• The Secret to Having Fun with Japanese Study is Making Friends

    [From June Issue 2015]

    Ari TAMAT
    “I like Japanese architecture. Buildings in Europe are regulated because of the history of its cities, but in Japan, unique buildings keep popping up. In addition to this freedom of design, there is abundant funding available to implement advanced architectural technology. All this drew me to Japan,” says Ari TAMAT, from Indonesia. He speaks Japanese fluently and his pronunciation is perfect.
    Because of his father’s work as a scientist, Ari grew up in both Indonesia and Australia. “As a child, I spoke English better than Indonesian,” he says. “My father had traveled to Japan several times for work, and told me that Japan was the most technologically advanced nation in Asia and that the people were nice. That’s partly why I chose to study abroad in Japan.”
    A scholarship from the Japanese government enabled Ari to study in Japan. “I had already enrolled at the prestigious Institut Teknologi Bandung, but because I was going to study abroad, I dropped out after the first six months. I learned hiragana, katakana and basic conversational Japanese in Jakarta before I came to Japan in the spring of 1994.”
    He attended a Japanese school affiliated with Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, and during the course of one year acquired a proficiency in Japanese sufficient to graduate from high school. “Japanese grammar and pronunciation were not as difficult as I had imagined, but kanji were difficult to learn,” he says. “At the Japanese school we studied about 13 kanji every day. I practiced them repeatedly by writing and reading them out loud. I also tried to memorize them as pictures, to understand the concepts behind them and to compare their current meanings in Japanese with their original meanings in Chinese.”
    I think the reason my Japanese improved quickly is that the teachers and the program at the Japanese school were great. I was able to remember my lessons because the teachers made the classes fun by telling a lot of jokes,” says Ari. “Moreover, my classmates were exchange students from all over the world. We lived in the same dorm and used Japanese to communicate, which helped a lot, too.” In addition, Ari made Japanese friends outside his Japanese school; he joined an exchange group and in order to create more opportunities to use Japanese, participated in activities with Japanese people.
    Ari studied architecture at Yokohama National University. “The biggest difficulty I had was not being able to read my professors’ messy handwriting,” Ari laughs. “College life was very enjoyable. Together with my classmates, I designed and actually built a beach hut and constructed a booth for a school festival.” He went on to graduate school at Tokyo University and majored in city planning.
    Ari got a job in the real estate industry. “I didn’t have trouble using Japanese, but I struggled with business etiquette because I didn’t study it in college,” he laughs. “By observing my superiors and bosses, I learned how to exchange business cards, where to stand in an elevator, and where to sit in a room. In order to learn honorifics, I would recommend using them as often as possible so they come to you naturally,” he says.
    Now he works in finance. “I’m interested in work assisting Japanese companies to expand into Indonesia’s booming economy,” says Ari. “But I like Tokyo a lot, so I would prefer to keep on living here. What’s great about Tokyo is that it’s one of the largest cities in the world, and brings together unique places such Shinjuku and Asakusa,” he says with a mischievous smile.
    Text: SAZAKI Ryo












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  • I Improved my English while Learning Japanese

