often miss Japan. Almost everything I work with is related to Japan. In 2010, my book about Japanese history, Trollsländans land (The country of dragonflies) was published in Sweden. Please see the link Trollsländans land (in Swedish). In 2013, was published Kvinnor i Japan under tusen år. Nio Porträtt (Women in Japan during a thousand years. 9 Portraits) and in 2014 My Tokyo. History and Culture (My Tokyo. History and Culture.)
In 2011, I was awarded the Order of the Rising Sun (here shown with Ambassador to Sweden Mr Watanabe and Mrs Watanabe) for my work in spreading knowledge about Japan in Sweden.