This article can also be found in the May 2018 issue of Queen Anne Living Magazine.
Although Kayako and Manu Sareen hail from entirely different parts of the globe, they managed to find their little piece of heaven when they moved to the Pacific Northwest.
The Sareen family has been living in Queen Anne for nearly five years now, but it took some time for them to settle down after living in a few different cities that didn’t quite feel like the right fit. Before moving to Seattle, the family lived in Dallas for two years, and in Minneapolis before that.
Kayako, who is originally from Osaka, Japan, came to the United States to attend graduate school in Minneapolis. She met Manu, who is from Delhi, India, while working for a corporation in Minneapolis in the international marketing department, which employed people from all over the world.
Nowadays Manu has his own business in downtown Seattle that helps brands and manufacturers build their ecommerce businesses. He has a business partner here in Seattle but also works with a team around the globe. As a retail expert, Manu worked for both ecommerce and brick-and-mortar retailers for over 20 years before starting his own business.
Kayako works as a professional freelance photographer. She started out photographing weddings, but eventually transitioned toward photographing food, which she felt was a better fit given her passion for cooking. She has her own studio where she styles, shoots and works on the post-production of beautiful images of food. She also volunteers her time as the photographer for the Queen Anne Chamber of Commerce, Queen Anne Farmers Market and American Red Cross.
Although Kayako had always had a passion for photography, she didn’t always feel that she had the option to pursue it. Art wasn’t really a socially acceptable career path in Japan, she explained, so she obtained a degree in business. “But, I couldn’t forget about starting my own business as a photographer,” she said after falling in love with working in the dark room in college.
When they’re not busy with their work schedules, the Sareen family enjoys going to the Farmers Market or going for bike rides around Queen Anne for the beautiful views. “We like to walk around and explore the neighborhood,” said Manu.
They’ve also developed many close friendships with other Queen Anne residents with whom they enjoy spending time. “Once you create a good support group then people take care of each other,” said Manu. “There are a lot of other transplants in Queen Anne,” said Kayako. “It helps grow more friendships.”
Kayako loves preparing home-cooked meals for the family, especially the traditional Japanese foods that she often had back home. Her favorite comfort food is miso soup.
However, whenever the family returns home to the US after traveling, the first thing they do is go out for burgers, she laughed.
Kayako tries to take her daughters, Mana and Hina, to Japan every year for two weeks to experience the Japanese school system, which is very different from schooling in the US. The girls are also Japanese citizens.
Mana and Hina are seven and ten years old, respectively. Hina likes playing soccer and her favorite subject in school is reading. “I like Seattle because it’s not too hot and not too cold,” she said. Mana enjoys reading and writing in school and loves to draw.
Family is incredibly important in both Indian and Japanese culture. One of the biggest differences between Japanese and American culture is that Japan is much more family-oriented and elders are much more respected there, Kayako explained. “I really appreciate Manu’s culture too because they’re very family-oriented,” she added. Manu’s parents come to visit from India every year.
The family has loved living in Queen Anne for a whole host of reasons. For starters, the small-town feel of the neighborhood often makes it easy to forget that you’re actually in the middle of a big city. “You get the best of both worlds,” said Manu. “You also meet a lot of people from different cultures here. It’s kind of cool to experience the melting pot.”
“I like the culture here,” said Kayako. “Moving to Seattle was like heaven for me.”