Interview with Lisa

30 May

Interview with Lisa of Ichigoichie love

Lisa is one of the off-line friends who I got to know from blogging. I knew she was a funny person from exchanging comments so many times, I was so happy when she moved to Japan last year!! But what’s more exciting is that she now lives in Tokyo!! Ah, one more important thing that makes me feel so comfortable with her is that she speaks good Japanese and I don’t have to speak in English! lol

===My interview starts from here.===

#1: Could you briefly introduce yourself to TKE readers?
Briefly: I’m a half-American, half-Swedish ball of scatterbrained craziness with a love for fashion, music and reading/writing. Yoroshiku! (^-^)/

#2: Why did you choose to come to Japan?
Hmm, well the first time I came over was for a short vacation. That time, it was mainly because I’d made a lot of Japanese friends at uni and was curious about what it was like. The second time I went was to live (Osaka, one year) and that was because I liked what I saw when I visited (plus the friend factor, still). The third time (current!) was for several reasons, the main being that I really missed life/food/friends here and it’s also a perfect base for pursuing my dreams.

#3: Lisa, you understand Japanese very well, but what made you want to study Japanese?
My main motivators have been and will always be that I love meeting and talking with people, and also I just like understanding things and learning in general; whether it’s something I’m watching, reading or experiencing. I get really frustrated when I don’t “get stuff”.

#4: Lisa, you’ve lived in Osaka, Miyazaki and now in Tokyo. How did you like/dislike each area and why?
How is it like to live in those areas?
Wow, well, they’re all quite different, that’s for sure!
Osaka is awesome. I love Osaka. It’s like my hometown in Japan, somewhere I can always go back to and really feel at ease. I still have a lot of friends in the area too. I love Osaka because it’s so lively, people are pretty open and friendly and it’s actually really convenient for sightseeing. From Osaka you can easily get to amazing places like Nara, Kyoto, Shikoku, Himeji castle etc without having to make a long or expensive trip. Of course Osaka is famous for food as well, and I love eating, so that works out quite well too, haha! ^-^
Disliking…Well, Osaka, although a huge city, somehow often seems to come off as second best next to Tokyo, even when (especially, perhaps?) considering job opportunities, which is a shame.

Miyazaki is beautiful. And entirely underrated! More people, both Japanese and foreign should go there! They’ve had a tough time with foot-and-mouth disease and bird flu breakouts, then there was the volcano… ^^; But there’s gorgeous beaches and many historical and interesting places. If you want to learn more about Shinto, Miyazaki’s the place to go. Again, the food there is fantastic. ^^)b
But, Miyazaki is definitely more rural and I was living in the countryside, so it could be quite convenient at times. I drove almost everywhere. There was a lot of freedom in that respect, but sometimes it’s nice to take a nap on the way home after a long journey. Also in terms of shops and concerts (the latter is super important for me!) there wasn’t that much on offer. If you like jazz and reggae you’ll be fine. Rock, less so. And the same as with Osaka, the lack of variety when it comes to job opportunities.

Tokyo. Well, Tokyo is also of course amazing! There’s so much to see and do, and you have virtually everything in one spot. But…it’s not “Japan”. As is the case with most capital cities, it’s not representative of the country its in. I also feel that I have fewer opportunities to use my Japanese more naturally, since people either expect me not to speak it at all, or speak English well enough themselves. For someone studying, it can be a bit frustrating sometimes. Also because Tokyoites are generally a little more reserved than say Miyazaki folk and Osakans, it can sometimes be hard to tell if I’m talking to someone new and they’re a bit quiet. Are they just shy or do they want me to go away? (lol) (See the question about “boys” for the same issue there.)
Oh, and the fact that there are so many foreigners around still kinda freaks me out. Strange, but true.

#5: What kind of Japanese food do you like/dislike most?
I love and will eat almost anything, so that could be a long list! I really love okonomiyaki though, because it’s so versatile. As for snacks, I can’t stop eating mitarashi dango these days, still.
Dislike… there’s not really anything I dislike. There’s stuff that I probably wouldn’t buy and eat myself, but nothing that I really dislike… Although I used to get a bit annoyed at finding anko (red bean paste) in unexpected places! I liked it, I just didn’t like being surprised! (^^;)

FYR, Mitarashi Dango looks like this.