    [From May Issue 2015]
    Furat BANTAN
    “It’s gotten so that when I’m with non-Japanese friends in a restaurant, waiters only address me. Of course, I can speak Japanese and added to that, since I am of Indonesian descent, I appear to be Japanese, however I am a Saudi Arabian born and raised in Mecca,” says Furat BANTAN in a droll manner with perfect pronunciation. “I am Bantan, just like junbi bantan (completely ready,)” he jokes.
    Japanese anime and games are extremely popular with young people in Saudi Arabia. Bantan also became interested in Japan because of this. “I watched Japanese anime and played Japanese games that were not translated into Arabic with the help of English subtitles. Thanks to this, I became accustomed to the Japanese language and, since I often checked words in the English dictionary, I memorized English words as well,” he laughs.
    After graduating from high school Bantan won a scholarship from the Saudi Arabian government to study aboard and elected to go to Japan. “In Saudi Arabia, Japanese cars, air-conditioners, TVs and so forth are highly prized. I also wanted to learn about such advanced technology,” he says.
    When Bantan came to Japan he attended a Japanese language school in Osaka. “Teachers admired me and said ‘Bantan, your Japanese is very good,’ but my listening, pronunciation, and keigo (formal language) skills were all down to watching anime,” he says modestly. One year later, he entered the Tokyo Institute of Technology – one of Japan’s most prestigious universities.
    What awaited him at university were classes in which scientific and technical terms were frequently used. “I didn’t even understand which textbook I had to open. I asked the Japanese student sitting next to me ‘which one is it?’ and received an astonished look,” says Bantan. Moreover, the classes and textbooks were aimed at students who’d studied the curriculum of Japanese high schools. “Classes progressed as if I would naturally know things I had not learned at high school in Saudi Arabia.”
    Bantan could not keep up with the classes at all and he had to repeat his first year. “It was so difficult that I wanted to die. There was an exchange student from my own country in my dormitory, so we survived by cheering each other up. After all, kanji is difficult. Arabic letters are phonetic symbols, so I had a very hard time with kanji which have numerous pronunciations,” he says.
    Bantan bought textbooks written in English and studied by comparing the Japanese textbooks to them. “I taught myself from the most basic level with titles like ‘anyone can understand’ and ‘for Dummies’ (for people who do not know the subject). Because English was not my mother tongue, it was difficult to understand the contents. But I came to understand the technical terminology as I checked the equivalent term in English.” After about a year and a half of entering university he came to understand what was being taught in class. He passed the N1 grade of the Japanese proficiency test when he was in his senior year.
    He also experienced the Japanese system of job hunting. “Because Japanese companies demand that I act the same way as Japanese natives, I wore a suit and carried a bag just like them,” he says humorously. When (the then) Crown Prince Salman visited Japan from Saudi Arabia, Bantan acted as an interpreter. Currently, he works at a Saudi Arabian government office located in Tokyo. “I want to encourage interaction between Saudi Arabia and Japan. In addition, it’s my dream to someday start a business. I want to dedicate my entire life to creating the Bantan Group that will establish and run schools teaching Arabic, regular schools, mosques, and more.”
    Text: SAZAKI Ryo[2015年5月号掲載記事]

    バンタンさんは英語で書かれた教科書を買って、日本語のものと読み比べながら勉強しました。「タイトルに『だれでもわかる』とか『for Dummies』(わからない人のための)とか書いてある、いちばん低いレベルから独学しました。英語も母語ではありませんから、内容を理解するのが大変でした。でも専門用語は英語と突き合わせているうちにわかるようになりました」。入学して1年半ほど経った頃から授業がわかるようになりました。4年生のときにはN1に合格しました。

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  • Utilizing Japanese Language Proficiency to Secure a Dream Job

    [From April Issue 2015]

    “The other day when I went to a business networking event for various companies and made a presentation in Japanese, so many people rushed up to me to exchange business cards that I ran out,” says Nate SHURILLA in fluent Japanese. “Also, when I was job hunting, a broader range of options opened up to me because I could speak Japanese; this resulted in a job offer from one of Japan’s main mega banks. The ability to speak the native language gives you a huge advantage when it comes to securing a job in a foreign country.”
    Shurilla hails from the state of Wisconsin in America. “Before he got married, my father lived in Japan doing volunteer work for his church, and used to discuss his memories of this experience with me and taught me simple Japanese. Through this, I became interested in Japan, too, and elected to learn the Japanese language in my middle and high school years.” When it came time for him to enter secondary education, Shurilla applied to do volunteer work for his church and went to Japan, just like his father.
    At first, Shurilla was shocked because it was so difficult for him to understand spoken Japanese. “My first placement was in Yamagata Prefecture where I couldn’t understand a word the old people spoke. Later I understood that they had a unique dialect. However, the experience had a huge impact on me at the time and it made me think I had to study more Japanese. At the same time, though, I understood that the conversation would continue even when I did not understand the words, if I just smiled and said, ‘I see, I see,’” he jokes.
    Shurilla decided to study ten new words, two new grammar rules, and five new kanji every day. “I used store-bought flashcards and also read books. The first book I read had about 200 pages. It began to make sense at around page 150,” he says.
    When his two years of volunteer work came to a close Shurilla returned home and went to college. There he chose to take classes in Japanese where he studied grammar and the cultural background of Japanese expressions. “Thanks to the grammar lessons, I could systemize knowledge I acquired during my stay in Japan. Also, understanding Japanese culture is very important. For instance, I think the greeting ‘otsukaresama desu’ (thank you for your work) is uniquely Japanese. Bearing in mind that it comes from appreciating other people’s hard work and being considerate of their fatigue, you would know in which situations to use the expression.”
    When he was a college senior, Shurilla sat for the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) N1 and passed. He then applied for the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Programme and returned to Japan. “I returned to Japan because the earnestness and diligence of the Japanese people had made a big impact on me during my previous stay and I had begun to love Japan,” he says. “While working in Japan, there was a period when I was bothered by the interference of my direct supervisor, but I overcame that by talking to another boss at a higher level.”
    Now, Shurilla is working for a marketing company in Tokyo. “If you speak your native language and Japanese and have some kind of skill, like programming, you can find many job opportunities in Tokyo,” he says. “I am now involved in ‘Around Akiba,’ a project to promote the appeal of Akihabara to the world. I feel it’s an advantage to be able to speak Japanese, particularly when doing interviews.”

