I LIVE IN JAPAN / Gregoire / Graphic Designer

JANUARY 2023 (VOL.183)


  • Home country/state /city:Paris, France
  • Occupation:Graphic Designer
  • Duration of living in Japan:2 Years
  • Why do you live in Japan?:Currently looking for a job

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

I miss going to movie theaters.  In Paris, you can see a lot of interesting movies from all around the world for very cheap.  French people like to go see movies much more than Japanese people.  That is a part of French culture, I think.  In contrast, Japanese people are less interested in films. And you know, of course, I also miss the food of my country, especially cheese, wine, and my grandmother’s cooking.  French cheese and wine are expensive here.  But it is normal, as exportation fees and taxes are included.

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

I realized that it is not that hard to live in Japan if you can speak Japanese.  At first, I was a bit scared because of my language skills.  But I don’t have a problem now.

What do you appreciate most about Japanese culture?

Food.  I’d like to travel all over Japan and try all the specialties of each region.  Every dish is incredibly high quality and so unique here! You should try it when you come to Japan.

Which places in Japan do you recommend that foreigners see?

At first, Kyushu is a must-see.  The food is great, the people are nice, and there are many interesting places to visit.  I really liked the Sunamushi Onsen in Ibusuki.  You can take a bath in the warm sands on the beach.  It is so comfortable and refreshing after the Sunamushi Onsen.

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

Again, surely food!  Even if it’s scary at first they should challenge themselves and try delicacies that you can’t find outside Japan like torisashi (raw chicken) or shirako (fish «semen»)!  There are many special things you probably have not eaten before.  It’s worth a try!

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

Japanese people’s way of thinking is very different from what we find in Europe or America.  It takes time to understand and accept.  So please be patient and tolerant until you can get all the meaning.  There are many connotations.  To understand it, we need some experience with Japanese culture.  The way of communication is not as direct as in Europe and the USA.

What are your favorite Japanese foods?

I love pretty much everything, but if I have to choose… I eat a lot of soba and tempura, and now it’s summer so of course Kakigori (shaved ice).  It is a Japanese ice dessert.  Sometimes, they use natural ice that comes from cool areas, which makes it so delicious with a silky texture.  There are sweet sauces such as green tea, strawberry, melon, lemon, Japanese sweet bean “azuki” or condensed milk.

Were you hesitant to relocate to Japan?

Yes, I was at first!  But not at all anymore.  I am used to it and it is great to be here.

Since moving to Japan, have you had any funny experiences?

I spent many nights with friends older than me.  I went to Japanese “Snacks” and sang karaoke with elderly Japanese people whom I had never met before.  Until sunrise, we ate, drank, talked, and sang together.  What a great experience!  Snack is a kind of bar.  There is usually an elder woman that is called “mama” at Snacks.  Mamas are always cheerful and interesting people.  Snacks are a part of ancient Japanese culture of the “showa” era.  It is a cozy place.

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

I would like to stay in Japan for the rest of my life.  I love France but I feel much better here for obvious reasons, such as Japan being safe, clean, and convenient.  My other reason is that I want to discover more about Japanese culture: this makes my everyday life so much fun! It is an amazing experience and I want to continue it.

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.