*photo disclaimer: NHK Asaichi Gohan

#6: Do you have any difficulties in living in Tokyo even though you understand the language so well? What is that?
Not really. Most important information is available in English, but most of that I can get by with my scruffy Japanese anyway.
Ohh, sometimes the directional signs in the subway can be confusing. That’s not a language issue though, just a weird “these arrows are *not* pointing in the right direction” kind of way. That or they simply disappear. I usually find my way around pretty easily though.
I suppose there’s a lack of clarity in communication that I encounter here that I didn’t in Miyazaki or in Osaka. Although I realise there’s a lot of subtle cues involved and I can usually pick them up, sometimes people in Tokyo won’t say something or be very vague in situations that I’ve not experienced that before.

#7: Is there any shocking cultural difference that you faced or realized?
Coming to Japan? Hmmm, nothing huge. Occasionally I’ll think “huh, that’s odd” but to be honest, since I’ve moved around so much all my life, I don’t really shock easily, or at least not for long enough to remember it. I suppose the one thing is that guys and girls don’t really hang out with each other unless it’s in groups. Even then it’s most often separate groups of guys and separate groups of girls. It’s kind of a pain for me since usually my close friends are girls, but I hang out with guys more. So sometimes I feel I have to be careful with that since I don’t want to give anyone the wrong impression (i.e. that I’m after someone’s boyfriend or whatever). Which is a bit of a shame, but then the issue’s on my side – s’not really something I can blame on anything/anyone else. It just means I’ve not adapted to it in a functional way yet. ^^
OH! And one more thing…not cultural really but…the lack of insulation. (T^T) Houses are cold inside in winter and hot in summer. This is something I feel shouldn’t happen, even now. πŸ˜›

#8: How did you make Japanese friends? Is there any clue or tip?
To be honest, I often just randomly talk to people. I do that at home too, which, of course, will get you weird looks sometimes, but you can’t win them all. ^^
Also, being foreign, sometimes people will come up to me and talk too, especially if I’m wearing something (a designer/band merchandise/accessory/character) they’re either familiar with or think is cute. Chopper’s a good one for that! (laugh) Of course speaking Japanese helps A LOT. I really can’t stress this enough. Of course there are many people who speak English and that’s great, but if you want more chances to meet more people who are interested in whatever you like, you increase your options by being able to communicate in the same language as them. It also makes starting a conversation much easier and people often feel more at ease if they know you can understand a little bit at least.
Not to mention by learning you’re actively showing an interest in the other person’s culture and country. (This goes for any country, not just Japan.)

*photo disclaimer: Lisa’s Ichigoichie Love blog

I also meet a lot of new people at concerts lately, which is a lot of fun! It’s always great to be able to talk about stuff you like and the other person actually knows (cares!) what you’re on about.
I’ve also met some people via mixi (the Japanese social netowrking site), but again that’s been specific to bands/concerts.

#9: Which part of Japan do you want to travel? Why is that?
OKINAWA! I love the ocean, beaches, scuba diving, snorkelling – most of all I love the heat! (When I don/t have to wear suits and such!)
Actually there are plenty more places I’d love to travel: Hokkaido, Ise Shrine, Aomori… Anywhere and everywhere if possible! There are so many interesting places to visit, it doesn’t really matter. I just love travelling. ^^

#10: Any tips or comments for those who want to move to Japan?
Bring with you a half-empty suitcase (you’ll fill it up soon enough), an open mind and if you can, some language skills.

#11: Let’s say you were allowed to bring something back home from Japan. What would you choose?
Easy. A kotatsu! I loved my kotatsu in Miyazaki, but had to sell it for space reasons. It’s completely useless in the sense that once you get underneath it you lose all sense of productivity but it’s sooooooooooo comfortable. And cozy. And social!

Kirin: For more about a Kotatsu, you can read this old post.

