* The Japanese version of the article is also available.
Hi Dear Readers! Let’s start September with some of the most important events of the month in Japan. Japan is well known by its well prepared infrastructure and education about earthquakes and every September 1st is set as the day of disaster prevention, or 防災訓練. This date is marked on the calendar since there was a major earthquake (Great Kanto earthquake) in 1923. Another event happens with the celebration of the full moon this month. It is called Tsukimi (月見) and a lot of people will gather to see the full moon and participate in different activities as well as eating special food like Tsukimi dango, udon… But let’s move to our special volume of Around the world with PayPay! From a land down under, the country of the boomerang, the kangaroos, huge bugs, Mad Max and of course AC/DC… Australia! Let me introduce to you our 3 aussie guests today, but first, if you missed the previous volumes of Around the world, you can find all of them by clicking here. Let’s get started!
Let’s talk about your community here in Japan, how do you find something connected to your culture when you need it?
I’m from Melbourne in Australia, which is almost directly south of Tokyo… if you fly for 10 hours or kayak for much longer😁. Whenever I feel like I am missing my community or my home country, I can always find a bit of Australia by going to get craft beer or a coffee. I have no local friends or family here, so I am actively trying to make some connections from work – but the pandemic is making things really hard. Aside from Beer, Coffee and English, I don’t think living in Tokyo is really all that different from Melbourne. There is so much Asian influence there, so there were no real “culture shocks” making it hard to adjust – except perhaps the Japanese proclivity for sending and receiving Faxes 😅
I don’t have much of a community at all in Japan! My wife and I landed here in 2020 just before COVID turned the world topsy turvy. So we’ve been mostly self isolating and with WFH, I’ve barely gotten to meet and get to know my colleagues as much as I would if we were working in the office. Hopefully that’ll change over time!💪 Having lived and worked long term in Melbourne, Singapore, and now Japan I find the overall life style is very much the same. I’m yet to find Vietnamese food that rivals that of Melbourne but it’s a lot better in Japan than it is in Singapore! But there is so much of Japan I have to explore! My wife and I have found a few grocery stores that sell Chinese, Thai, or Vietnamese ingredients so it sort of feels like home when we go to these stores to shop for products we’re used to seeing back home! 😋
Due to your Japanese roots, is it different for you, Erika?
My community in Japan is a little different from other people moving to Japan for the first time; my mother’s side of the family is from Nara, so my grandparents and my aunt’s family lives in that area. I was able to visit them for New Year’s and have been able to regularly catch up with them, more than I could when I was in Australia, for which I feel quite blessed. 🤗 In PayPay so far I have met only lovely and welcoming people (special shout out to Anubha from HR)! I take a lot of pride in Australian English, and I love introducing people to new Aussie slang, especially when it’s a little wacky. For example – in the morning I’ll start working while eating brekkie, for lunch I put on my thongs and head to the nearest Maccas, hopefully avoiding getting any mozzie bites in the meantime. In the arvo I muck about, think about chucking a sickie (just kidding HR ) and whinge about American spelling like “favorite” in #aussie-mates (a Slack channel we have at PayPay). At night watching TV I’ll giggle at the ad for Povo, which means something unpleasant in ’Straya.
I’m sure there are many things you guys miss from Australia. Could you tell me some of them?
The thing I miss most about home… is probably the way we say it straight-up. No tea, no shade, no pink lemonade, but we are usually quite blunt! This is in stark contrast to Japan, where people will say 今ちょっと忙しいんですけど。。。(I’m a bit busy right now…) or something, instead of “No.” I only learnt this after coming here and trying to make a plan with a colleague. They kept saying “Not today” or “I’m busy” and I had no idea, it was sooooo embarrassing! 😳 Another thing I miss is fitting in anywhere I go. I’m very tall, so I have to skip wearing the neon shoes or dying my hair rainbow otherwise people deliberately move away from me. I’m really lucky that both my previous company and PayPay welcomed foreigners otherwise I’m sure I would’ve lost my mind…😏
I miss the food in Singapore and Melbourne a lot. In Singapore they have Hawker Centres which is like a huge food court and the food is amazingly tasty AND insanely cheap! In Melbourne the Vietnamese food is super good because a lot of refugees from Vietnam came to Melbourne after the Vietnam war and for many years after that too so there is a big community of Vietnamese people in Melbourne. Another thing I miss in Australia that is not food related is the general laidback attitude Australia is known for. I miss the cheekiness of the “Aussie Larrikin” and the typical “She’ll be right” attitude.😬
I miss salt and vinegar chips. How is that the one snack Japan doesn’t have? I was trying to clean my couch with vinegar the other day and the smell made my mouth water. I’m trying to get my dad to send me some through air mail. (If anyone can hook me up, let me know.)🙏 At least, this is me enjoying multicultural food from an Australian cafe in Chiba. I also miss feeling “secure” and feeling like I fit in. I am always worried that someone (a cashier, a shopkeeper, the person next to me on the train) will look at me and know that I am foreign. That they will deliberately speak to me in English because they think I don’t know Japanese. I’m really lucky that PayPay’s atmosphere and people don’t make me feel like that. I think almost any other Japanese company would have, but we have such amazing diversity here that I have never felt out of place. I think all of PayPay should be very proud of this inclusivity.✌
Not the best timing to enjoy many things in Japan due to Covid-19, but what sort of things you like or would like to do in Japan?
