[I Live in Japan] Interview Series of Foreigners Who Live in Japan – Ms. Marie
ReleaseMarch 23, 2022
Duration of Living in Japan: 9 years
Why you live in Japan: I have been fascinated by the culture for a long time.
What do you do in Japan?I work for a Japanese company specializing in European-style Weddings. My main work is about developing and marketing sweet products for one of the company’s bakeries. But I also perform various roles such as translator/interpreter, chief French liaison, event coordinator, and assisting the HR by finding talents to join the company.
Why did you want to be a part of this business in Japan?I joined this company because I could work very closely with France, and be the bridge between my home country and Japan.
What is the distinctive difference between your country and Japanese life?I would say that the work culture in Japan is tough. I don’t feel there is a work-life balance most of the time, at least in my company (laugh). Working is fun, but having free time and enjoying it, resting, going on vacation is also very important. I wish Japanese companies would understand that and give more time off to their employees, also when they are sick. Resting is important to have productive employees, so it is beneficial to both the company and the employees. I just feel like many Japanese people are too devoted to their company and sometimes forget about themselves.
What do you miss about your maternal country living in Japan?If I had to give one thing, it would probably be the warmness in people. I am saying this because I have been in Japan for a long time, but people’s interactions can be a bit “cold” and “robotic” sometimes. Don’t get me wrong, the services in Japan are fantastic, and I know Japanese people are proud of omotenashi, but it would be nice to feel some warmness more often.
What do you appreciate most about Japanese culture?I love the aesthetic and the minimalism in the Japanese culture because it is very delicate and elegant. This is true for the designs, the architecture, but also the food for instance. I also love kimono, onsen, omiyage gifts… But if there is something I really love, it’s probably the gourmet vacation or グルメ旅行. I love food, and I love to travel, so going on a small trip and trying so many local dishes is always an incredible experience.
Which places in Japan do you recommend that foreigners see?I won’t recommend you the basic places such as Tokyo, etc. but you should definitely check out Miyajima (or Nara for easier access) because you can interact with deers while visiting temples around or eating some Japanese street food.
The snow festival in Sapporo is also a nice experience. The snow architecture can measure 10 meters high and there are some illuminations at night, with yatai food stalls around where you can buy foods and drinks.
The area of Shiragawako – Gokayama is a nice place to experience how life used to be in Japan with the gassho-zukuri houses.
What parts of Japanese culture do you recommend that foreign people try to experience?I would like people to try onsen for example. You find onsen all over the world, but in Japan, as you must be naked it is quite an embarrassing and fun experience to have. I would definitely experience a tea ceremony, and I would walk around a matsuri if it is summer to try delicious food, maybe wearing a yukata for the occasion.
What are your favorite Japanese foods?I want to say sushi, but it might sound too basic. I have actually been a vegan for a few years now, so here is what I used to love, or what I actually still eat but as a vegan version: Unagi don (eel with rice) on which the eel is so tender, sweet sauce, and you can add an accent of sansho (Japanese pepper), it is an explosion of savors in the mouth. Also, sukiyaki or shabu-shabu, and mentaiko (spicy fish eggs) which is wonderful just on top of rice. Wagashi (Japanese sweets) is very different from all the sweets you can find in western countries – zunda sweets are amazing.
*This article was originally published on JapanUP! in November, 2021.
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