#12: What is your favorite Japanese word or phrase and why?
Well, I guess I have to say “ichigoichie” haha! It’s hard to translate the depth of what it means, but basically the underlying meaning is that things (experiences/meeting people/encounters) only happen once, so make the most of it/treasure it. It’s along the lines of “carpe diem”, but not quite the same… ^^; It’s hard for me to explain, but basically it’s a reminder for me to a) treasure my experiences and b) try to do my best every day, because I won’t get another chance and c) live in the now, because the past can’t be changed and the future is still unknown. I feel like that’s a bit on a tangent, but… that’s the general jist of it. ^^
Otherwise I had a tendency to use “?????” a bit too much. It’s a really casual (lazy :P) way of saying “Really?”. ^^;

#13: What do you think about Japanese guys? Are they…cute? too shy? childish?
Wow, this could be a whole post in itself and perhaps I’m not the best person to ask but… briefly, yes I think a lot of them are cute. They also tend to dress really well/stylishly, which helps. And since hair is a big thing for me, they also get bonus points for styling that as well. ^^)b
I do have to say that I think a lot of them are too shy though, yes. In situations where I meet several people, I can often be talking with the girl(s) easily for a long time once they realise I can speak Japanese, but with the boys, even after that they can be really hesitant. Or rather, it’s hard for me to judge if they’re shy or they’d rather just not talk because I’m annoying them. πŸ˜›
Or they just talk about the person I’m with, who doesn’t speak Japanese, which is odd. (This has happened on quite a number of occasions now and I’m still trying to figure out why, haha!)
Buuut having said that, I’d say Japanese boys are just like boys anywhere else. There’s all different kinds, so it’s hard to say anything really specific. ^^;

===end of the interview===

Thank you Lisa! It was an amazing interview. I prepared all those questions so that she could pick out the ones she is comfortable to answer, but she answered all of them! As for #6 question, I asked her if she could give me some specific examples and here they are.

Example 1: Let’s say Lisa mentions she lives in Tokyo now but before she was in Miyazaki.
When someone hears this, he or she would say, “Miyazaki?? Why Miyazaki? I’ve never been there even though I’m Japanese! lol”
But when it comes to Tokyoites, they would say “Ohh, I see. Where do you live in Tokyo?” (Less reaction!)

Example 2: At 2 offices she works for in Tokyo, Tokyoites do not speak enough. Instead they *points to copy machine or paper* or “Could you do this please? (no
reason given)” Back in Miyazaki, in such case, people said “Could you please make a copy of this/write here (for this purpose)?” When she is asked to do
something, Tokyoites would just point or vaguely indicate with a wave what they wanted her to do/where they wanted her to go. (Less explanation!)

Example 3: Lisa: “Even with some friends from here, I feel often I just can’t tell whether they’re being polite about a subject or actually really interested in it, you know?”

Basically Tokyo (east Japan) and Osaka (west Japan) are very different in many ways. If you come to Tokyo from Osaka, you’ll feel this difference and vice versa. Many Tokyoites dislike Osakans because they find them too noisy, pushy and the mental distance between people is too close. On the other hand, many Osakans will find Tokyoites too posh, unfunny, unfriendly and the mental distance between people is too far. I like Osaka but for example my husband and some of my friends dislike it.

Now please leave your comments or ask Lisa for more if you have a question!


32 Responses to “Interview with Lisa”

  1. Caroline Josephine May 30, 2011 at 11:24 am #

    Yay for Lisa! What an interesting post and great interview! I'm going to meet up with her soon, so I'll save my questions for then πŸ™‚

  2. Lisa May 30, 2011 at 11:35 am #

    うわ!γͺγ‚“γ‹γ€ι•·ιŽγŽγ‘γ‚ƒγ£γ¦γ€ζ₯γšγ‹γ—γ„…嬉しいけど! γ‚γ‚ŠγŒγ¨γ†ο½žβ˜†
    Ohh I guess perhaps it disappeared in the formatting when I emailed you, but the second expression I like should be γ€Œγƒžγ‚Έγ£γ™γ‹γ€
    Haha, I’m so lazy with stuff like that!(^_^;)

    But yes, everyone, if you have any questions/comments etc please post them! I’ll do my best to answer. πŸ™‚

    • kirin May 30, 2011 at 12:31 pm #

      Thank you for answering my interview questions. I really didn't expect you to answer all of them. So thank you again for taking time to do this for me and my readers! ^__^

      • ichigoichielove May 30, 2011 at 3:27 pm #

        My pleasure! It was really fun answering them actually, hehe! Made me think about stuff a bit as well.. which is good!