Unfortunately with the pandemic, I haven’t been able to travel and explore much, but I am looking forward to doing so once everything gets better. I am a big fan of shrines and temples, I always get omikuji (おみくじ, lottery fortune telling) when I go as well as omamori (お守り, good luck charms), which I used to get as a kid before big exams. I was introduced to the philosophies of wabi-sabi (侘寂, appreciation of imperfection) and mono-no-aware (物の哀れ, appreciation of impermanence) in university, and I would love to learn about ikebana (生け花, flower arrangement) and tea ceremonies, inspired by my mother, who was a disciple of both. As for language, I think that Japanese is the most beautiful and musical language when spoken, and has a richness and an aged quality when written – although admittedly, I may be a little biased.
I came to Japan because I studied Japanese at Uni. I did not want to waste that time and skill, so when I got the opportunity to move here for work I decided to take it. Unfortunately with the pandemic, I haven’t been able to travel and explore much of Japan, and staying at home with 100% English games and media, I fear that I am slowly losing my speaking skills. I am a big fan of Japan’s ancient temples, so I like Kyoto a lot. I did a tea ceremony once, and that is something I will never forget.
I used to go Grocery Shopping for non-japanese products. This is a market in Ueno. It’s just like the wet markets in Singapore and with most people here speaking Chinese, almost sounds like it too! The photo of me holding a claypot of preserved vegetable, this is one of my favourite condiments so I was super excited when I found it here in Japan! I enjoy taking road trips and exploring the outdoors (when I’m not gaming). Japan has such an amazing landscape, so I can’t wait to explore more of Japan’s countryside with my family! 🏔👪
We all had some problems with the language barrier at the beginning, leading to comic situations or misunderstandings… But finally people always tried to help and somehow communication finally happened. Can you tell me the most difficult or annoying things for you in Japan?
Renting in Japan is possibly one of the most difficult things compare to the other countries I’ve lived in. Not only are landlords not welcoming to foreigners, the concepts behind “key money” and things like that makes renting or changing rental properties prohibitively expensive. Also all the manual paperwork….so….much…paperwork 😫
One of THE most 面倒くさい (inconvenient; bothersome; too much trouble, a pain) things ever about Japan for me is finding an apartment! Once I did that ONCE, I never want to move again here in Tokyo. It’s so hard to find a place, super expensive to move in, and many real-estate places also don’t trust foreigners. They say things like “you cannot cook your country’s food in the apartment” but the joke’s on them though–Australia is made up of a million different cultures and foods, so I can always find something to cook… 🤬 Another thing I really can’t handle in Japan is DRIVING… The streets are too narrow and I feel like I will hit people, so I sold my car and I got a road bike. I’m more fit… but also infinitely more sunburnt. I guess it’s a tradeoff? 🤣
One of the most mendokusai (めんどくさい) things for me is going from one place to another via train in Japan. I didn’t realize for a long time that stations with the same name but JR and non-JR were separate. I also highly dislike transferring at Shinjuku. I once allotted 30 extra minutes of travel time in case I missed a transfer and ended up using all that extra time because I got on the wrong train at Shinjuku. I’ve adapted by avoiding Shinjuku at all costs and accounting for extra travel time (it’s worked so far). I also found that having to pay bills at convenience stores was quite annoying – I am the forgetful type so I prefer to pay right away before I forget. PayPay has solved this one for me though! 🤩
This is it for this month! We’ll be back soon with more stories about PayPay and its employees already in Autumn! See you next month! 😊👍
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Author： Anton ／ Managing Editor: Az * Employees’ affiliations are those of the time of the interview.