Why do Japanese people like natto? – Tell me, Japanese people! Vol.23

Produced by Isao Tokuhashi
Edited by Jennifer A. Hoff
Mail to: info@myeyestokyo.com


Rikugi-en Garden, Bunkyo-ku

Rikugi-en (六義園) is one of the Tokyo metropolitan parks. The name Rikugi-en means Garden of the Six Principles of Poetry (六義) which comes from the idea of the six elements in waka (和歌, a type of poetry in classical Japanese literature), while en (園) means garden or park. The construction of the park took place between 1695 and 1702. The founder of Mitsubishi, Iwasaki Yatarō bought the garden in 1878 and restored it. It was donated to the Tokyo City government in 1938.
*Rikugi-en. (n.d.). In Wikipedia. Retrieved December 8, 2018, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rikugi-en



Men from the US

A: We’re from San Francisco. I’m originally from China and he’s from the Philippines. We’re partners.
B: I work for a company in the US and they have an office here, so I come to Japan once every three months. I’m a software engineer who works mostly for the energy industry, and he is a doctor. We’re in Japan for 6 days. This is my 4th time in Japan.
A: This is my 6th visit to Japan.
B: We’ll spend Thanksgiving here.
A: Friday was a holiday in Japan too, right? (*November 23 is a Japanese national holiday called “Labor Thanksgiving Day”). We visited Kyoto and Yokohama, and went to different restaurants in Tokyo. We stayed in Shiodome, which is close to Ginza and Tsukiji. There used to be a huge fish market in Tsukiji but it has closed, so we’ll go to the new one in Toyosu tomorrow.
B: Kyoto was really lovely.
A: We stayed at a ryokan (旅館, a type of traditional Japanese inn) and saw many geishas on the streets there. It was expensive to take photos of them, like $7 USD. But they were beautiful. We’ll go to Hokkaido next time to have cheese cakes [laugh].
B: This time we were hoping to see all the colors of the leaves, which was great.
A: We went to Meiji Jingu Shrine yesterday and saw autumn leaves. We went to Hakone last time. We could see Mt. Fuji from our hotel.
B: We’ll enjoy skiing and eating crab in Hokkaido [laughs].
A: Onsen (温泉, a Japanese hot spring) outside in the snow! I love Japanese culture and people. They are so respectful and honest. Japan is the only country in world where I don’t need to look over my shoulder, and no tipping!
B: We just love all the streets in Japan. There are izakaya places.
A: We walked the ginkgo avenue in Omotesando. It was so beautiful. There was a fair in front of Meiji Shrine. And we enjoyed kaiseki (懐石, a traditional multi-course Japanese dinner) dishes at a restaurant near the Imperial Palace last night. It was so good!

Opinion & Question: We love Japan! We love all the coffee shops.
Why is nobody drinking coffee while walking like in US?


Women from France

A: We arrived in Japan in the beginning of last week. We came here for business. We’re working in the cosmetics industry. But we spend time as tourists on the weekend.
B: We’ll stay only in Tokyo this time.
A. We’ve been here many times. I’ve only been to Tokyo, though.
B: I went to Osaka two years ago. I’ve never been to Kyoto.
A: We like Japan very much. We tried almost every type of Japanese food.
B: I love tempura udon (うどん, wheat flour noodle). I don’t remember if I had takoyaki in Osaka [laughs].
A: Sushi is great.
B: We went to a restaurant and ordered sushi with an iPad. Then sushi placed on a little train-shaped dish came just in front of us really fast! It was like “Shinkansen of the sushi” [laughs]. It’s very cheap, very fun and very unique. We can’t find that elsewhere.
A: We saw and tried things that were very different from things in France. We tried to experiment as far as we could and discover the Japanese way of life, which was very interesting.

Question: Why do Japanese people love French people so much?


A couple from the Philippines

Man: We came to Japan three days ago. But we also came here last February.
Woman: We came to Tokyo at that time, so this is our second time being here.
Man: We’ll stay in Japan just for four days. We’re leaving tomorrow.
Woman: We stayed here for six days on our previous trip. But this is like a weekend trip. Yesterday we went to Kamakura.
Man: We went there a bit early so it was not so crowded.
Woman: And we went to Odaiba. We enjoyed ourselves at DECKS Tokyo Beach and Tokyo Joypolis.
Man: We went to izakaya, too.
Woman: We’re very adventurous, so we go to see anything. We went to Tsukiji.
Man: We had otoro (大トロ, pink fatty tuna) there. It’s like wagyu (和牛, Japanese-produced beef).

