Hi everyone! July is bringing us some holidays like “Umi no hi“, where we give thanks for the ocean’s bounty, and Health and Sports Day, which commemorates the opening of the 1964 Summer Olympics. This month especially with the 2020 Olympics around the corner I was thinking about a “Sports Special”, but I believe we are more interested in FOOD! This time, from Indonesia, the world’s largest island country, with lots of different sceneries from east to west, I bring you 3 of our Indonesian members who will tell us their experiences in the land of the rising sun. Of course, we will discover some culinary specialties from them too! As always, if you missed the previous volumes of Around the world, you can find all of them by clicking here. Let’s get started!
* The Japanese version of the article is also available.
Name: Kenrick Satrio Sahputra Country: Indonesia Years in Japan: 4 Years What do you do at PayPay: Backend engineer
Location: Kawasaki“Up until now, I really enjoyed Japan. The food is amazing, the culture is rich, people are friendly…“
Name: Na Felix Wimpy Wijaya
Years in Japan: 1 Year
What do you do at PayPay: Backend engineer
“One time I spent one night in a “Samurai house” which is owned by a real samurai. It is such a unique Japanese culture experience“
Name: William Surya Setiadi Country: Indonesia Years in Japan: 2 Years What do you do at PayPay: Backend engineer
Location: Kawasaki“I like public transportation in Japan because we don’t have a decent one in Indonesia. Here you can do something while you’re commuting (like reading, browsing) without having to stress over the traffic“
Indonesia is one of the emerging countries in the world and in Japan, its community keeps growing every year. What brought you to Japan and how did you find the place?
I wanted to challenge myself in an international working environment, and working in Japan has been my life goal for a long time. The reason why I chose Japan in particular, is because I like traveling. I used to travel to Japan several times in the past. Japan offers beautiful nature and very delicious food. Also, people are very kind and helpful to me.
I’ve always wanted to work abroad, to expose myself to as much perspective and cultural background as possible. Japan became a prominent choice for me because I have this view of Japanese being punctual, consistent, and detailed, honestly the aspects I needed to work on. And quite typically I like anime and I had always wanted to go to Japan for travel, but I thought: wouldn’t it be better to be able to stay and explore for a long time while getting paid?
In my case, I just love challenges. Like most people, working in foreign countries is a big challenge especially when you don’t speak their language, or at least it was for me when I came to Japan. I didn’t know Japanese at all when I first came and it was difficult to deal with paperwork. Luckily, I knew some of my Indonesian university friends who had already been working in Japan and they helped me settle down.
It’s always the paperwork! That actually helps me to link with the next topic, related to those small things that were a bit… too much when you arrived here. Anything that comes to your mind?
The first thing that stood out to me was trash separation. It was new to me and was both interesting and confusing (some plastics are not plastics). Not knowing the language when I came certainly did not help. But there are many other resources to learn this from. The most recent frustration for me is when I started searching for an apartment (I used to live in a share-house). The process is long, the initial fee is not wallet-friendly, and the listings are unfortunately somewhat limited for foreigners. Learning the language and being able to read and speak to some extent helped a lot in this matter. I also experienced a part of that infamous scene where a crowd gets pushed into a train car
I have very limited Japanese conversational skills. I can manage it for daily life, but for me, administration and phone calls are very difficult. Some institutions will have translators to help, but most of the time they don’t. But what I still admire about Japan, is that at least people are always trying to be helpful even with little to no knowledge of English. Mostly I utilize google translator for the conversation and it is a great tool to overcome this problem while improving my Japanese language skills.
Besides that, I’m sure you guys have got many amazing positive impressions and experiences, could you tell me the things you enjoy in Japan?
I love food hunting, and in this aspect, Japan is both a paradise and torture for me. There are too many wonderfully delicious options, and if you like snacks, better train yourself to diet before you come. Japan is also an absolute marvel for traveling, just be ready to walk, like really walk, but it’s always worth the effort. Finally, I sometimes go biking along the nearby river or just lie on the grass, enjoying the weather and scenery. This is something I did not get much chance to do back in my country.
Of course, traveling is always fun, but what about living? Living in Japan is pretty much everything I dreamed about. The streets are very clean, and the pedestrian walk is mostly wide and tidy so that it is easy and fun to walk around anywhere. It is enjoyable as long as it is not in the summer. By walking a lot I feel much healthier and can easily lose weight here. Since I can go almost anywhere using the train, it is very convenient because we don’t need to think about traffic jams and we can spend our time reading books or just chilling with our phones. Because the majority of people are using public transportation, the air is much cleaner even in big cities Also, I love Japanese food in general, and here, if I’m bored with Japanese food, I can find other food easily, like Chinese, Thai, Indian… Indonesian food is harder to find but it’s still within reach!
To share one of my interesting experiences, during the Japanese Bon festival in Summer, I learned how to do Japanese traditional dance in front of many people. I was studying Japanese in some volunteer class and my teacher invited me to participate in the Bon festival near that place. I didn’t know what to expect but it seemed fun so I registered myself. Little did I know, I was the only foreigner, we had to wear Yukata (Japanese traditional dress) and also dance in front of many people. I was surprised but I still kept going. We learned the traditional dance for hours and at night we performed on the Bon odori yagura – the central stage of the Bon festival. It was quite an embarrassing moment because I was not good at dancing, however, it was super fun.
Tell me something you really miss doing.
Before the pandemic happened, after the Ramadan season we always gathered and enjoyed Indonesian meals together. However, now we don’t have it. I miss Indonesian food, so from time to time I invite some friends and have a small home party and cook Indonesian food together, like Rendang or Soto Betawi.
Family, of course, especially my wife, since she cannot come to Japan due to the Japanese borders being closed. Another thing is, I really miss spicy food. Here in Japan, most of the food is not really spicy (even if they say that that it is ). And Japanese food is generally healthy. I miss many ‘unhealthy’ Indonesian food sometimes.
Of course, I miss my family, friends, and my dogs the most. I have not returned back home since I came, which was 2 years ago and I am not sure when I will be able to, given the current situation. I miss that sensation of familiarity (familiar city, society, familiar language, and billboards), and oh I do miss the food. Authentic, street-vendor martabak (Indonesian “pancake”) has been occupying my mind since the second week I got here
This is something that happens in every single culture: our stomach always comes first! Do you find some Indonesian food here?
Indonesian food here is not as prevalent as Indian, so we have limited options. But that has become somewhat of an opportunity for me to learn to cook Indonesian food with my friends. I would like to think we did not fail miserably. We cooked opor, soto, capcay, and rendang, sometimes with instant base seasonings, sometimes from scratch.
I need one of you to represent your community at PayPay for the closure of this volume. Felix, what would you say about PayPay’s diversity with our 40+ nationalities?
In PayPay, my colleagues are coming from many different countries and continents. It is like a melting pot of different cultures trying to create one product, but at the same time still preserving our own unique culture. Even my own team which has only 8 people consists of 6 different countries. In our coffee time, sometimes we do some cool or funny cultural exchange and I really love to learn about other people’s culture! On the other hand, I also have groups of Indonesian friends and usually, we go together for traveling, or just to try new foods and attractions.
Wow! This was a very intense volume with great people enjoying their job at PayPay in Japan. What I know for sure is that I will try to find some Indonesian food recipes and discover more about their culture. Next month, let’s discover another community! It will be already August and I didn’t buy my swimsuit yet! See you soon and enjoy the good weather!
See our currently available open position
Author：Anton ／ Managing Editor : Az
* Employees’ affiliations are those of the time of the interview.