    • Cath May 31, 2011 at 11:05 pm #

      Wow… You really do read and write Japanese! How long did you take to learn and was it at a formal class?
      My husband's first trip to Japan was to Okinawa… and my 4th (I think) was to Miyazaki. Both of us have been to Nagano… which you can check out if you like the lovely rural side of Japan. I love the country side. Really miss being there. n_n

      • ichigoichielove June 1, 2011 at 4:12 pm #

        Ahhh I'm still learning! ^^;
        Hmm, formally I've had classes for about 1 year and a half, maybe 2 years?
        I've studied a fair bit on my own on the side and I need more practice writing (typing is fine, because I recognise which characters to use, but if I have to write them by hand it's more difficult to remember them correctly – and then there's stroke order too!)
        Ohhh, nice! Sounds like you've been to a variety of places! πŸ™‚

      • kirin June 2, 2011 at 2:34 am #

        Thank you for answering my readers' questions, Lisa!

        Nowadays because we (the Japanese) rely on computer too much, we even forget how to write Kanji. Computers or cell phones always select the proper Kanji or give suggestions for us only to choose from them. Because of this, we no longer remember Kanji well today. lol

  3. David May 30, 2011 at 11:41 am #

    Cool Interview Lisa.
    Oh, one thing:
    "Tokyo. (…) it’s not “Japan”

    Amen to that. πŸ™‚

    • ichigoichielove May 30, 2011 at 3:27 pm #

      Thanks! (^^*)
      Yeah, I know, right!? It's not a bad or a good thing, it just…is. ^^

  4. MammaMoon May 30, 2011 at 12:10 pm #

    oh yaay! such a fun interview with lisa! ^^v she`s so fantastically bubbly and cute! ^^v
    thankies for posting this! v^^v

    • ichigoichielove May 30, 2011 at 3:28 pm #

      Hahaa, thankies! You haven't seen me full on bubbly yet though… just wait. o.O

  5. みかけゃん May 30, 2011 at 12:22 pm #

    Aw! I love her blog and she's so great with giving advice to people that wish to live/come to Japan! ^^ I really look up to her! What a great interview, thank you for sharing!

    • ichigoichielove May 30, 2011 at 3:29 pm #

      I am quite seriously blushing right now. (^^*) You're soooo sweet!

  6. lina219 May 30, 2011 at 1:39 pm #

    I have to say, Lisa rocks! πŸ˜€
    Cool interview. πŸ™‚

  7. Sanaa May 30, 2011 at 6:02 pm #

    Dear Kirin, I hope that you are so fine!
    Thanks dear Kirin for sharing with us this great and interesting interview , I enjoyed alot while I was reading it.
    And I could know some information about japan from this interview, ecpecailly I would love to learn more and more about the Assian cultures.Thanks indeed!
    Lisa is so lucky that she could travel to japan, and feel the culture there, I love travelling a lot, I hope that someday go a long trip around all whole Asia, since I love Asia so much!^^

    Oh! kirin, I was smiling all the time, while I was reading the answers of lisa, she answer them with a lovely and funny way sometimes, it so amzing really Thanks!

    Actually how it is nice to can speak japanese language, when I heard some japanese conversations on TV, I feel how it is so hard to speak japanese, so it is so nice That you lisa can speak japanese language…. So, dear Kirin I would like to ask lisa this question :

    What is the best way to learn japanese language ?

    Dear Kirin Thanks again , and please Take care good of yourself

    Have a very nice day!


    • ichigoichielove June 1, 2011 at 11:58 am #

      Hi Sanaa, thank you for your lovely comments!
      Yes, I feel very lucky to be here and I try to remember that every day. πŸ™‚

      As for the best way to learn, wow that's a tricky one to answer really, since people argue a lot about it!
      For me, of course I took lessons and such in the beginning, but the best advice I can give is:
      1) Study a little, every day. Even if it's just five minutes, do *something*
      2) Study something you enjoy! Whether it's dramas or music or aromatherapy. Of course it can be tedious at first, but…
      3) Don't let "not understanding all/much" of it bring you down! It'll come little by little.
      4) Related to nr 3, don't *always* look up words you don't know. Relax and try to just listen to the flow of the language. Especially if you're watching movies, you'll pick up a lot of the story from actions/images. And a lot of words will keep reappearing , so eventually you'll memorize them without any difficulty.
      5) If you can, find people to talk to! Even if it's just another Japanese learner, it helps to try to "think" in Japanese too.