    Text: SAZAKI Ryo[2015年4月号掲載記事]

    今、シュリラさんは東京のマーケティング会社で働いています。「自国語と日本語、そして何かのスキル、例えばプログラミングができるなどの技能があれば、今の東京には仕事を得る機会がたくさんありますよ」と言います。「私は今、秋葉原の魅力を海外へ発信するプロジェクト『Around Akiba』に携わっています。特に取材のとき、日本語ができてよかったと感じますね」。


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  • Treasuring Friendships Made at Japanese School

    [From March Issue 2015]

    HU Shuhao
    YU Zhihang
    “We like Japanese comics and anime. We particularly like ‘One Piece.’ The passionate friendships between characters made a big impression on us,” say HU Shuhao and YU Zhihang from China. The two are currently studying at JCLI Language School in Shinjuku City, Tokyo Prefecture. “One of the good things about this school is that you can make friends with people from a variety of different countries. I became especially close friends with Yu-san because we have a similar liking for comics and anime,” says Hu. “Hu-san is like an older brother to me,” smiles Yu.
    Hu began studying Japanese during his third year of university in China. “It was because I was interested in Japanese society and culture. However, since my studies in China put an emphasis on grammar, I came to Japan because I wanted to study speaking,” says Hu. Yu says, “After graduating high school in China, I came to Japan because I wanted to go to a Japanese university. Since I had hardly studied any Japanese before coming here, it was very difficult in the beginning,” he says with a smile.
    There are approximately 700 students at JCLI Language School, and there are four semesters each year. “I entered the Beginner II class in April, 2014, and am now in the advanced class. I sometimes teach classmates struggling with kanji how to write the characters and the difference between “網” (ami: net) and “綱” (tsuna: rope),” says Hu. Yu says, “I entered the Beginner I class in April, 2014, and am now in the Intermediate class. I enjoy the lessons in which each student introduces their own country’s customs and culture.”
    The downside of living in Japan is that it costs a lot of money. About six months into his stay in Japan, Hu started looking for a part-time job. “I handed in my resume after seeing a poster in Uniqlo advertising for staff. I was overjoyed when I got the call telling me I was hired,” says Hu. Yu reflects, “About three months after arriving in Japan, I began searching for part-time work. I visited several convenience stores and left resumes. It took about one week to land a job.”
    They struggled numerous times during work hours because they didn’t understand the Japanese spoken by the customers. Hu says, “I did not understand the meaning of zaiko (stock), nor could I pronounce the name of our recommended product. It is challenging because particular terms are used for serving customers, and the products often have long katakana names.” Yu says with a smile, “I still wind up calling the manager when I cannot catch what the customer is saying.”
    They have recently become more comfortable with speaking Japanese. “Transactions that were once difficult at the bank and at government offices are now easier because I can understand Japanese. My part-time job is fulfilling not only because my Japanese has improved, but also because my knowledge of the products has deepened; I can now recommend products to customers and show workers with less experience than me where a certain product is located,” says Hu. Yu laughs, “When I understand the dialogue in anime, I am happy that my Japanese has improved.”
    Hu wants to “study sociology in a Japanese graduate school.” Yu says, “All I can think about at this point is trying my best to improve my Japanese.” They both enjoy spending their spare time with classmates. “We go out to drink or play games together. But we’re a little lonely as there aren’t any goukon (mixed-sex dating parties),” jokes Hu. Yu says, “I go sightseeing around Tokyo with my buddies. I adore Akihabara. Tokyo Tower and Rainbow Bridge are great, too.”
    JCLI Language School
    Text: SAZAKI Ryo[2015年3月号掲載記事]

