People in Japan: Akiko

Akiko PortraitLook no further if you’re searching for the best place to admire cherry blossoms. Located 28 kilometres away from the old castle town of Kawagoe, Satte might be the very place you’ve been dreaming of. From late March to early April, the city bursts with stunning pink along the vast fields of yellow rapeseed blossoms.

Other than the years when she worked in Singapore as a Japanese teacher, Akiko has been living in Satte ever since she was born.  As a lady devoted to teaching her native language, she has great advice for you Japanese learners below, so read on!

Describe your daily routine.

Akiko Routine

① Sleeping
② Arise and shine
③ Preparation
④ Commuting on the train
⑤ At work (if I have time, I’ll eat lunch)
⑥ Commuting on the train
⑦ Bath time
⑧ Self time (surf the Net, etc)

Which part of Japan do you live in and how is like living there?
Akiko: I live in Satte, Saitama Prefecture. My town is located in the countryside so the pace in lifestyle is very comfortable. I’ve been living in this town ever since I was born, so this is where I feel most at ease.

State one advantage and disadvantage of working in your town.
I have never really worked in my hometown before so I haven’t got a clue. However, I do understand that the salary here may be relatively low since it’s out in the countryside.

Source: Flickr

What tips would you give expats/tourists who are new to Japan?
As the culture, Japan has certain mannerisms and idiosyncrasies that expats/tourists might not be familiar with. There are certain things one should be mindful of, for example:

  • Some people sit on the floor in places such as department stores and train stations but this can be extremely impolite.
  • The Japanese are quite particular about their walking speed. Especially in Tokyo, people tend to walk in a hurry. It will be good to either keep with the pace or step aside when there is a large group behind you.

DSCF3832Tell us something interesting that most people wouldn’t know about your town.
The lifestyle here is very laid-back. It’s not something you can experience in Tokyo, though you can feel it the moment you exit the city by train. Also, my town is known for its cherry blossoms. There is a sense of pride when appreciating its beauty during cherry blossom season.

What activities would you recommend to tourists visiting Japan?
One good thing about visiting Japan is that there are countless of experiences, whether in the big cities or out in the countryside. There are various events and festivals unique to each season as well. Just do a little of research before travelling down! Here are some examples:DSCF3778

Spring: Cherry blossom festival; Children’s Day in May; Hydrangea Festival
around June and July.
Summer: Summer festival (it is different in every town); Fireworks display
Autumn: Halloween in Shibuya; Autumn leaf viewing
Winter: Christmas lights decorations; Skiing and snowboarding; Snow Festival
that is held only in Hokkaido

What advice would you give to someone learning Japanese?
Everyone has a different reason/motive for studying Japanese, but I would recommend lots of practice with speaking and listening to the language. Of course, grammar and vocabulary are important too, but even if you do not know many grammar structures or vocabulary, as long as you try your best to converse, the Japanese people will listen to you wholeheartedly.

Learn Japanese words!

在住者 (zaijuusha) – resident
通勤 (tsuukin) – commuting
勤務 (kinmu) – work/service/duty
町 (machi) – town
電車 (densha) – train
給料 (kyuuryoo) – salary
文化 (bunka) – culture
習慣 (shuukan) – custom
マナー (manaa) – manners
目的 (mokuteki)- aim/objective
練習 (renshuu) – practice