Many people from Asian countries are now working and studying in Japan. What made them decide to come to Japan? In “Japanese Dream,” we interview them and introduce their dreams and ambitions that they hope to realize in Japan.
In our fourth interview, we spoke with Vishal Bose from India, who works as an engineer. He shared a plethora of experiences, ranging from the challenges of working and living in Japan to amusing mishaps.
Firstly, could you please introduce yourself?
My name is Vishal Bose. I am a 28-year-old from India. I arrived in Japan in April 2022 and have been living here for ten months. I work as an engineer, and my stay in Japan is limited to one year. I will be leaving Japan on April 10th.
I’m experiencing many things I never imagined and learning a great deal for both my professional career and personal life. I’ve been collecting numerous memories along the way. Earlier, the company I worked for in India sent me to Japan to work with clients, and through this experience, I’ve been learning a lot about Japanese standards. In my personal life, I’ve also learned about the living ethics and lifestyle in Japan. That’s a brief introduction about myself.
From Dream to Reality
What was your view on Japan before you came here?
For me, coming to Japan was like a dream. Initially, I was supposed to arrive in 2020, but unfortunately, due to COVID, I had to wait two years. Otherwise, I might have stayed here for three years. However, I currently have reasons to return to India temporarily, and I might return later.
In Japan, I was drawn to the anime culture, the beautiful scenery, and the kind and polite people. Once I arrived, I began to understand the practical aspects of life here. Life here is more practical than the fascinating image I had in India. So, I would say that living in Japan is a more realistic experience than what I initially imagined.
When you start living in Japan, you see the real aspects of life, like how to live and work here. Anyone in India who dreams of coming to Japan should know that it’s not easy to survive here. You have to struggle, cook, and adjust to the atmosphere and situations in Japan.
Did your view on Japan change after you actually start working in Japan?
Working in Japan initially proved challenging, as I had to learn the basics of understanding the local people and their expectations. There are differences between people in India and those in Japan. Having lived in India for 28 years, I suddenly had to adjust and become acquainted with the people here, understanding their perspectives, and feelings towards us, and how to negotiate with them.
Professionally, I had to learn from experience how to communicate with them effectively. There was a language barrier, but fortunately, people in my company and team spoke English, making it easier. Over time, I also had to learn Japanese because expressing myself in their language allowed for clearer communication.
This experience changed my perception of Japanese people. Initially, I thought they were all polite, but it’s not entirely the case. Yes, they are polite, but you also need to be polite to maintain a balanced relationship, create a stable work environment, and understand them better. So, when you come to Japan, you will get to know the people much better than when you’re in your country.
What kind of languages do you use while working in Japan?
At the beginning of my work in Japan, the company provided English translators and interpreters, which made things easier for us. But now, after being here for about ten months, they expect us to also learn the language. So, we’re also putting in the effort to learn Japanese.
Fortunately, there are always people who can speak English, including some Japanese individuals and people from other countries like Turkey and the Philippines. This makes it somewhat easier for us to adjust compared to those who suddenly have to make Japanese friends and learn the language. For them, it’s quite challenging, but for us, it’s more of a gradual process with no pressure. In that regard, I feel somewhat lucky.
Challenges and Funny Mishaps
Do you have any difficulties living in Japan?
I have faced difficulties. Just recently, the lock on my room broke, and I ended up staying outside for about 1 to 2 hours. I didn’t have the helpline number, so I started looking around my building. Fortunately, I found a board with a helpline number on it, but it was already late, around 10:30 to 11:00 p.m., and the temperature in my area was about 0 degrees Celsius, so it was quite cold.
After making two to three calls, they finally picked up, and the person on the other end spoke fluent Japanese, which I struggled to understand. I tried my best to communicate using the little Japanese I knew, like “chotto wakarimasu. (I can understand Japanese a little bit.)” Fortunately, they soon provided me with an English interpreter, which made things easier for me. They asked for proof that I lived in the apartment, such as the name of the company and how long I had been living there. I was already exhausted from standing outside in the cold, but I had to deal with the situation to get back into my apartment. I couldn’t break the lock myself, as the system was different than what I was used to in India. They told me they would send a mechanic within an hour, so I requested that they send someone as soon as possible because it was cold outside. Luckily, the mechanic arrived in exactly an hour. The mechanic was Japanese but very polite. He managed to unlock the door in just five minutes, which was a relief.