    胡 書豪さん
    于 志航さん

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  • In Japan it is Important to Read Between the Lines

    [From February Issue 2015]

    RIO Tina
    “When I wanted to learn a second foreign language, I decided to choose Japanese,” RIO Tina from China says. “Japan was one of the countries I found appealing. I found it interesting that Japan, while being a developed country, properly preserved its old traditions. In addition, Japanese and Chinese businesses are tightly bound together.”
    After graduating from Shanghai University, Rio came to Japan in March 2008 and studied Japanese at Aichi International Academy in Nagoya City, Aichi Prefecture for two years. “It was a very productive two years. Not only was I able to study Japanese, but I was very satisfied with the level of support I received in my everyday life, which made my stay in Japan very secure,” says Rio.
    By continuing to work a variety of part time jobs while going to school, Rio’s Japanese ability improved greatly. Wanting to further her Japanese studies, Rio enrolled in the junior year of Nanzan University Business Administration Department in 2010 and majored in management environment theory. “The joy of studying a language is that you can easily gauge how much you have advanced,” says Rio.
    “I was glad when I was able to give directions around town to a Japanese person. In addition, I became able to properly articulate my thoughts in a sentence. When my composition won Takushoku University’s International Collaboration and International Understanding Award, I was very happy,” says Rio. “I think katakana is very difficult. Even when the word derives from English, I had a hard time as the pronunciation can be completely different. In addition, many names for people and places are read differently, which was puzzling.”
    Rio says she loves everything about Japanese food. “I especially like white flesh fish, oyster, and sushi. I often go to the standing sushi restaurants. Also, I always admire Japan’s clean environment and the courtesy of its people.”
    Rio now does sales work for a specialist food wholesaler in Tokyo. She is in charge of alcoholic beverages and corresponds with the major Japanese supermarket buyers. She uses Japanese at work and also English when dealing with imports. She says it is pleasant to suggest a product or sales space, while taking buyers’ interests into account.
    “I don’t deal well with the crowds in Tokyo. Rush hour here reminds me of my hometown, Shanghai,” Rio says with a smile. To recharge her batteries after a stressful work week and to get away from the crowds, on her days off she drives to the beach or plays golf with friends and colleagues.
    “There are many differences between China and Japan. In China it’s important to assert yourself strongly; you’ll lose out if you do not state your intentions in front of others. In contrast, in Japan it’s normal to state your opinion after assessing the situation. As they say in Japan, I feel it’s important to ‘read between the lines.’ At times people can be excessively sensitive to the moods of others, but it’s also a virtue,” Rio says.
    Aichi International Academy[2015年2月号掲載記事]

    呂 天吟さん

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  • Improving Japanese Ability by Being the Only Non-Japanese in the Workplace

    [From January Issue 2015]

