Takumi Otani: a traveler among us


Maggie Craig

Traveling the globe. Freshman Takumi Otani looks at a map in wonder of where he’ll end up next. Considering all the places he has traveled already, his life is full of new adventures and discoveries.

The scorching Georgia heat greeted the passengers with its brilliant rays after the lengthy nine-hour flight. Many aboard the plane were coming back home after a vacation abroad. However, for Takumi Otani’s family, it was their first time entering the borders of the United States. Little did he know, he would spend the next six years living in the U.S., the longest he’s ever stayed in a country before. Prior to arriving in the United States, he lived in Japan for three years, England for four years, and Germany for two years. 

14-year-old Takumi Otani is currently a freshman at South Forsyth High School who is moving back to Japan in November. Otani has been traveling constantly ever since he was 3 due to sudden changes in his father’s occupation. For him, adjusting to life in different countries became the new norm, but now that he’s settled in the U.S. surrounded by his friends, he’s finding it hard to let go of the memories he has made over the years. 

Maggie Craig
Lunch with friends. Freshmen Takumi Otani and Katelyn Kwak enjoyed their meals at South’s dining hall. This time at lunch allowed Otani to relax with his friends throughout his busy schedule.

“Every country is sad when I leave. The people I leave behind—my friends and teachers—I certainly miss them.  And plus, I’ve lived here the most out of all the places. It’s especially sad to leave here,” reflects Otani. 

Not only is Otani finding it difficult saying goodbye, but he is also required to learn the Japanese curriculum before he returns, so he can be caught up with his classmates in Japan. Alongside American homework, Otani has to complete hours of Japanese homework as well, doing twice the amount of work every day after school. On Saturdays, he attends an eight-hour Japanese school to study their courses. When he gets back to Japan, he will be taking a mandatory exam to get into a high school in Japan. 

Maggie Craig
Doubling up on homework. Otani spends his time after school completing both American and Japanese school work. Though he struggled, it was required that he complete Japanese work so he would be on the same track as his other classmates.


“The hard thing is balancing high school classes and homework for both Japan and the U.S.,” he claims. “All the homework is taking a lot of my time. 

Though Otani’s time in South Forsyth High School is limited, he’s enjoyed plenty of what South has to offer. 

“I’ve never been to a school that has so many ethnicities and cultures blending together. In my opinion, American high schools are pretty fun. There are many football games that I can experience. I like being with friends, so that’s one of the big reasons I like going to the games. They don’t have football [in other countries],” Otani mentions. 

Maggie Craig
FlexTime fun. Takumi Otani along with freshmen Emily Yin, Katelyn Kwak, Angela Tan, and Matthew Song enjoyed their warm afternoon at the stadium during FlexTime. His friends are one of the most precious memories he will hold on to when he goes abroad.

He is glad that he had the privilege of attending South before leaving the United States. Something that will be different in Japan is the lack of sports events as well as clubs. Unfortunately, Takumi will not be staying in South long enough to invest himself into a club, but he hopes that his high school in Japan will have the diversity in clubs and community like SFHS. He is excited to return to his home country, but he will never leave behind the friendships he’s made and the lessons he’s learned from his years living in America. 

“I got to experience an American high school and that’s something that most people don’t get to experience. I’m very grateful for that,” said Otani. “It’s been a good six years here in the United States. I surely made memories that I’ll never forget in my lifetime. I’ll surely miss you guys.”