Hi, Tomomi here. Today I would like to introduce our new PR internship student, Rikka!!
Where are you from? I’m from Saipan. It’s a U.S. territory and a tiny island southeast of Japan located within a chain of 15 islands called the Northern Mariana Islands. It’s a bit confusing, I know. I usually tell people it’s near Guam and it generally gives them some clarity.
How long have you been in Japan and why? I’ve been in Japan for a good 5 years now. When I graduated high school in 2012, I didn’t really have any concrete plans, I was just sure that I wanted to go beyond Saipan whether that meant the states or Japan. My dad suggested I come to Japan and take time here to figure out my next move. After some time had passed, I found out about an English undergraduate program directed towards foreigners. Eventually, I got accepted to the University of Tsukuba and decided for my enrolment there. I graduated in fall 2018 and left Ibaraki prefecture, where I had stayed for 4 years.
Why did you choose Japan specifically? I chose to come to Japan originally not having clear plans, but because I knew I liked many aspects of Japan from a young age, I decided to come to Japan and stay with my grandfather in Kyoto. I was almost completely sure that I wanted to attend school in Japan. This had a lot to do with colleges in the states being much too expensive.
I see! And that’s why you’ve decided to come back to Kyoto, because of family? Not entirely. I originally stayed in a rural area of Kyoto when I first came to Japan. I wanted to be in more centralized areas and realized I wanted an experience outside of Tsukuba and Tokyo- or, the Kanto area in general. I really wanted to try staying within in the Kansai area and came to Central Kyoto to have that experience. The Kanto and Kansai area are frequently compared, so now that I had a taste of the Kanto area, I really wanted to stay in Kansai.
I’m really curious about what you have to say about Kyoto and feel readers would be really interested in a foreigner’s perspective. That being said, what do you like about Kyoto? I figure it might be cliché to say anything related to culture when it comes to Kyoto. You can experience many different aspects of Japan’s culture in various areas of Japan, but Kyoto is special because it was the original capital of Japan and presently, where most of Japan’s culture is preserved. Because a lot of tradition is preserved here, you can really feel “Japan”. I think Kyoto and maybe a lot of Kyoto-born citizens have a lot of pride in the culture and strive to keep it that way. These following points, in comparison to other prefectures, make Kyoto particularly charming to me:
· A lot of temples are walking distance from the station as Kyoto is home to remarkable temples · Seeing monks in public transportation or maiko in the streets aren’t at all unusual · Quite a few restaurants have been open since the Meiji era with amazing food · The aesthetic, muted old-style look of some streets or stalls- all the wooden architecture! · Souvenirs are handicraft, vintage, or is just really cute. (I personally have a really cute coin purse) · Walking in the streets is a personal pleasure for me · Nature, nature, NATURE! · Kyoto is incredibly (ABSOLUTELY) beautiful.
Could you tell us a bit about your experience in Japan so far? What difficulties did you face? I’m guessing it took some getting used to! Coming to Japan was a learning experience for me. I realized there were so many things about Japan I still had to learn and experience. I learned some cultural aspects about the Japanese from a book and from experience in different settings. When it comes to the basic foreigner-related issues, it was dealing with a lot of formalities because my language ability at the time was limited to everyday basic conversation. Because I lived alone too, I had to eventually get used to being independent in a foreign country which meant I had to get by somehow with a lot of kanji and more difficult vocabulary. But lucky for me, Google Translate is a great friend in these situations. Less technical difficulties I felt I had to face was overall communication when trying to develop relationships with people, but I think this is always an obstacle in intercultural communication. Quite honestly, the challenges are what makes it a lot of fun.
What were some of the highlights of your experience in Japan? What about in Kyoto? Some of my best highlights in Japan had to be hiking, travelling, and meeting people. One of my fondest memories in travelling had to be when I went to Yakushima’s Shiratani Unsui-kyo. It was an island south, offshore of Kagoshima which served as the setting for Hayao Miyazaki’s film “Princess Mononoke”. In addition to that, when it comes to Kyoto, I have to say the biggest highlight for me was always hiking up the mountains or learning about history at temples or museums. I still haven’t gone around enough yet in Central Kyoto but I’m looking forward to the fall season’s changing of colors.
What do you find to be some of Japan’s best aspects now that you’ve been living here for 5 years? From my 5 years of living here, I personally believe some of the best aspects of Japan has to be its nature, the kindness of its people, the values of doing your best and...the cheap conveyor belt sushi restaurants. I think these aspects will stay unchanged.
How are you adjusting as a new resident to Kyoto? I’ve been here for only a month and I still haven’t joined any communities, but I am currently planning and looking up communities to join and trying out new things I haven’t before like MMA. Hacarus is one new experience for me, I haven’t done a long-term internship before, and the work I am doing is also completely new to me. I joined Hacarus’s marketing team and my current job is mainly translating.
Why did you initially choose to apply to Hacarus? I applied for a number of internships on Wantedly, all of which were startup companies. In total, I attended 4 company interviews that operates in different industries. I initially applied to Hacarus being interested that it is involved in the medical industry and saw their article with Marcel that was written in English. To see that there was another foreign national like myself who would be working there was already a plus.
Was there something that attracted you to Hacarus? Because I got to meet the management team, including Hacarus CEO Kenshin Fujiwara, and had a much more casual interview without the corporate-like feel, I felt it would be a great choice to choose this company. From experience of job-hunting in Japan, I had many moments ranging from normal discomfort to extreme discomfort because of the interview atmosphere hahaha. For Hacarus, it was different. I was told from the outset that sharing my opinions or being open-minded here at Hacarus would not be an issue.
What did you feel about Hacarus after your first week there? I really appreciated the welcoming atmosphere of employees at Hacarus. Tomomi had guided me and was a big help during my first two days at Hacarus, introducing me to the facilities as well as all the communication tools used in Hacarus. For my first impression, I didn’t feel that getting integrated would be too hard, and I really liked that about Hacarus.
Final question, this one is for the readers and future applicants. What do you like about Hacarus and what do you think future employees will like about Hacarus? Something I liked is that everyone could work hard and seriously but didn’t throw out the fun. We could still make jokes (particularly Marcel, who is also always smiling!) at the table and comfortably have lunch. For traditional companies in Japan, I hear that being the first to take a break or taking a breaking at all can be discouraged through silence of the environment. In addition, everyone seems to have different “colors”. What I mean by that is, everyone seems to have different backgrounds and are very open to being friends. I was introduced to everyone, even to the Philippine team, and that has to be a very big strong point of Hacarus! I can say much more but I think I’ll stop there!