Around the World with PayPay is a series of articles featuring our global workplace, with people gathered from approximately 40 countries around the world. The article consists of two parts: “FROM OUTSIDE” (published every first Thursday of the month) focuses on a comparison between Japan and the interviewee’s home country. “FROM INSIDE” (published every second Friday of the month) focuses on experiences within PayPay.
In this article, we’ve sat down with Pavel from Russia! Don’t forget to check out past issues too.
Country: Russia / Years in Japan: 5 / Location: Kanagawa
“I love my work, I love writing code and programs, and I enjoy life in Japan – it’s a beautiful country with very good people and I love living here”
Recommend a spot/thing in your country
Russia is not a very touristic country, but I recommend visiting the museums, given the country’s very interesting history. There are many museums in Moscow and St. Petersburg. On a more of a personal note, I really love nature so I used to go to the big botanical gardens in Moscow.
What places/things would you recommend in Japan?
I really love Izu and Enoshima. This summer, I also went to the lakes around Fuji – Kawaguchiko and Yamanakako, which were really beautiful. As I mentioned, I really love nature so these places were great. Enoshima is great because it has an interesting story and legends. I go there quite often. Izu is a bit further away from Tokyo compared to Enoshima, but I may buy a house there sometime in the future. I remember going for a drive in Izu with a friend – I don’t remember exactly where, but we went to a hot bath and also found some beautiful yama-zakura (type of sakura) in bloom, when it was still only February. This is another interesting thing about Japan, because there’s always something in bloom in every season of the year, even in December or January, whereas in Russia it’s so cold during the winter you don’t get that.
Recommend a dish from your country?
The most popular Russian dish is Borsch – it’s a very dense soup with cabbage, beats, and meat – although there’s a lot of different recipes. Another nice dish that’s popular in Russia but not very available outside of Russia is Kholodets. It’s a simple dish that takes some time to cook. You boil beef or pork, or sometimes chicken, together with its bones for several hours, until you’re left with a very dense soup. Boiling the bones together with the meat is very important. Some people add carrots and garlic too. You then put it in the fridge, and it turns into a sort of jelly, which you then finally serve together with mustard or khren, which is a condiment similar to wasabi. It’s a very popular dish that people eat over new year’s, but non-Russian people are usually afraid to try it. (laughs) It’s very tasty though, and good for your bones. Sadly, it’s difficult to get Kholodets in Japan because it’s not popular outside of Russia, but you can get Borsch in any Russian restaurant. I recommend a place called Café RUSSIA in Kichijoji.
What is similar between Russia and Japan?
I think there are more differences than similarities. (laughs) For example, the biggest difference may be the distance between people. Russia is very similar to Australia for example, in that people don’t keep that big a distance between other people. In Japan, people try to keep their personal space and maintain a certain distance. This is something that I actually like because I don’t enjoy being too close to other people. Also, the Japanese people are very polite. It can sometimes be difficult to follow all the rules, because something that’s considered very fine & polite in Russia can sometimes be seen as very rude in Japan, so I’m always conscious of being polite to avoid awkward moments. I think the people, nature, and climate are all very different. It’s hard to imagine that we’re all the same people with two legs, two arms, and one head. (laughs)
How long have you been in Japan?
I’ve lived in Japan for about 5 years. I currently live in Tama-ward, Kawasaki. It’s a very good place. I heard that the Hayao Miyazaki cartoon Pom Poko is based on what happened in this area, and I really do see a lot of tanukis (racoons) around. There are several small forests on the mountains so that’s where they live. At night they come to the city looking for food.
Where did you live before coming to Japan?
I lived in Moscow. I was invited to come and work for Rakuten, so I moved together with my wife and daughter. We rented an apartment called the Sakura House in Minato ward for the first few months, and then moved to Kawasaki after that, where we’ve lived ever since. We’ve found friends here – my daughter has found friends here too. She’s now 6, so she’s lived in Japan for most of her life. She’s recently started to speak Japanese as well, after starting at elementary school.
Why did you come to Japan?
Because I was invited by Rakuten. I had several other opportunities at the time. Finland was one, but I knew it was a very cold country… Another one was to work at Atlassian in Australia. The thing with Rakuten was that they offered a chance to work with a lot of data, which was something that I didn’t have a lot of experience in and wanted to try out. I didn’t have a strong desire to move to Japan – I was curious about the country, since I knew people moving to Japan because they love anime or the history, but I didn’t have any of those things. I just wanted to work an interesting job, which happened to be with data. After coming to Japan and getting to know the country though, I’ve really come to love the country. Even though I didn’t come to Japan because I loved the country, now that I’m here, I can’t imagine living anywhere else.
What’s been difficult living in Japan?
There’s this one thing that is difficult – but let me also say that it’s much more complicated in Russia, so it is not as bad in a relative sense. It’s the bureaucracy. There’s a lot of paperwork and forms. The difference is though that people in Japan always help with it. For example, I recently received an extension of my visa for the next 5 years. In the immigration office, the staff were very helpful with filling out the forms. They gave hints about what to write, where to write it, and what was missing. No one in Russia would do this. There are less forms to fill out in Russia, but the problem is that no one helps with them. In Japan everyone always helps. That doesn’t mean I don’t hate the process though. (laughs)
It’s so complicated and stressful, it’s the worst thing that I need to do in Japan. Of course, not knowing the language makes it difficult too. I tried to learn Japanese, but I’m also trying to learn things that are related to my job at the same time, so I just don’t have enough time to do everything. I tried 3 different courses for beginners, but all I can say is arigato, konichiwa, konbanwa, sayonara… (laughs) But another thing that’s good about Japan is that even though I can’t speak Japanese, people try to help through gestures and trying to communicate in English.
Check back in next week for “FROM INSIDE” !
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Special thanks : Pavel / Author: Kye / Managing Editor: Az
* Employee affiliations are as of the time of the interview.