    Lewis Winglam PONG
    “I started studying Japanese when I came to Japan in September, 2013. I took the N3 (Japanese Language Proficiency) examination in December and passed. I took N2 in July, this year, and passed again. This month I took N1,” says Lewis Winglam PONG, from Hong Kong. In 2013 he began working at the Japanese head office of Sojitz Cooperation. Now he is working as an investment advisor in the structured finance division.
    Pong majored in risk management and finance at Hong Kong University. Then, he went to study finance and management at a graduate school in the U.K., staying on to do an internship for two months. Before long, he got anxious about his parents and returned to Hong Kong, where he started job hunting. Then, he bumped into a friend who was employed by Sojitz who told him about working conditions there.
    “What impressed me was that the company was hiring people who were not able to speak Japanese at all and giving them six months intensive Japanese instruction,” recalls Pong. Pong did some research into Sojitz. Learning that the company was a general trading company of a type unique to Japan, and that it was doing businesses in various fields around the world, he was intrigued.
    “I became curious about Japan, too. Japan is poor in natural resources and suffers from many natural disasters, such as earthquakes. Despite suffering heavy damage in World War II, Japan regenerated itself in only a few decades to become the second biggest economy in the world,” says Pong.
    Pong applied for a job at Sojitz and was hired. There, he received intensive Japanese instruction. “During the first three months, I received lessons to prepare for the N3 test in the morning at Waseda University and studied in a group of two to three people with one Japanese language teacher in the afternoon. Over the next three months, I studied with a Japanese language teacher in the morning and did on-the-job training, in other words learning Japanese from my colleagues while we worked.”
    “Since I’m surrounded by Japanese people at work and the majority of business is in done in Japanese, it’s quite a challenge. For instance, at meetings, everybody speaks quietly and it’s sometime hard for me to catch what they’re saying. There were occasions when I could finally understand what the meeting was about after reading the minutes afterwards. In Hong Kong and the U.K., people try to show how confident they are by expressing their opinions in a loud voice, but in Japan it is a virtue to speak modestly. Also, when you have an objection, rather than say ‘I object,’ it’s customary in Japan to mention the reasons against it,” says Pong, smiling wryly.
    He also had trouble with honorific expressions. “It is much more complicated than in Cantonese. In Japan you have to adjust your level of respect depending on whether you are talking to your manager or to a senior colleague. With people outside your company, you have to use another set of expressions. Honorific expressions used for communicating with them change according to which side is asking for a favour. Now, however, I naturally produce honorifics whenever I feel a sense of respect,” he says.
    “I am hooked on snowboarding, which I started doing last year. I’m also enjoying golf,” says Pong, discussing his private life. “I used to think that if I’d gotten a job in Hong Kong, I wouldn’t have had such language difficulties. But now I feel that through studying Japanese I have widened my job opportunities. If I improve my Japanese, I’ll be given greater responsibility at work.”
    Sojitz Cooperation
    Text: SAZAKI Ryo[2015年1月号掲載記事]


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  • Inspired To Go To Japan By Japanese Idols

    [From Decemberber Issue 2014]

    “I like Japanese idols,” says Rassawan KONDEJADISAK, describing the interest that brought her over from Thailand to Japan. “I especially like Johnny’s ‘Hey! Say! JUMP’ When I was watching their concerts on TV programs and DVDs, I felt I wanted to study Japanese because I wanted to understand what they were saying.”
    Rassawan came to Japan in 2011 and without delay entered Yokohama Design College. Although the school specializes in design, they also have a Japanese language course aimed at foreign students. Rassawan, who had not studied Japanese before, started with the basic reading and writing of “a, i, u, e, o.”
    “I did not understand any Japanese,” says Rassawan. “I could not read books nor magazines and I could not understand what they were talking about on TV. At first I was quite worried because I could not even manage basic conversation. But by continuing with my studies, I gradually became able to understand Japanese and that made things surprisingly enjoyable.”
    “Now I can read books that I could not! I can understand conversation that could not! Before I knew it, the uneasiness in my heart changed to joy. I wanted to study more and more every day and I wanted to know more about things I was ignorant of.”
    “Although three years have passed since I started to live in Japan, there are still many things I cannot understand about the Japanese sensibility. Why do I have to do this? Why don’t I have to do that? Sometimes it is a mystery to me. There are some similarities to the Thai way of thinking, but other things are totally different.”
    “I felt uneasy when I became a fully paid up member of Japanese society. But I don’t want to limit myself to just Japan and Thailand, I want to understand the feelings of people in other countries, too.” Rassawan is now doing PR work at Relation Japan., Inc., promoting Japan to Thailand. The company produces advertisements for Japan in various media, including travel magazines and TV, it also operates booths at travel fairs. Rassawan is in charge of design and of communication with Thailand.
    “Japan is a country that places importance on public order. It is quite different from Thailand, which has an easy-going attitude. But I am really happy because the people of both countries are kind hearted.” On her days off, she often goes to Shibuya, Harajuku, and Omotesando. “I enjoy going to stylish cafes. I like reading books in such places. And, of course, in the concert season I go to concerts!”


    「私は日本のアイドルが好きです」とタイから来たラッサワン・コンデッチアディサックさんは日本に興味を持ったきっかけを話します。「特にジャニーズの『Hey! Say! JUMP』というグループが大好きです。テレビ番組やDVDでコンサートを見ているとき、彼らが何を話しているのか知りたくて、日本語を勉強したいと思いました」。
    「今まで読めなかった本が読める! わからなかった会話がわかる! 心の中にあった不安感がいつの間にか楽しさに変わりました。毎日もっと勉強したくて、知らないことをもっと知りたいと思いました」。

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  • Coming to Japan on a Working Holiday Visa

    [From Novemberber Issue 2014]

