I LIVE IN JAPAN / Aranega Jonathan

SEPTEMBER 2019 (VOL.145)

Aranega Jonathan

Home country/state/city: France / Aquitaine / Arcachon

What do you do in Japan?  Can you talk about your job in Japan?

I came to Kyoto for 3 months before, and then for 10 years.  This year is a little bit special because I stay for 7 months.  My job allows me to continue my French work from Japan.  I am an editor for a French animation series.  I also take pictures and videos for my website “My Little Trip to Kyoto”. 

This is the website I’m managing with my wife who is Japanese and from Kyoto.  It presents different places to visit, restaurants, hotels, activities, etc.  I also make various videos for different clients in Japan.

What aspect of Japanese culture is interesting to French people?

I think it depends on age.  Younger people are interested in the technological and modern side, at first.  They are attracted to animation, manga, and video games.

But after entering the archipelago and settling in, the traditional Japanese culture such as temples, shrines, matsuri (festival), and culinary culture become more interesting!

People who are a little older are interested directly in those last point, I think.

What is the distinctive difference between your country’s and Japanese lifestyle?

Hospitality!  The Japanese are very nice and respectful.  I felt it in my everyday life, especially in shops and in transportations.  This is really nice.  

There is another difference that amused me — when I came here, I didn’t know how to eat noodles.  We try not to make noises in France while on the other hand, it is a custom to make noises by sucking the noodles in Japan.  This allows the flavors to spread more in the mouth.  It was a surprising cultural difference for me.

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

speaking the language and communicating well with people I meet.  I can manage Japanese, but if the conversations become a little complex, it is difficult to communicate and express well.  Then, I miss the cold cuts such as ham and the other cold meat food, too.  But on the opposite side, I will miss many things in Japan.  When I go back to France, small things of everyday Japanese life such as being calm, the punctuality of the public transport, the cleanliness of the streets, combini shops, 100 yen shops, and so on… Japan is full of things I will miss!S

What do you appreciate most about Japanese culture?

It’s difficult to get just 1 point that I like.  I love the soundness of Japan, there is no fear even when we come back late at night.  I also like the honesty of people.  Once, a friend forgot his camera in the shinkansen (bullet train), but the camera was found safe later.

Which places in Japan do you recommend that foreigners see?

As it is Kyoto that I know the most, I recommend taking a walk along the Kamogawa River during any season.  It’s a place that I really enjoy.  The cherry blossoms of the old railroad track “Keage Incline” and the path of philosophy are excellent.  In the summer, you should participate in the festival Gion Matsuri, and in the fall, visiting the temples Gio-ji and Hôgon-in are great.  And the light nocturnal of the temple Eikando is also recommended.

What are your favorite Japanese foods? 

I’m a fan of fish, so I love everything about sushi and sashimi. I also really like Japanese meat.  But if I had to choose the best of dishes, I would say the saba sushi (mackerel) with little hot sake!  This combination is the top!

Would you like to continue to live in Japan for the rest of your life, or do you think you will return to your home country?  If so, why?

A few years ago, yes, I thought about staying in Japan for the rest of your life. But now, I don’t think so, because my professional life is in France.  In addition, my work doesn’t allow me to come to Kyoto for several months a year.  But if one day I get a proposal for long-term work in Japan, yes, I will think seriously.