      Hope that helps, have a great one! ^^)

      • kirin June 1, 2011 at 12:22 pm #

        Thank you for answering Sanaa's question!

        Your answer is helpful to me too, because I'm trying to catch Spanish through TV dramas. Same as you say, I just enjoy watching it for now and gradually I get short sentences. I've started to exchange emails with my Spanish friend with like 15% of Spanish and 85% of English. Then when I understand it better, I'll start to look for a language exchange partner (Japanese/Spanish) in Tokyo so I can speak more. ^_^

      • Sanaa June 1, 2011 at 10:50 pm #

        Hi, Lisa! Thanks so much for you nice reply!

        You too Thanks so much for your information , I really do appreciate all that from you. Yeah! it was so helpful information for me..Actually, it wil be so good startegy to learn another language easily! ..I m going to write all these information in a document , Because it a good one really! and surely I will do all of them!^^
        once again Thanks very much Lisa….And You too Thanks so much Kirin!^^

        Have a very nice day!


  8. lluvia May 30, 2011 at 7:45 pm #

    Nice to meet Lisa πŸ™‚

    There is strained relations between different populations and behaviors in all countries. But variety is good. It's sad when people do not seem to understand each other.

    • ichigoichielove June 1, 2011 at 11:59 am #

      Hi IIluvia,

      nice to meet you too! ^^

      Yes, that's true! All we can do is try to understand each other, even if we don't always agree. πŸ™‚

  9. winnie May 31, 2011 at 4:29 am #

    Very interesting interview with Lisa!! Lisa is cool! πŸ™‚
    I read her blog and she is so kawaii too!!
    Thank you for sharing this post!!

    • ichigoichielove June 1, 2011 at 11:59 am #

      Thank yoooou!! And thank you for dropping by my blog too! (^^)

  10. TokyoChel (rachel) May 31, 2011 at 7:54 am #

    Wonderful, informative interview! Arigato to Lisa and Kirin. I love both of your blogs and you guys really inspire me in my aspirations to one day live in Japan!

    • ichigoichielove June 1, 2011 at 12:00 pm #

      Thank you for your sweet comments!! ^^)b
      I'm sure you'll make it here soon!!

  11. Kaoru June 1, 2011 at 6:56 am #

    interesting post! i wish i can visit japan again…and speak fluently japanese like Lisa!

    • ichigoichielove June 1, 2011 at 4:12 pm #

      Haaa, I'm not fluent yet but I'm trying! ^^)b
      Ganbatte! ^-^

  12. kari June 2, 2011 at 1:56 am #

    awww…. i love Lisa! ❀ so it was nice to hear from her like that.

  13. Meowmowraa August 5, 2012 at 10:35 pm #

    I know this is an old post but I found it very interesting!
    The statement that capital cities do not reflect the rest of the country is so very true! I think this about London here in England. I also find that in general Londoners tend to be posher, snobbier and less friendly. (Especially the business types, "cockney" London is a different story! – Although I still feel it rings true in part haha) I'm from the North of England and from the sound of it we can be compared to Osakans xD I think we are much friendly, more open and louder/more brash than those in the South. Some people hate this, others find it friendly and charming ^^

    • kirin August 6, 2012 at 3:29 am #

      Hi Meownowraa,

      Thank you for your interesting comment about how people are different in one country. I've been to London only once when I was 16 and stayed for a few weeks during my summer holiday at a family in Cheltenham. Unfortunately they didn't feed me well and I was starving all the time…I'm not complaining here and the point is I want to change my bad impression to your country because of this bitter experience alone, so maybe next time if I had a chance to visit the U.K, do you recommend that I should visit the North? Such as…Edinburgh or somewhere? ^__^;;

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