Interviewed & written by Isao Tokuhashi
Mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Charlotte Warren (UK)
Translator (She’s been in Japan since ’99)
The second person is from the United Kingdom! Ms. Warren has been in Japan for almost seven years. She can speak Japanese like a native speaker! She says you have to use the language or you’ll never learn to speak it.
*Interview in Shibuya
“Why not Japan?”
Before I came to Tokyo, I used to be in Kanagawa Prefecture, next door to Tokyo. And then I have been in Tokyo for a couple of years.
I wasn’t particularly interested in Japan. I did like living in Asia when I was a child. I have lived in Singapore and Hong Kong. That was between ages about 5 and 9 years old. So I wanted to come back to Asia. Japan seems to be easy to live. So, “Why not Japan?” I think Japan is a quite easy country to live in because Japan is more westernized than other Asian countries.
You have to actually use the language or you’ll never learn to speak it
It was difficult for me to study Japanese. I think Japanese is a quite difficult language for English speakers. But if you are living in somewhere and speaking it everyday, you can learn any language really. In any language, you have to actually use it or you’ll never learn to speak it. I had the tapes for listening and repeating. There is the books written in “Roma-ji”, but I didn’t use them. I remember I was always listening when I studied French. I just needed to concentrate to be able to listen and pronounce it.
Yes, it worked! I could read the most of the conversation in my textbook including kanji after a year of studying.
And I listened to the tapes a lot and repeated them a lot. I had private lessons to speak more. And when I go somewhere on the weekends, I take postcards and photos and talk about what I am doing at the lessons. I was trying to do as much as possible. And I liked to go somewhere and visit shrines or beaches, just to talk to people.
Japan doesn’t pay much attention to the appearance of its cities
Japanese coworkers are very reliable. But their communication method can be a little bit tricky. You have to have a good sense of people’s feeling. They tend to work in small teams so communication is pretty good. Actually I never find problems with the people who I work with.
I think food culture is maybe one of my favorite things in Japan. There is a culture of “quality over quantity”. People eat better food and they pay more attention to the food. Quality, presentation and appearance. I like that culture. It’s something we don’t do enough of in the UK or in America.
What I don’t like in Japan is architecture. It’s a pity but Japan doesn’t pay much attention to the appearance of its cities. Of course I know it’s because of the bombings, earthquakes and so on. It’s difficult for Japan to have old cities.
Whether I live here for a long time or not depends on myself and my Japanese husband. He could live in the UK, but we need to think over various things a little bit more.
*Photos by T.Y.
What is Tokyo to you?
Tokyo is the “Big Mikan (mandarin orange)”.
Some people say that. New York is the “Big Apple”, so some say like that about Tokyo.
On the surface, Tokyo seems to be a very ugly, faceless city. And it looks grayish. People don’t smile very much. But if you see under the surface, you would find some interesting people, and interesting places to go out.
The more you live here, the more you learn how things are going on in this city. Convenience of Tokyo’s public transport and safety give us a lot of freedom.
Tokyo gives me a big sense of freedom!