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[I Live in Japan] Interview Series of Foreigners Who Live in Japan – Ms. Vivian Wang

Culture

ReleaseMay 13, 2021

Vivian Wong
From Stockholm, Sweden

Occupation: Student
Duration of living in Japan: 1.5 Years
Why do you live in Japan? Because I wanted to experience the Japanese culture while learning the language.

Vivian Wong

Why do you like Japan?

Japanese people are so polite and well mannered, the culture is so different from rest of the world where it gives you the possibilities to do whatever you would like to do. I am also very impressed with how Japanese people would even
make the smallest things convenient for other people to use. For example, you could find things you use in the daily life in a 100 yen shop. Whenever I go there, my wallet is in danger, and it always takes at least one hour before I could leave the shop.

Vivian Wong

What do you miss about Sweden?

I miss dairy products in Sweden, such as milk, cheese, cream, and butter. I can’t really tell what the difference is between the flavors, but somehow the dairy products in Sweden taste more fresh.

What do you appreciate most about Japanese culture?

I really appreciate how well mannered the Japanese people are, for example, people would not rush into the train before the people have stepped out, and people would not cut into the queue. Their “queuing culture” is incredible. Also, people try to take up the least space possible to give others more space.

Vivian Wong

Which places in Japan do you recommend that foreigners see?

I recommend to travel and walk around the non-tourist spots in Tokyo. By going on the JR you could get far away from the busy city out to the landscape. You may find new interest spots, experience the beauty of the area, like the streets, the buildings or interesting shops, or maybe find delicious food where only Japanese people would go to but not the foreigners. I brought my friend to an Izakaya once, and they really appreciated it. They said that they probably would never have gone to an Izakaya themselves if I didn’t bring them there because there’s usually no English menu or English speaking staff available. If foreigners find the chance to have some local people or a friend who can speak Japanese, they should really try out Izakayas.

Vivian Wong

Any recommendations on what foreign people should try to experience?

Visit shrines and write down their wishes or prayers on “ema”, the small wooden plaques.

Any bizarre or unique experiences?

I think the elderly in Japan are very kind and cute, and speaking in Japanese makes them even cuter in a way. Some will look at you with a smile, some others will also speak with you. In Sweden, the elder people doesn’t give that friendly feeling as you see them, but you start speaking with them they are very nice. Next, I find it quite bizarre that you could find a lot of Japanese people sleeping everywhere, even on the ground. But whether they have fallen to the ground because of exhaustion or from drunkenness or even illness, you never know. In Sweden, if people see someone lying on the ground they would definitely help the person, but Japanese people would just ignore and pass by the person lying on the ground.

Vivian Wong

What are your favorite Japanese food?

There’s a lot! But my most favorite ones would be tonkatsu and sushi. There aren’t many options for sushi in Sweden like there are in Japan. Sweden’s luxury version of sushi is the same as the cheaper ones in kaiten sushi in Japan.

Would you like to continue to live in Japan for the rest of your life?

I would like to stay in Japan for another couple of years only if I could find a job as a biomedical laboratory scientist, which was what I was working with in Sweden before I came to Japan. But as it seems difficult to find a job because of not being fluent with the Japanese language, I decided to return to Sweden after I graduate from the Japanese Language School and continue with the previous work I had before I came to Japan.

Vivian Wong

*This article was originally published on JapanUP! in July, 2020.


About JapanUP! Magazine
Established in 2007. Informational magazine distributed in Los Angeles and Chicago with over 50,000 copies published every month. Information and advertisements on Japanese cuisine, culture, tourism, and more in English for anyone interested in Japan.