    Ada TSO
    “I came to Japan on a working holiday scheme and I’m enjoying working and traveling,” says English language teacher Ada TSO. “I’d recommend working holidays to people who’ve just graduated from college and to those who want to start a completely new life. I myself quit a job to come to Japan because I wanted to live and work here while I was still young.”
    Ada was born in Hong Kong and grew up in New Zealand. “Every day I communicated in Cantonese and Mandarin with my family and Chinese immigrant neighbors, while speaking English at school,” she recalls. “When I was a child, my older brother often watched Japanese cartoons translated into Cantonese and I enjoyed ‘Doraemon’ and other programs with him. That’s how I came to be interested in Japanese anime and manga. I love ‘One Piece,’” she says with a smile.
    Ada took Japanese language courses in high school and university. While still in university, she came to Japan on an exchange program and studied at Sophia University for half a year. “It was a marvelous experience,” she says nostalgically. “So many Japanese students wanted to be friends with foreigners. We traveled a lot together. Some of them came all the way to New Zealand to visit after I returned home.”
    After graduating from university, Ada worked for a radio station in Auckland. “I worked as a news reporter and also as a moderator in public debates before elections.” She left that job after two years and returned to Japan for a year.
    “It’s a pity that because I teach English, I don’t have much opportunity to speak Japanese,” she says with a wry smile. She doesn’t attend a Japanese language school. “That’s why, when I get the chance to speak Japanese, I try practice my conversation as much as possible. On my days off, I memorize grammar and words with study-aid books. Unlike my student days, I now work full-time and it’s hard to maintain my motivation for studying. To spur myself on, I’ve made a goal of passing the N2 grade (of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test) before the end of this stay in Japan.”
    Ada sometimes works as a narrator in English and Cantonese. Most companies, however, don’t want to hire foreigners with a working holiday visa. “That’s why the majority of people here on a working visa have no choice but to become English teachers,” Ada says regretfully. “People who want to improve their career prospects, would do better to obtain a working visa by finding a Japanese employer before entering Japan,” she says.
    “Prices are high in Japan, but there are ways to save money. I found this site called tokyocheapo.com and discovered there were cheap shops like 100-yen shops and Matsuya,” says Ada. She now lives in a shared house to save on her rent. “The lower cost isn’t the only benefit of a shared house. You also get to know people from different countries, so you can make friends to go sightseeing with around Japan.”
    Ada visits cafes in her free time. “For me, the ideal confectionary does not only taste good, but looks good and also smells good. I’m researching exceptional confectionary by taking photographs. After returning to New Zealand, I want to work and save money in order to have a cafe of my own one day. I think the experience of tasting sweets and green tea in Japan will be useful then,” she says.
    Text: SAZAKI Ryo[2014年11月号掲載記事]


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  • 地域ごとに異なる人の気質に興味

    [From October Issue 2014]

    Eleonora FLISI
    Eleonora FLISI came to Japan from Italy a year ago. She’s been working for the past half a year as a PR representative for a company that manages Italian restaurants and a catering service. Seventy percent of their clientele are Japanese, so she mostly uses Japanese at work. On hearing her speak she sounds as fluent as a native Japanese person, but, she says, smiling awkwardly, “I’m not good at writing. Handwriting is particularly difficult.”
    Eleonora started studying the Japanese language at university. An economics major at Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, she chose Japanese for her primary foreign language as the university was well-known for its Chinese, Korean and Japanese programs. “I also studied Chinese, but I chose Japanese because its pronunciation is closer to Italian.”
    During her studies, she twice made use of an exchange program to study abroad at Meiji University. She was surprised at the differences between colleges in Italy and Japan. “Colleges in Italy have neither sport events, nor school festivals. I didn’t have any seminar activities, either.” In those days, she lived in a dormitory and spoke Japanese with her non-Japanese roommate. Even now, she spends some of her days off with friends from those days.
    “I wanted to live abroad while I was still young. I thought Tokyo was safe and easy to live in.” She came back to Japan upon graduating and started life in Tokyo. Even though she had learned enough Japanese in her mother country and had studied twice in Japan, she studied at the Shinjuku Japanese Language Institute for the first six months. “I hardly used any Japanese in my last year in college because I had been concentrating on my graduation thesis. I had forgotten my kanji.”
    She says she finds grammar particularly difficult. When she doesn’t understand something, even after consulting a grammar book, she asks her Japanese friends. “It’s easier to understand because they teach me with example sentences that apply to particular situations.” She has a friend who’s knowledgeable about Italian matters. “She knows what Italians have difficulty understanding, so she fine-tunes her explanations for us.” Her Japanese has improved with help from such friends.
    That said she’s worried she won’t improve her Japanese further. “Starting from zero you make speedy progress. This slows down, however, once you’ve reached a certain level. That’s the stage I’m at right now.” She says she hopes other people studying Japanese in a similar fashion won’t give up.
    Eleonora is interested in food. She likes sashimi and ramen, and often makes yakisoba the way her friend taught her. She of course looks forward to eating delicious food when she travels around Japan. But she has another goal for these trips. “I want to discover differences between Tokyo and the rest of Japan,” she says. This is because she’s under the impression that people’s temperament differs between Tokyo and other regions.
    “I’ve recently been to Osaka. I was taken aback when someone said to me, ‘Where are you from?’ Tokyoites seldom come up to talk to me. Osaka’s citizens are like talkative Italians.” She and her Italian friends compare the lively character of Osaka people to those from Naples and the cool atmosphere in Tokyo to Milan.
    Shinjuku Japanese Language Institute
    Text: ICHIMURA Masayo[2014年10月号掲載記事]