That night was an unforgettable experience in Japan. Although the people I encountered that night were very professional, they might struggle to understand the challenges foreigners face. Thus, I’ve learned that as a foreigner in Japan, I must be prepared for unexpected challenges and be ready to tackle them.
What was the most memorable event while living in Japan?
I have a funny incident to share, although it may not be as amusing to you since it was a mistake on my part. I was in a larger bathroom that has emergency facilities for people with disabilities and senior citizens. They have an emergency button that, when pressed, alerts the security personnel to assist.
I was unfamiliar with the Japanese toilet systems, so I accidentally pressed the emergency button, thinking it was a flush button. I pressed it multiple times, and then I noticed a red signal light indicating trouble. I used the Google Translate app on my phone and realized my mistake. I flushed the toilet and quickly left the bathroom to avoid being caught by the security personnel.
Although it was a mischievous thing to do, it was unintentional due to the language barrier. I felt guilty about it and realized that if the button had been labeled in English, I would not have made that mistake. Overall, it was not a funny experience but a learning opportunity.
Since you’ve been here for ten months already, have you experienced any cultural differences between India and Japan?
In terms of food, many Indian people are vegetarians, and some don’t eat beef. For vegetarians, it can be quite challenging in Japan because most Japanese dishes contain non-vegetarian ingredients like fish and eggs. So, for those who are vegetarians who come to Japan, it’s essential to know how they cook the meals, whether it’s Indian cuisine or something else.
One significant difference that I appreciate is the cleanliness. The environment is clean, the atmosphere is pleasant, and the food quality is excellent. Additionally, the area where I live isn’t too crowded, providing a peaceful environment in which to work. In Asian countries, there tends to be more crowded, and people socialize and interact more with each other, which is a noticeable difference.
Breaking Language Barriers and Improving Social Interaction for Foreigners
What changes do you think should be made in Japan to make it more attractive to Asian people?
The first thing that comes to mind is that if Japanese people could learn English or be more willing to speak English, it would be helpful. I’ve heard that they feel shy to talk with foreigners, and while they are polite and shy, I respect that. I don’t dislike it, and they should be as they want to be. However, if they want to socialize with foreigners or people coming from Asia, sometimes they should also take the first step. I understand it’s not easy, but we need to make an effort together. You cannot clap with one hand; it takes two.
What are your thoughts on developing more effective, successful, and inclusive channels and programs for Asia and Japan?
Since I’ve been busy working in Japan, I haven’t had much time to explore these Asian programs, channels, and other resources. I’m fortunate enough to be aware of the channel and programs, and I think they’re excellent. They offer us the opportunity to speak on camera so that people can see our videos and learn from our experiences. Individuals living in other Asian countries often dream of coming to Japan, so it’s crucial for them to learn from those already living here.
These programs provide us with a platform to speak, share, and disseminate information. I believe there should be even larger programs, and I would like to participate in events where I can interact with others. Overall, it’s a valuable platform.
Do you have any advice for Asian people who want to study and work in Japan?
I would say it’s always great to experience something new and adventurous. However, if you’re coming to Japan, I recommend creating a list of things you need to take care of. You can also seek advice from fellow citizens living here. While it’s exciting to embark on new adventures, it’s essential to take precautions when entering a new country, especially when you’re unfamiliar with the places and rules you must follow.
I advise learning from others’ experiences, so you can build your own knowledge and later share it with people planning to visit Japan. In this way, knowledge is passed around, helping everyone become more aware and informed.
What are your dreams or ambitions in Japan?
That’s a great question. I have big dreams, but I would need to stay here for a long time to achieve them. My dream in Japan is to travel to every part of it, whether by cycling or hiking through the mountains and visiting every place, like Kyoto, Hokkaido, Osaka, and Nagoya. My time here has been limited, so I haven’t been able to visit many places, but I have visited some. If possible, my dream would be to travel to every prefecture in Japan to see the different people and places.
Since I’m living in Tokyo, it’s hard for me to form an opinion on the rest of Japan. It would be premature to judge them. It’s somewhat unfair to compare Japan with other countries without experiencing all it has to offer. If I could travel everywhere and meet various people, I could form a more accurate opinion.
* This article is based on information from January 2023.