Interviewed & written by Isao Tokuhashi
Mail to: email@example.com
Eduard Talman (Holland)
CEO of online hotel booking company *At that time
(He’s been in Japan since 2002)
Eduard Talman is from Holland and he came to Japan to start his own business. He says that nobody else in Europe wanted to have the business in Japan so he tried to do that. Now he is successful in the online-booking field but used to have a tough time.
Launching business in Japan
I came here for the first time on a business trip many years ago. I was working for Philips, a Dutch electronics company. I had joint ventures with Sony so I came here a couple of times.
On the other hand, a friend of mine started the company “Booking.com” then. I thought that his software would be very competitive in Japan, so I established a small company here in Japan by using his software while I worked for Philips.
Then I started the hotel reservation service. At that time, my American friend was mainly running the company here and I came here to help him on holidays. But he decided to go home so I left Philips.
When I came to Japan in September 2001, I didn’t plan to live here. I just would help the American guy for a few days because the company faced some difficulties. But he decided to go home so I took over for him because I wanted to make success by myself.
I only had a laptop computer
When I came to Narita Airport, my luggage was still in Germany. I only had a laptop computer. And on that day, a typhoon was coming. The American guy and I had to wait for a while because the trains stopped. I got very wet when I arrived in Tokyo but I had no cloths yet. This is my first experience of a typhoon. And I found that all of the TV screens at the hotel had the scenes of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center.
It was not so hard for me to adopt the Japanese way of living. Most of the times people speak English. And Japanese people always try to help you. For example, when you have some trouble in Tokyo and if someone who wants to ask help can’t speak English, he/she or his/her friends try to find one who can speak English for you. So I always succeed to do what I want to.
I’m very happy with working with Japanese people
Japanese workers work very hard for a long time. Of course working is important to earn money and live a good life. But we Dutch people tend to spend the time with our families. We go home early.
But when I came here, I was very surprised at how much they dedicated themselves to their assignments, how hard they worked and how responsible they were. I’m very happy with working with Japanese people.
Tokyo is very organized. Everything is clean. People take care of things very much. And the quality of services in restaurants and shops is very high. If I left here, I would miss that. When I go to Europe, I realize how rough their services are.
On the other hand, I have something I don’t like. It’s the short trip on the subway in the morning. People are packed into the subways. It’s only five minutes or less but it’s terrible. I think Dutch people would not travel like that. When I go to foreign countries and tell people this, they start to laugh.
I wanted to continue the company business and that encouraged me
I go home twice a year and see my family and my friends, but I never feel homesick. Because I now feel Japan is my second home. I got married with a Japanese woman here and I know her family very well. It feels like home here.
My plan is that we live here for some years and go home to Holland for a while. We don’t know if it’s going to happen. But I will keep connecting with Japan somehow for the rest of my life.
Sometimes I speak to my friends over the phone in Dutch. But now I speak English all the time and I have been thinking about things in English. I don’t speak my language a lot.
But for a few years after I came here, sometimes I had a tough time. I thought of going home. But I wanted to continue the company business and that encouraged me. Now things are fine and I live a perfect life here.
*Photos by T.Y.
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