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  • たくさん話ができるこの仕事が好き

    [From September Issue 2014]

    Rukshona ESHPULATOVA
    “When I can explain in beautiful and courteous Japanese, customers are pleased and say, ‘I’ll buy another one,’ or ‘Please help me next time, too.’ That makes me glad and gives me a sense of purpose; the more customers I’m put in charge of, the more my salary increases,” says Rukshona ESHPULATOVA. Rukhshona came to Japan in April 2013, and joined Somo Japan Inc. this January. She is in the car exporting business.
    Rukhshona is from Uzbekistan, a country in Central Asia. When she was a child, she encountered Japanese tourists and became interested in Japan. Then she learned the Japanese language from Japanese teachers at the Samarkand College of Tourism. “There are a lot of tourist attractions in Samarkand. I took the teachers there and guided them in Japanese,” Rukhshona says, reflecting back.
    However, she later enrolled at the Samarkand State Institute of Foreign Languages, which in those days did not have a Japanese studies department. Rukhshona studied in the English department and became a tour guide after graduating. “Because my major was English, I could not obtain the necessary qualification to become a Japanese-speaking guide. Before long I had forgotten Japanese,” she says regretfully.
    Rukhshona thought of going to Japan to study the language once again. Her older brother who lived in the United States helped her out financially. “I watched online videos of the classes provided at the various language schools in Japan. Out of them, I thought that the Academy of Language Arts in Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo, was a good fit for me. Most importantly, the teachers are friendly and cheerful. In addition, they let the students speak a lot while incorporating information useful in everyday life. I thought that their teaching methods were good,” says Rukhshona.
    Because prices in Japan are high, she had to start working part time as soon as she arrived. On weekdays, she would go to school from 9:30 am to 1:30 pm and then work afterwards at a restaurant until 11:00 pm. “Because I also worked on Saturdays and Sundays, I was very busy and it was tough. So I used to review the expressions that I learned during class at work the same day. In order to learn the words I did not know, I asked ‘kore wa nan desuka’ (what is this?) to my fellow part-timers,” Rukhshona laughs.
    Rukhshona was brought up in an environment where Tajik, Uzbek, and Russian were used. “Because I studied Japanese and English after I grew up, I use Uzbek as a reference when I speak Japanese since the word order is similar. English is close to Russian, so I use Russian as reference when speaking in English,” says Rukhshona. “Also, when I used to do guide tours in English, I learned to check if I was speaking well by observing the reactions of the person I was addressing, as well as ways to control my uneasiness when speaking in a foreign language. This experience has now come in handy with my Japanese study.”
    Currently, Rukhshona uses Japanese, English, and Russian for work. “I often explain things in Russian to customers as I read Japanese documents. English words written in katakana like ‘support’ and ‘inner panel’ were very difficult. However, as with difficult kanji, if I use it for work, I can remember it. Also, since I like talking, I love this job because I can talk to customers. I am very happy because I have a job that I love doing,” she smiles.

    Text: SAZAKI Ryo[2014年9月号掲載記事]



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