I LIVE IN JAPAN / Zak Holt / Translator, Project Manager

APRIL 2023 (VOL.186)

Zak Holt

  • Home country/state /city:England
  • Occupation:Translator / Project Manager
  • Duration of living in Japan:7 years
  • Why do you live in Japan?:To work

Were you hesitant to relocate to Japan?

No, I wasn’t.  I’ve been to Japan a few times beforehand, and I knew I didn’t want to stay in the UK, so I was rather excited to move to Japan.  For the most part, even if you don’t know Japanese, or have limited knowledge of Japanese, you can still get around and enjoy yourself a bit.

What do you do in Japan?

I work as head translator and project manager for Peak Japan, a crowdfunding team based in Tokyo, Japan.  We take mainly made-in-Japan and Japanese-designed projects and bring them to the crowdfunding platform Kickstarter.  By doing this, we can help to bring a wide variety of products that wouldn’t normally be seen in the West to a much larger audience.  My main roles are to translate the project pages, while also dealing with admin regarding the projects, helping with the shipping preparation, and also giving input on how to appeal to western backers.

What do you think about working in Japan?

It’s ok.  Rush-hour trains are a bit of a hassle, but other than that, it’s ok.  Being away from my family can be tough since they are so far away, but the internet makes keeping in contact easy.  The food is pretty good, but I wish fruit and vegetables were cheaper.  

The work culture is different.  Previously our team was located in a large company which was a struggle, and as it was an older company with a Japanese way of thinking, they could be very set in their ways.  The team itself though has a very western style of thinking in some ways so it’s nice to not be tied to a super Japanese way of thinking.  The expectations can be a little bit too high sometimes I think though.

What is your dream?

Eventually, I see myself hopefully working only as a translator at a game company that I love.  I’ve loved playing games since I was a small kid, and the dream would be to eventually translate games like those that I played when I was younger.

What is the distinctive lifestyle difference between your home country and Japan?

I guess there’s a lot more focus on overtime work here, which is a shame.  For many larger companies, overtime is included in the salary which leads to longer working hours it seems.

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

Cheaper media such as Blu-rays.  A lot of media here can be rather expensive, and certain shows are a struggle to find here.  Cheap food, certain snacks, and so on can’t be found here unless imported.  That’s always a downside.

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

It feels easier to get about now, I guess.  That mostly comes in part with the time spent using trains and so on.  There’s not much other than that as I’ve always felt at home here.

What do you appreciate most about Japanese culture?

The customer service at checkouts.  People on the till in the UK can be an absolute nightmare, and it’s embarrassing when I go back to see how some shops are.

Which places in Japan do you recommend that foreigners see?

The outer parts of Kyoto prefecture during the fall.  Driving around the time when trees are starting to change color is something that is just really lovely to see.  Pretty much anywhere in the countryside is wonderful to drive about and the roads are rather safe as well so you don’t need to worry about it so much.

What are your favorite Japanese foods?

I like Japanese style curry and sushi.

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

I will probably stay here, I prefer it here, compared to the UK.



FB: https://www.facebook.com/PeakJapanProjects


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.