Dear readers! I hope you had a great Golden Week but now it’s time to go back to work! This time I would like to introduce you 2 of our employees who are making a good use of our WFA policy . Every employee at PayPay has a different story, and with today’s guests I’m sure you will have a good time reading about their lifestyles while working with us! Of course, if you missed the previous volumes of Around the world, you can find all of them by clicking here. Let’s get started!
Country: China / Years in Japan: 2 Years / Location: Kagoshima
Things you love about Japan: “I feel that my personality has been greatly influenced by Japanese culture/thinking because I watched too much Anime since I was a child“
Country: Finland / Years in Japan: 6 Years / Location: Fukuoka
Things you love about Japan: “So far I have visited all west prefectures of Toyama/Gifu/Aichi reachable by car from Fukuoka, but my goal is to one day drive all the way to Hokkaido and come back“
I’m sure you have some interesting stories to tell us about your life here, but first, what was the reason or trigger to come to Japan?
I wanted to eat more authentic Japanese food, experience more about Japanese culture, make more Japanese friends… Also I love to travel around Japan, so after I graduated from university in Singapore, I was actively looking for jobs in Japan. And suddenly… I am here!
I visited Japan many times when I was younger, but it’s hard to pinpoint what exactly got me to return again. Here, there are definitely no limits to exploration and finding new things and places to photograph, which is a very large part of my travels, but I guess there is something in the reserved attitude of Japanese people that matches well the Finnish lifestyle. Only after I got married to my Japanese wife, and started thinking how we would raise our children we actually considered moving to Japan. We were living in the Netherlands at that time, and while definitely a very nice and comfortable place, having three cultures mixed in the same household was rather difficult, so we decided to give Japan a shot. And so far so good!
And instead of living in the big Tokyo, you decided to move to other areas further from the business heart of Japan. How is your life in those areas, Kagoshima and Fukuoka?
I am staying in the countryside of Kirishima in Kagoshima which is southeast part of Kyushu. Enjoying the onsen at home, mountain, volcano, river and sea. So far I have only met the people in PayPay face to face for one time only and I flied to Tokyo for that time. I used to stay in Yokohama but moved my house to Kirishima after I learned about the WFA and joined PayPay. The reason why I moved to Kirishima is that I really enjoy the peaceful life of the countryside in Japan. And another important reason is I that am helping my boyfriend to host a Airbnb Guesthouse in Kirishima. We have met a lot of amazing people from all over the world in the Guesthouse. Since we are a Japanese and Chinese international couple, we are also planning to provide food menu to our guests, it will be a mix of authentic Chinese food and Japanese food.
So far, we have done a handmade gyoza/spicy hot pot/takoyaki party with our guests! I appreciate from the bottom of my heart that PayPay could give me the opportunity of working from anywhere in Japan!
My life revolves around my family (wife and two elementary school children), which largely dictates how I spend my free time. It’s amazing where all the time goes when kids have a couple hobbies too, but it also makes coping with the social distancing easier. Without the pandemic ruining all plans, we would be visiting Finland every year or so to meet my relatives, but video calls are definitely making things easier to cope. My wife’s family lives not too far from our place, so normally we visit them much more often, but the pandemic has been taking a toll there too. Regarding work, I have had the chance to meet my fellow team members twice so far, and hopefully when the situation improves again we will be able to make it a monthly tradition to meet at the office. The open and low-barrier communication across all teams is helping in adjusting to the new work environment, but it’s not a complete substitute to meeting in person.
Anything that you miss or can’t find from your home country?
I miss spicy food! Sometimes I cook really spicy food by myself.
I have somehow managed to source most of the items, especially food, that I crave from back home, but perhaps the biggest constant struggle is to find proper bread. I miss just walking into the nearby supermarket and have a good selection of good breads, but it seems that most Japanese prefer the sweet, soft, fluffy kind… I want my bread dark, hard, and definitely not sweet! For Finns, sauna is probably the most important aspect of our culture, and while I love onsen, it’s not always a complete substitute for a real scorching-hot, extremely humid sauna. The typical sauna in Japan are dry and/or not hot, but just recently one local chain has established not one, but two (!) onsen facilities with an actual proper sauna.
Mention something, good or bad that surprised you about Japan when you came for the first time and still remains surprising.
The UI Layout. Many websites look very 90s, for example the bank system websites, shopping websites… Too much plain text and I often do not know where to find the button I want. I often wonder why Japan has so many excellent designers in various industries, but the average level of UI design in Japan has been left behind.
There seem to be an endless supply of interesting places to visit, from tiny onsen towns, temples and shrines, historical locations, traditional festivals, to the more famous tourist spots. I enjoy going on road trips with my family, whether just for the weekend to an onsen town somewhere nearby, or spending a couple weeks on the road stopping to a different place almost every night. Japan never stops surprising me!
Let’s go with some quick questions! What do you think about our WFA policy?
It’s the best!
It’s great! Not just being able to work remotely from home, and avoid the commute, but also having the chance to meet team members regularly in person, as well as using local WeWork facilities if a need arises.
When you got sick in Japan, were you able to find bilingual doctors?
Nope, but I would ask the doctor to write in Kanji if I don’t know the word (I read Kanji)
It’s been hit-and-miss. Doctors in big clinics downtown might be all-Japanese, while sometimes the ones in tiny clinics in the suburbs could be fluent in English. Everyone has been friendly and willing to overcome any language barriers, though.
Does Japan have an efficient transportation network?
They have a great network in Tokyo, but not in Kagoshima
Trains are fast and on time, but buses are not. Traffic congestion can be bad even in smaller towns, and the standard solution is to gaman, just persevere; it’s a great way to learn patience, I guess…
What’s your feeling about typhoons and earthquakes? Are they scary?
I’m not really scared… Since there are so many residents in Japan, I can live like they do.
The infrastructure is incredibly resilient against the “expected” disasters, and recovers fast.
So, overall, how is the experience living and working remotely far from Tokyo?
Wonderful! Enjoying the mountain and sea while I can get paid!
Fukuoka has the perfect balance of quiet life and big city services. I can live within a 30-minute walk distance from downtown, and still be just a 15-minute drive from the countryside, with very reasonable living expenses. The airport is right next to downtown, with very frequent connections to Haneda whenever I need to visit Tokyo.
That’s all for this volume of Around The World With PayPay. I hope you guys enjoyed it! With the coming of June, the weather will get warmer and warmer. We’ll be back with more stories!
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Author：Anton / Managing Editor : Az
* Employees’ affiliations are those of the time of the interview.