JUNE 2022 (VOL.176)
Thelma Run Heimisdottir
What do you do in Japan?
I work for Hollywood Reporter Japan as a PR manager and producer.
What aspect of Japanese culture is interesting to you?
I find Japanese work culture and the Japanese people’s attitudes to work highly interesting.
What is the distinctive difference between your own country and the Japanese lifestyle?
Icelandic people are more laid back. We don’t stress out or live a fast life. Everything is quite slow, and if we run into problems we usually say; “Þetta reddast” which means “なんとかなる”.
What do you miss about your maternal country living in Japan?
I mostly miss the nature. In Iceland, there aren’t many people so you can travel just 10 minutes out of the city and be alone for hours and be one with nature. It is so calming and amazing for mental health.
What do you find different about living in Japan over the term compared to when you first arrived or came as a tourist?
I came here as a student and now I am working in Japan. So a lot has changed and a lot is different. Being a student in Japan is just so much fun. You are partying, hanging out, traveling, and enjoying the country. Working is a lot more stressful, constantly having to be careful of what you say and do. 11 hours of my day is dedicated to work (including transportation), so I cannot travel or do the things I was able to do before as a student.
What do you appreciate most about Japanese culture?
Omotenashihospitality. I love Japanese people, even though sometimes it can be frustrating to communicate with them. Japanese people, at their core, are so helpful and understanding. They do try to understand the people around them and help them. Which I find is a rare quality to find within foreigners.
Which places in Japan do you recommend that foreigners see?
ALL OF IT! Japan is amazing. You have the city life in Tokyo, the historical sights in Kyoto, snowy Hokkaido, and the relaxing beach life in Okinawa. Go everywhere and talk to the locals. The locals make the experience fun.
What parts of Japanese culture do you recommend that foreign people try to experience?
A bounen-kai (year-end party). It is so much fun. It is a kind of party to celebrate at the end of the year.
Are there any aspects of Japanese culture or its people that you find bizarre or unique?
Yes, I do find it strange how shy Japanese people get, even as adults. Usually, teenagers in Iceland get shy or embarrassed but as they age they lose that shyness or feeling of embarrassment but Japanese people don’t seem to.
What is your favorite Japanese food?
Okonomiyaki! It is a salty Japanese pancake with veggies, egg, meat or seafood.
Were you hesitant to relocate to Japan?
Absolutely not. Since I was a kid, I always knew I would live in Japan someday.
Since moving to Japan, have you had any funny experiences?
I have had plenty of funny experiences. Once I was walking in the rain in brand new high heels, I took them off because they really hurt and I was walking barefoot in the rain. Then this man I don’t know came up to me and asked me if I was okay. He said I shouldn’t be walking barefoot in the rain, it’s dangerous. So he offered to give me a piggyback ride home. I refused but he insisted. So I jumped on his back and he took me home ☺
Would you like to continue to live in Japan for the rest of your life?
I will live in Japan. It’s my home now.
I was born in Iceland, lived in England for 10 years, moved back to Iceland and lived there for 10 years. Then I came to Japan and I have lived here for 7 years. More than half my life has been spent outside of Iceland. I feel the most at home in Japan so I would love to live here.