Q&A with Mr Kobayashi
This week’s feature is Mr Kobayashi. If you’ve ever had lessons with him, you will know that he is an animated teacher who likes to liven up the class.
Why did you choose to work at Bunka?
I found the job advertisement in Japan accidentally. I always say to my students that I came here because there’s a job opportunity.
What do you do on your day off?
I go to the gym, or swim. Sometimes, I stay at home to drink. I like Tiger Beer, but it is rather expensive, so I usually drink Raffles.
What do you miss about Japan?
Where is your current favourite hangout?
National Stadium. Kallang Wave is also convenient for me because I stay near the area.
What “Singlish” words have you learnt so far?
“Aiyo” – I use it at least 5 times a day. There’s also, “Wait ah, wait ah!”, and “Tabao”.
“Kopi Gao Siu Dai” – I order this at the coffeeshop. I also know “Kopi kosong”, although I don’t order it.
And also, “Nevermind lah!”
I don’t know much about Singlish, but it is an interesting language. You know Kansai-ben? I think it is similar to Kansai-ben in Japan. I think Singaporeans are proud of Singlish like how Kansai people are proud of Kansai-ben.
What are your favourite and least favourite local foods?
Favourite – Yong Tau Fu, Economy rice and Nasi Padang. Ever since Mizusaki-sensei introduced Nasi Padang to me, I got hooked on it. I can choose different dishes – much like economy rice.
Dislike – I don’t really like durian. I’ve never really tried pure durian – only mooncake. If I don’t think of it as a fruit, and if I don’t take it as pure durian, I actually don’t find it sweet at all. It feels like I’m eating something which comes with rice. Something like natto. It smells bad.
I also don’t prefer to eat Char Kway Teow – it looks unhealthy.
Of all the countries you have visited, which is your favourite, and why?
I love Australia. I went to Sydney more than 20 years ago, and I like the air and atmosphere there. I also like the people and Australian English.
What is/are your hobby(ies)?
In Singapore, I don’t really have any. But in Japan, I used to sing and dance in choir. I also played in musicals and operas.
What will you recommend to people who are planning a visit to Kyoto?
My favourite temple in Kyoto is Ryoanji. Fushimi-inari is a nice place too. In my hometown, there is a shrine called Iwashimizu Hachimanguu- it’s quite famous. Last year, it was selected as a National Treasure.
You must have experienced some culture shock when you first came to Singapore. Tell us about them!
At first, I rented a common room of a HDB. It cost $650/month, but I stayed in Japan in studio apartments, it cost about the same price. I couldn’t believe it was so expensive because not only did I not get my own room, the apartment was also quite old.
There are many Japanese shops in Singapore – like Daiso and Uniqlo – so it doesn’t feel like there is much difference as compared to Japan.
Also, in Japan, people are usually quiet on public transports, but not in Singapore.
What message would you like to leave to students who are currently learning the Japanese language?
Don’t be impatient. Each student’s pace is different when learning the language. Don’t be upset if you cannot catch up.
Mr Kobayashi: Ganbatte kudasai!