PayPay Inside-Out People and Culture

LIFE IN JAPAN vol.5 – from China


The “LIFE IN JAPAN” series showcases the lifestyles of PayPay employees from 50 different countries and regions who have moved to Japan.
This time, we interviewed Wanyu Song from China about how she came to join PayPay and the secret to living on her own in a country with a different culture!

Wanyu Song

Data Infrastructure, Data Management Department, System Division, Corporate Group, PayPay Corporation

Hi, I am Song. I started working in Japan in January 2015 and joined PayPay in September 2022. At PayPay, I belong to the Data Management Department and am mainly responsible for developing company-wide data marts and handling inquiries. PayPay is still a young company, but we continue to attract talented people, and everyone is working together to achieve results, so I’m doing my best to contribute to that.

What made you interested in Japan?

I have loved Japanese anime since I was a child, especially after I got hooked on Evangelion, I became captivated by Japanese culture. In 2012, I finally had the opportunity to visit Japan for the first time on a trip, and during the week I spent there, I started thinking, “I want to live in Japan!” The streets were clean with no litter. Although I couldn’t communicate well, when I asked for directions, I was moved when people I asked still guided me to my destination. ‍Moreover, there were many cutting-edge technologies, and I realized it is an attractive country for engineers to work.

Later, a former colleague introduced me to a small staffing agency and mentioned “There’s a chance for you to work in Japan”, and despite not being able to speak Japanese, I took a chance and tried my best. I moved to Japan in 2015.

Commemorative photo with deer in Nara on my first trip to Japan

Did you have any concerns before coming to Japan? And if so, how did you overcome them?

I wasn’t particularly anxious about daily life, but I was worried about the language issue. After coming to Japan, I gradually learned Japanese while working. I attended Japanese conversation classes, watched dramas, and learned from friends around me, but Japanese is still difficult!

In Japanese, there are often euphemistic expressions like “cushion words”, which can be confusing because Chinese is more straightforward. For example, when a senior colleague said, “I would be happy if you could do this task, Song-san,” I became anxious, thinking, “Does this mean they’re not happy now? Did I do something to upset them?” And when they said, “It’s completely fine,” I took it literally, but it turned out that I had actually upset the other person.

As for kanji, some of them have different meanings in Japanese and Chinese, so you need to be careful! For example, “娘” means mother in Chinese. (娘 is the Japanese Kanji for daughter) So when I saw the idol group “Morning Musume” on TV, I mistakenly thought, “They’re all such young mothers”(laughs).

How is your life in Japan?

On the topic of culture shocks, one would be the “Otohime” (sound etiquette device) installed in the restrooms. At first, I didn’t know what it was for, but now I am a big fan.
Another thing is that the Japanese are good at teaching. Many Chinese people have short tempers and they quickly become impatient and say, “Oh my God, why don’t you get it!” But Japanese people always answer kindly and teach me patiently, which is very helpful.

Tianjin, where Song-san is from, and Kobe City in Japan are sister cities

Didn’t you get homesick?

Since I can have video calls when I want to see my family’s faces, I didn’t particularly feel homesick. In Kobe, there are foods and scenery that remind me of my hometown. Most Chinese restaurants in Japan have flavors tailored for Japanese people, so they might lack spiciness or be sweeter, but I like Nankokou-tei in Kobe, which a friend recommended!

Also, where I currently live in Kobe, there are places like Nankinmachi (Chinatown) and the night view of Meriken Park that resemble the atmosphere of my hometown, Tianjin. Kansai’s lively culture is also similar.
One of the deciding factors in my decision to move to PayPay was the Work From Anywhere At Anytime (WFA) system, which allows me to live and work in a place of my choice. It is appealing to be able to live and work in a place that you feel comfortable in, while living in your own way.

(Above) View of the Meriken Park area in Kobe, Japan
(Below) View along the river in Tianjin, China

What is the key to adjusting to life in Japan?

“When in Rome, do as the Romans do”, so I think it is better to learn a little bit of everyday conversation to get used to the new environment. However, I think it is better to communicate your thoughts directly to the other person without hesitation. If you hide your true feelings, effective communication becomes difficult.

What are some challenges you want to take on in Japan?

I have lived in Japan for eight years and have already enjoyed traveling around, but one thing I want to do in the future is to promote Japan-China cultural exchanges! Before the pandemic, I had a memorable experience of bringing Japanese friends back to China for a visit. It would be nice to introduce China to Japanese people and vice versa, introduce Japan to Chinese friends. I would also love to organize Japan-China cultural exchanges at PayPay!

BBQ with friends I met at a Japan-China exchange event!

What’s it like working at PayPay?

Japanese companies, especially large corporations, have well-developed human resource development programs and evaluation systems. On the other hand, some people may have the impression that Japanese companies are conservative about change, or that some still have a seniority-based system. However, PayPay is much more flexible than traditional Japanese companies and has a flat hierarchy. I also like the transparency of management-related information and the fact that English and Japanese language classes are offered!

One challenging aspect is finding the balance between quality and speed in a fast-paced environment. In my case, I always try to think from the user’s perspective to reach a conclusion.

A word to those who want to come to Japan and work for PayPay?

In the era of digital payments, PayPay is a company with a bright future, and it offers a rewarding environment where you can make a difference in people’s lives through your hard work. We also have a Work From Anywhere (WFA) system, which is especially recommended for those who want to enjoy living in Japan while working.

Next time…
We will chat with an employee who came to Japan from Egypt. Don’t miss it!

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*Recruitment status and employee affiliations are correct at the time of the interview.