I LIVE IN JAPAN / Lisowska Magdalena / English Teacher

October 2023 (VOL.192)

Lisowska Magdalena

  • Home country/state /city:Warsaw, Mazovia, Poland
  • Occupation:English Teacher
  • Duration of living in Japan:Around 7 years
  • Why do you live in Japan?:Because it’s a beautiful country

Were you hesitant to relocate to Japan?

No, I dreamed of coming to Japan since I was a teenager.

After moving to Japan did you have any funny or interesting experiences?

When I moved to Japan, I got lost so many times.  I didn’t have a map either or a sim card.  I just asked for directions at convenience stores.

Can you talk about your activities in Japan?

I enjoy teaching children as well as traveling around and discovering delicious foods with my family and friends.  Japanese kids are so cute, and it is wonderful to teach them.  I love Japanese food.  It is much cheaper to eat them here.  Therefore, it is a great opportunity to live here for me.

What is the distinctive difference between your life in Poland and Japan?  Also how do you feel about people’s mentality?

Japan is more organized, convenient, and clean.  Japanese people are very hard-working.  I realized that whatever they do, they give their whole heart to it!  It is incredible.  They can think out of the box, they are very creative and passionate about their work.  But sometimes I worry that it might be too much and it causes a lot of stress for them.  But overall, I understand how Japanese people are hard workers when I live in Japan.

What do you miss about your maternal country living in Japan?

I miss my family and food.  I can’t find any alternatives here, which is normal.  The taste of family is unique in the world.  Family food reminds me of my home country and my childhood.  I think this is a shared experience for all of us who live in a foreign country.

What do you find different about living in Japan over the term compared to when you first arrived or came as a tourist?

When we are tourists, we just look at tourist places.  It is nice but it is like looking at postcards.  However, living here, you also face difficulties that can occur in daily life.  But, we must overcome them.  When we face problems, it is tough, but it becomes good memories later.

What do you appreciate most about Japanese culture?

Hospitality and manners! Japanese people are very polite. You see that they are quiet and calm in public places. They try to not bother others. While they can also help you in need with big smiles on their faces. I really appreciate it.

Which places in Japan do you recommend that foreigners see?

I recommend going and seeing Kamakura, Atami, Nikko, Osaka, Kyoto, and Sapporo!

Kamakura is an ancient city beside Tokyo.  It is easy to go there.  Sapporo is in Hokkaido in the northern part of Japan.  Foods in Hokkaido are great.  You should try it!


What parts of Japanese culture do you recommend that foreign people try to experience?

I recommend experiencing making mochi, which is sticky rice cake in a big wooden bowl with a big wooden hammer.  It’s so much fun, and it’s a very good exercise for your body.  Japanese people make mochi for the new year.

 In the countryside, they still have a tradition of making mochi at the end of the year.  If you have no chance to experience making mochi, you can buy it in a supermarket to taste it.  We eat it with sugar, soy sauce, or kinako powder, but there are various ways to eat it.

Are there any aspects of Japanese culture or its people that you find bizarre or unique?

I’m really amazed by old traditional festivals that Japanese people still celebrate like Setsubun, Hinamatsuri, or Tanabata (Star Festival).  It’s really interesting for me.  Setsubun is a kind of custom to drive away evil spirits from the house.  Hinamatsuri is a festival for girls.  It is surprising to keep this traditional custom!

Are there any aspects of Japanese culture or its people that you find bizarre or unique?

I really love sushi, udon, gyoza, shiitake mushrooms, miso soup, melon bread, and many many more.

Would you like to continue living in Japan for the rest of your life?

After so many years of living in Japan, I can’t imagine living somewhere else.  Here is my home, my life.  I hope I can live here for the rest of my life.

Writer: Minobu Kondo
Photojournalist in Tokyo, writing for Japanese and American magazines. Publishing an essay “101 of green stories” with the other Japanese artists such as Kosetsu Minami. Languages: Japanese, English and French.