Name: Manoj SakhalaCountry:IndiaYears in Japan:1.5+ YearsWhat do you do at PayPay:Tech Lead for Merchant Services
“I used to be a very lazy person, but after seeing how fit the locals are, It always motivates me to improve myself physically💪“
Name: Madhumita Chowdhury
Years in Japan: 3 Years
What do you do at PayPay:Senior Product Manager
“Can’t say much about my Japanese. I am still trying to learn. Conquering Mount Fuji is easier than learning Kanji 😅“
I have been recruiting for many years and I always felt that Indian candidates were often very attracted by Japan and its culture. There are currently more than 40,000 Indians living in Japan and your community keeps growing yearly. How was your arrival and what was the magic that made you stay here?
I came to Japan in Aug 2018 on a 3-month plan to launch PayPay and then go back to India. And 3yrs later I am still wondering what did Japan do to me 🙂.
As a foreigner coming to Japan, I guess I couldn’t wrap my head around how to live and do everything in a country that speaks an unknown language. I didn’t know how to use chopsticks. And I wasn’t familiar with the food.So basically I was coming to Tokyo to launch a new product without knowing the language or market or the culture or the food or how to eat. I believe food is the key to living and survival.But when I came to Japan, things were much different. We have an amazing interpretation team who helped at work. We were able to launch PayPay successfully after working hard. There were many Indian restaurants in Tokyo which I could easily visit while trying new Japanese food. And I learned how to use chopsticks. There are enough vegan food options also provided by restaurants, considering most of the Indians do not eat meat🥗.
Moving to Japan was one of the most important decisions of my life. I was leaving behind my comfortable life at that time, in order to pursue professional growth. The two things that I was most nervous about were language barriers and cultural differences 😓.The day I landed in Tokyo, I didn’t know how and where I could find an ATM to withdraw local Japanese currency. But thankfully PayPay got me covered, the person who came to pick me up helped me out a lot. Taking that trip from the airport to my apartment, I was astonished to look at the big infrastructure of the city and level and cleanliness. It may sound funny, but that was my first impression of being in Tokyo 😮.PayPay also arranged help for me to get all paperwork done smoothly. I can’t imagine going through all that with zero understanding of language. I came to Tokyo 2 weeks before my actual work started. I spent those 2 weeks exploring the city and getting familiar with life in Japan. Within a month, even though I was a foreigner, I could settle in very easily.
Arriving was the very first step, but now we need some roof. Is it really hard to find a place to live in Japan? What was your experience?
Living in Japan is easy even as a foreigner. When I was looking for a new house, HR was kind enough to help me out and provide support to complete all the necessary documents.It is actually very easy to live in Japan even if you don’t understand Japanese. And I am a living example of it. My Japanese is still poor, but I have a huge sense of understanding of people and culture now, which facilitates living here.In Japan, people are really kind and helpful. There is a massive sense of mindfulness of others whenever people are on the streets or in the train.
I was really nervous about finding a good apartment, moreover finding a place in Tokyo where a lot of Indian community resides. I came to know about some Facebook groups focusing on Indian people living in Japan and all those groups helped me not only find an apartment but also if I had any questions, I could freely ask and it would be answered 🙄.
I love living in a quiet environment and it was also my dream to be able to live near the sea. I consider myself very lucky to be able to find a perfect apartment that fulfills all my requirements. Being living in a ward full of Indian communities has its own advantages. I can find an Indian grocery store nearby, there are a lot of Indians living in the vicinity and there are some amazing Indian restaurants. Being an Indian, I think this is all we need 😁.
I wish I had a good Spanish restaurant close to my house! Or even Spanish speakers! That’s one of the things that I envy you the most, the power of your community in Japan. Is it helpful?
