Isn’t it difficult to abide by social etiquette from a young age? – Tell me, Japanese people! Vol. 22

Produced by Isao Tokuhashi
Edited by Jennifer A. Hoff
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Kawagoe, Saitama Prefecture

Located approximately 30 kilometers from downtown Tokyo. The city is known locally as “Little Edo” (小江戸 Koedo) after the old name for Tokyo, due to its many historic buildings.
*Kawagoe. (n.d.). In Wikipedia. Retrieved November 18, 2018, from,_Saitama

*Related article: Tokyo Getaways #3 Kawagoe ‘Ancient Edo’ Walking Tour



Man from Australia

I’m originally from Sydney but have been living in San Francisco for the last two years. The reason I came to Kawagoe is that my wife’s host suggested it to us. This is a really beautiful and traditional part of the city. It feels like there’s more love here.

This is my wife and I’s first time in Japan. We have been here for four days and have been staying in Ikebukuro, in Tokyo. My wife is here in Japan to give some lectures at Rikkyo University.

We’ll be staying here for one week. We’re just visiting around in the Tokyo area this time, but we’re having a great time here. I might be going to Kawasaki tomorrow, where I’ll be riding my push-bike.

Question: How do you stay so slim with all the wonderful food?


Mother and Daughter from the US

Daughter: We’re originally from Orange County, in Los Angeles. This is my second time that I’m coming to Japan. I came to Japan with my mom for the first time two years ago, where we went to Kanazawa, Kyoto and Nara.
Mother: This is my seventh time being here in Japan. I came to visit my grandparents who were living in Kanagawa Prefecture while I was growing up. I’m half Japanese.

We’re in Japan for a 10-day trip. We came here to Kawagoe because the website called “Tokyo Cheapo” featured this area as one of the day trip destinations from Tokyo. It’s easy to come here from Shinjuku, which is where we’re staying.

We’ll be visiting Hida-takayama in Gifu Prefecture tomorrow. Then, we’ll go to Matsumoto in Nagano Prefecture, Nagoya, Kyoto and Miyajima in Hiroshima Prefecture. We’re hoping that we’ll see some red leaves.

Question: How did you learn to be so fashionable?


Married Couple from the UK

Husband: I’m from a town close to Edinburgh, Scotland. I’ve visited Japan many times with my wife, who is Japanese. We come to Tokyo every two years, and this is my second time in Kawagoe. This time, we’ll be staying here for three weeks. We’ve already been to Shirakawa in Gifu Prefecture, but we’ve been spending most of our time looking around the Tokyo area this time around.
Wife: We went to Shinjuku, Ameyoko in Ueno, and Shibamata Taishakuten Temple on the east end of Tokyo.
Husband: We have family and friends here so we always have a lot of good food together with them. My favorite Japanese food is Yakitori. My Japanese friends brought us here two years ago, and we wanted to make a return visit to see these wonderful buildings. We also wanted to eat more Japanese food. And I just love the people, and the atmosphere, as well as the smells here in Japan.

I’ve also worked for a Japanese company before, which has its office in Aberdeen, in Scotland; and I came to work here at its headquarters on exchange for a while.

1. Why do you bow when meeting? In the UK we shake hands or hug.
2. The trains are very efficient; how do you do this? We enjoy Shinkansen – in the UK we do not have trains that are this fast.
3. When do you wear kimono?


Group of Highschool Boys from South Korea

A: This is my second time here in Japan. Our group came to Japan as part of an exchange program between Japanese and South Korean highschool students. I personally visited for the first time with my family last summer.

B: I have been taking Japanese in class in highschool. I want to enter a program at the University of Tokyo after I graduate.
C: I am studying Japanese at a cram school in order to study abroad in Japan in the future.
A: I am preparing for studying abroad in Japan, too.

A: Students selected from all over South Korea participate in this program. I came from Gyeonggi-do.
B: I came from Seoul.
C: I’m from Busan.
A: We will stay in Japan for one week. The youngest in our group is 15 years old.

B: What I really wanted to do in Japan was to put on kimono, because I thought that it would be very meaningful for me to wear the traditional Japanese costume in Japan. It is not just cosplay for me [laughs].

C: To me, Japan is very beautiful.
B: Cities and towns in Japan are really beautiful. I don’t think there’s any city that’s like Kawagoe in my country. Another difference I feel between South Korea and Japan is in our table manners. In Japan, you hold dishes, and have rice only using chopsticks, while we often also use spoons. My favorite Japanese food is Sukiyaki. This is my first time coming to Japan and liked it when I had sukiyaki on the first day.
C: I like oshizushi (pressed sushi). It’s really good.

Question: Isn’t it difficult to abide by social etiquette from a young age?
*Translated by Katy Philips


Woman from the US

I’m here from California with my husband. This is my second time coming to Japan. We came here last autumn and spent two days in Kyoto. Now he is participating in a business conference and we’ll visit Mt. Koya in Wakayama Prefecture to stay for one night at the monastery after that. Then we’ll go to Kyoto, Nara, Uji, and probably also Himeji Castle in Hyogo Prefecture.

I came to Kawagoe for the first time to see the old Edo-style Japan. I found it online as a day trip destination from Tokyo. I went to the shrine and saw many cute kids dressed in kimono. Now I’m going to an older part of the town. In the US, I take lessons in Japanese traditional embroidery, the kind that they have traditionally done on kimonos.

I’m very interested in ancient Japan. My favorite spots in Japan are Kyoto and Asakusa so far. Those are very touristybut it was fun to visit.

“I’m so grateful when I see people doing traditional crafts. It’s important to keep the techniques alive.”


Woman from Australia

I’m from Brisbane. I’ve been in Japan for two years and have been working at a Japanese law firm in Tokyo.

My first time coming to Japan was when I was a teenager. I studied Japanese in highschool, so I wanted a chance to come to Japan to improve my Japanese. Back then, I went to Osaka to study the language at my sister highschool. I felt that Japan was very neat and tidy compared to Australia. I think people in Japan are very well-managed. They are very helpful and polite, and also very shy. On the other hand, I feel that there is more of a hierarchy here socially and that there are more rules in Japan. I can talk to my boss in the same way that I talk to my friends in my country.

I love Japanese food but I don’t like sea urchin (uni). I hate its taste and texture [laughs].

I’m leaving Japan soon… for my career. I need to go back home in order to become a lawyer. I’m very sad because Japan is my second home. I’d like to come back here!

Question: Why do people in Japan work so much?


Thank you very much for your cooperation!

…Who wants to ask the next question?


Kawagoe, Saitama Prefecture

*Interviews by Yeong-ho Chanon Oğuzhan Lee
*Photos by M. Iwakubo


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