She said hotel quarantine was very different in Japan than in Australia.
“In Australia, governments take us to hotels for quarantine. In Japan we have to find a hotel by ourselves,” she said.
She described Japan’s COVID-19 outbreak as “very bad”.
“Last week Tokyo had 800 new cases just in one day,” she said.
“It is quite bad because they don’t have any lockdown.”
“Japan’s situation was very, very bad. Everyone was moving at that time. I thought if I went to the airport and take the plane it was very risky to get COVID,” Ms Kumagai said.
“I am fine to get COVID. But I don’t want to bring any virus to Japan, to my family.
To get to the town of Aomori on Japan’s most-northern tip of Honshu, she needs to take a train after flying into Tokyo.
The risk of catching COVID-19 was just too high, her family decided.
“I am the only child, so I decided to stay here,” she said.
Her family sold her unit in Tokyo during the COVID-19 crisis while she was in Australia so if she returns to Tokyo she will have to quarantine in a hotel for two weeks.
Her family – particularly her grandparents – insisted she stay safe in Australia because COVID-19 was not under control in Japan.
“They think that every other country is very bad. They don’t know that Queensland has no COVID,” she said on Wednesday before Queensland recorded two new cases on Christmas Eve.
“They don’t know that I don’t have to wear a mask in Queensland every day. They don’t understand that,” she said.
“Only my mum knows that. My grandparents and others just don’t understand even if tried to explain everything.”
She spent 2020 studying global communications, business and Indigenous studies at Queensland University of Technology as part of a 12-month exchange from her “home university” in Tokyo.
She has widened her business and communications studies in the past 12 months in Queensland.
She works in Botero House cafe in Adelaide Street in Brisbane’s CBD.
Now as Christmas dawns and New Year approaches, she really misses her both mum – whom she describes as her best friend – and her grandparents.
“I really, really wanted to see them all. But it really is just too risky they say,” she said.
Tony Moore is a senior reporter at the Brisbane Times