Name: Peiyun Cai Country: Taiwan Years in Japan: 2 Years What do you do at PayPay: Backend Engineer (UM team) Things you love about Japan: “Meeting many people from different countries, the fresh air, clean environment, warm toilets, great food (sushi is good and affordable), great nature (Fuji is so pretty), good clothes…”
Hi everyone! This is Antón bringing you a new volume of Around the world with PayPay! If you missed the previous ones, you can find all of them by clicking here. This time we have 2 new guests who will tell us in first person some stories and experiences about Japan especially under the WFA workstyle. Let me tell you a bit more about them!!
Name: Jason Rigby Country: Australia Years in Japan: 1 Year What do you do at PayPay: Backend Engineer (CLM team) Things you love about Japan: “My most favourite activity in Japan is visiting the various onsens and just taking time to relax. The winter in Hokkaido is especially cold compared to the rest of Japan, often dropping below -10C (14F) with lots of snow. It’s a very unique experience to sit outside in +40C (104F) water with snow falling. Oh, and this is completely naked, of course”
Especially during Covid 19 times, people need to find some support, friends and human interactions in order to protect our psychological well-being. Tell me how your relations with others can help you during this pandemic and being far from home.
Since I live in a share-house, most of my friends are also my roomates and even teammates. They are great friends of mine and come from different countries like the Philippines, United States, India, Japan, Indonesia, France… We help each other, share happiness and tears, watch movies, travel around and chill together. They are the people that I most rely on. If you have friends here, things will be less difficult. At first, it’s a bit hard to make friends and you need to have some luck but my advice is to never lose faith and with some effort, things will work out!
My social network back home is still a big part of my life and I do miss catching up face-to-face with my close friends. I think it’s important to keep strong ties to your communities back home as well as establishing new ones in Japan; there’s a little substitute to speaking freely with like-minded people back home to let off some steam. At the best of times, I believe this to be true, but especially so during the pandemic situation, it’s important to communicate openly.
Now let’s go with some very common topics, but we will never get tired of them. First: To a greater or lesser extent, there are different kinds of struggles that may happen during the first years in Japan. Could you mention any of your episodes having a hard time here?
Paperwork, paperwork, paperwork. Getting set up in Japan is probably the toughest part; opening a bank account, signing a least, signing a phone contract, registering at the ward office, and the list goes on. Depending on your Japanese skill level, this might be a walk in the park. However, oftentimes, dragging along a local friend will cure most of the headache, and where that is not possible, Google Translate is your friend. If you’re in a more populated city such as Tokyo, many staff will know enough of the keywords to ease you through.
The most difficult part is definitely the language and culture. Most of the Japanese people I know are very shy. So sometimes the communications are not clear for me and had some troubles. But after a while, when you meet more japanese people and talk about this matter with other foreigners you will adjust to it very naturally. Sometimes it’s actually cute!
And second: After some months being abroad, everyone has said once “I’d kill for a piece of…” What happens when you miss your local food or drinks?
I am from Taiwan, which is very close to Japan, so I can just go to some popular restaurants here in Yokohama Chinatown or cook by myself and enjoy real taiwanese products.
Sometimes it’s important to let go of some of the things taken for granted back home. In my case, I long for a whole grain loaf of bread, but I only ever find a small bag with five slices of sweet white bread in the supermarkets of Japan.! Also coffee… being from Melbourne, I suppose I’m a bit of a coffee snob. These days I will eat almost exclusively Japanese food (unagi/eel is a favorite of mine). With the future of the pandemic still largely uncertain, going out often is less of an option, but there’s no need to let that stop you from enjoying the cuisine. I highly suspect I have become one of Hokkaido’s most loyal Uber Eats customers. Daily communication can be difficult, especially in Hokkaido where the English-speaking population is fewer than in other regions of Japan. But so far I haven’t encountered an obstacle that I couldn’t overcome.
One thing that probably our readers have noticed is the fact that Jason is working from Hokkaido. At PayPay, we have implemented a WFA (Work from Anywhere at Anytime) policy and everyone could move to any location in Japan and work from there. How is working from home affecting you, Jason and Peiyun?
The PayPay WFA policy is something I have not heard of elsewhere in Japan and it has its good points and bad points. For one, I have been free to explore Hokkaido (which has a much lower cost-of-living compared to Tokyo), and I intend to branch out and see more of Japan once travel becomes less risky. On the flip side, we need to actively work to communicate and get to know each other within and between the various teams and this takes a lot more effort than in a traditional office setting. I think the company is still finding its way to make this policy as best as it can be, and it is definitely on the right track!
I started working at PayPay in September 2020, and due to COVID-19, we have been working from home most of time. This is a very open, flexible, easy to communicate environment where I can have great learning experience and love it at the same time. My teammates are very experienced and skillful engineers from different countries and very nice and flexible. Whenever I have difficulties, they are very open to communicate and give me advices. When doing great things, they will give you big thumbs up. When doing something not really good, they will let you know, so people can get better and have a chance to fix it.
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Author：Anton ／ Managing Editor : Az * Employees’ affiliations are those of the time of the interview.