You will be surprised to know how big the Indo community is in Japan. Specially Nishi-Kasai (also known as Little India) is very famous for Indians. We celebrate all major festivals and share our culture with locals. Last year, due to Covid-19, most of the events were canceled, so I am still waiting to be able to celebrate alongside my Indian family here. If you are looking to work in Japan, I would say there is nothing to worry about. The Indo community is very wholesome and helpful. You would be able to adjust to Japanese life in no time.
And I guess our Indian community at PayPay are helpful too!
My colleagues at PayPay are my friends and family. I reached out to them for any support needed and they were always happy to help. Even when I did not have a bank account, I would request my colleagues to do a PayPay P2P and I would pay them back in cash later.Other than my favorite PayPay community there are many regions that are very densely occupied by Indians. This provides a lot of support for Indians who are looking out for communities. There are many local festivals also organized by the members.
Time to talk about some experiences in Japan, things you like to do or would recommend to someone.
I was not much of a traveler before, but now I have started taking interest in various activities. I started learning snowboarding which was something I never imagined myself doing. There are many things to do and places to visit in Japan that provide their own unique experiences.Japan provides magnificent and breathtaking views of all 4 seasons and it is one of a kind experience.
If you want to learn about a country, start being part of their life. It may be challenging at first, but you get to experience things that can make lifetime impressions. I had many such moments. I met some really kind people, who became life-long friends, I have experienced a variety of Japanese food, I have climbed Mt. Fuji, I have visited knee-dip snowy parts of Japan and went skiing on high slopes, and the list goes on…
I can see how powerful is Japan changing some of us! How living in Japan influenced you?
I have learned a lot. I have become more detail-oriented than I was before. I have started experimenting more with different cuisines. The best and one-of-a-kind experience is a nomikai. We haven’t had one in a very long time. We did not have this experience in India where colleagues and friends take out specific time to hang around and get to know each other and deepen their bond over food and drinks. I got to know so many amazing people at PayPay just through nomikai.
As a part of being physically fit, I developed a really good hobby of mountain climbing (yamanobori). After preparing for a year, I was finally able to achieve my dream to climb Mt. Fuji. That feeling of being on the highest peak of Japan cannot be expressed in words. Along with climbing, I also developed hobbies like photography, traveling, skiing, and cooking.
A place can change many things inside and outside ourselves, but there are parts that will remain the same and we will never forget. Like the following question, which I always ask to every participant on these series or like our roots. What do you miss the most?
My family is my support system and to be away from them for much longer periods of time makes it really difficult. I really wish the COVID wave relaxes and travel restrictions get lifted. There are many Indian grocery stores and restaurants, so I do not miss the food as much.
One time we played holi even with our CEO!
Food is not a really big concern for me, because you can find so much variety here. But what I really miss is healthy and tasty home-cooked food and yummy and mouth-watering Indian street food 🙁 When I came to Japan, I left behind a major part of my life, my family and friends. The only thing I am sad about is not being able to attend my friend’s wedding (because of the corona). Another thing I can think of is, I rarely use the Indian language in day-to-day communication haha.
Finally, I would like to hear about our second home, PayPay. How do you feel working here in such a diverse environment?
I am surprised and feel proud to call myself one of the early members of the launch of PayPay. We have seen many ups and downs together. My colleagues are my first family here. This is where I felt at home at PayPay when I didn’t know anyone. So it will always hold a special place in my heart.As we grow in size, I wish we can give a similar taste of comradery to all colleagues coming from different parts of the world.
As the saying goes “Indians are everywhere when it comes to IT”, there are lot of Indian people working in PayPay too :p I have been working alongside some of the most talented people. PayPay being a Japanese company has an amazing work culture, especially the WFA policy allows a high level of flexibility in work. When you work alongside people from different countries, you get to learn more about their culture too. It is really amazing how well diversity fits in and reflects in the work we do.
This is it for this month! We’ll be back soon with more stories about PayPay and its employees. See you next month and be careful with the high temperatures! 😊👍
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Author：Anton ／ Managing Editor : Az
* Employees’ affiliations are those of the time of the interview.