Man: Japan is very beautiful.
Woman: It’s very clean and disciplined. Discipline is something we don’t have in my country. And people here are so respectful.
Man: Every time we come here it’s like, “Wow, sugoi!” (“Great!”)
Woman: And we really enjoy the cold weather.

Man: I’ve been to San Francisco before when I was a child.
Woman: I’ve been to other Asian countries such as Indonesia (Bali), Singapore, Cambodia, and South Korea. But my favorite country is Japan.
Man: In Japan, everything is very easy. For example, it’s easy to take trains and go around the cities.
Woman: People said to us, “Whenever you want to come to Japan, you just come back again!”

Question: Why are Japanese people always in a hurry?


A man from France

This is my second time in Japan. I stayed here for three months when I came to Japan for the first time three years ago. I was in Tokyo for one month and then went to Hiroshima, Nagano, Mt.Fuji, then went back to Tokyo in order to take training. I’m a martial artist who does karate and iaido (居合道, a Japanese martial art that emphasizes being aware and being capable of quickly drawing one’s sword and responding to sudden attacks).

I come to Japan to learn those kinds of martial arts from some sensei who are living in Tokyo. I arrived in Japan on November 1st and will leave here for France at the end of November because I want to spend Christmas with my family. I undergo training and walk 20km every day while I’m in Tokyo. After going back home, I’ll teach my students there many techniques that I learned here in Japan.

“Thank you for welcoming people who visit your country.”
*With the cooperation of Kaoruko Michelin


A man from Australia

I’m from Brisbane. I only wear short-sleeved shirts but it’s not cold because I’m insulated [laughs]. I came to Japan for sightseeing about three weeks ago. This is my first trip to Japan. I’ve been to Hakone, Kyoto, Osaka and Miyajima in Hiroshima Prefecture. I went to Matsumoto in Nagano Prefecture and Himeji in Hyogo Prefecture too because I like anything older than my country such as castles. I like being in old buildings because you don’t see them in Australia. Everything is new there. I’ve been to the Southern part of Japan, so I want to come back and go up North.

In Japan, trains go everywhere and it’s so easy to take them. And the food is also awesome. I like all kinds of food. But I haven’t had natto yet. I will probably have the international reaction to it like the one people have to Vegemite [laughs]. I found some trouble while ordering at restaurants because I don’t know any Japanese, but most of the times there’s English menus. It’s really good and really easy. And you know, it’s also a bit of fun if you don’t know sometimes.

Question: What is the greeting everyone says?


A couple from Nepal

Man: I’ve been in Japan for five years. I’m working in the oil industry.
Woman: I’ve been here for one year. Japan is a very good country. People are so good and friendly. So I like Japan. I used to work in a restaurant at a hotel near Tokyo Disney Resort. My favorite food is nabe (鍋, a variety of Japanese hot pot dishes), especially kimchi nabe. We made it last winter. I also like ramen and gyoza.

Man: We met with each other when I was a college student in Nepal. Both of us were living in the same area and I met her when I went back home from Kathmandu. Then I was interested in going to Australia, but I decided to come to Japan because I heard that it was a nice country from my friend who was in Japan. I liked this country when I came here for the first time.
Woman: I used to study Japanese at home, but I can’t speak the language properly yet. I’ve had no troubles in Japan so far, but sometimes I miss home especially when I’m alone while he works. I talk to my family through messaging apps, but I still miss them.
Man: I visit home once two years.
Woman: We’ll go back home next year and stay there for one month.
Man: Sometime we go to Nepali restaurants. There are a lot of them in Shin-okubo. It’s becoming a Nepal town.

Question: Why do Japanese people like natto?


Thank you very much for your cooperation!

…Who wants to ask the next question?


Rikugi-en Garden, Bunkyo-ku

*Interviews by Ayako Aoki, Fusae Morita, Yoshiko Miyazaki
*Photos by M. Iwakubo


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