Last week was spent in the town of Akashi, about 25 minutes west of the more well-known city of Kobe. I was longing for a respite from the stress brought about from my internship saga. It was hear that I met the wonderful Yukiko, who’s beautiful English and sunny disposition made her a real comfort. The night before I left she kindly agreed to partake in a little interview, as well as a photoshoot worthy of a Knorr Cup-a-Soup advertisement.
Yukiko, what is your story?
[Giggles]. Well, I am trying to have a baby. I am undergoing fertility treatment at a clinic in Motomachi. Tomorrow I will find out if the implant has been successful. It is my seventh time trying. But I will not give up. I actually live in Manchester with my Slovak husband. We met in Osaka. My hometown is Matsuyama in Shikoku. The area is famous for its manderines and noodles. There’s not much to do there but it is a beautiful place. I work for Etihad Airlines customer services. I usually have to listen to Japanese customers’ problems, and sometimes even Korean and Chinese customers. They assume I can understand them because I am Japanese! My college major was actually Russian literature but it isn’t very useful!
Is there an aspect of Japan, or Japanese culture that you feel particularly proud of?
The Japanese spriit has gone but the philosophy still exists. We are hospitable and kind people. In Shinto religion each object or person is representative of God, so we are taught to treat possessions and people well. Especially when disaster hits, we help each other. However, I don’t think Japanese character fits a capitalist mindset.
As a local what would you say are the biggest issues facing Japanese society?
I think it is very sad that the suicide rate is becoming so high and that bullying is so bad. Inidividual Japanese people are very nice but when in groups we can be dangerous. When there is a boss, everyone becomes a follower and it creates problems. I feel people work far too long hours but not efficiently. When they aren’t at a desk they are drinking sake with friends. I feel there is no freedom. But most Japanese people don’t have any other choice. They don’t know how Europeans or other people live. So they think its natural and carry on their lives. Also, it is a mass consumer society. People have to sell and consume a lot of things to keep the country going.. My brother is working in Yokohama. He has to go to work at 7am and returns home at 12 at night. He is married and has two kids. He says he is used to it now, but I feel sorry for him. I don’t think it is right.
Yesterday I received an email from Yukiko to tell me that she is pregnant. Seventh time lucky!