Miyazaki’s waves of enrichment
International discussion eventForeign immigrants & university students in Miyazaki
This discussion event we held with university students and foreign immigrants of Miyazaki was to hear their voices based on their experiences of living and working in Miyazaki.
Life in Miyazaki
Facilitator ：Yuka( Miyazaki / Photographer ) What are the good things about living and working in Miyazaki?
Herm(America / Illustrator & salon/cafe/bar owner) People, weather, palm trees… and definitely the cost of living. Just renting an apartment in Brooklyn costs a few hundred dollars more than having a business and a house in Miyazaki. It’s incredible!
Sarah(America / Assistant Language Teacher) Cost of living is amazing here. When I was living in Seattle, the rent was so high, so I needed to share a place with other people. I feel much less stressed when I have my own space.
Josefine(Sweden / English teacher) If you compare it to Hawaii or California, it’s much less too. I’m really happy that I can live with my husband peacefully. Don’t need to share a place with strangers. Just the two of us.
Josefine(Sweden / English teacher) I really like people here. I moved here last October, and I became attached to people so smoothly. Honestly, as a foreigner, I never thought it would be so easy.
Kevin(America / City hall worker) Yeah, I like how people are really friendly here too.
Yuka(Miyazaki / Photographer ) I actually hear that a lot from people who moved to Miyazaki from different places. Do you feel the same way when you work?
Rocky(Canada / Food & bevarage business owner) People in Miyazaki were incredibly helpful when I started my business here.When I visited every cafe in the city, people were so friendly to me even though I didn’t speak Japanese at all.They don’t mind explaining about how they run their business, where to get products and how to serve their products. When I managed restaurants in Toronto, we always needed to look into competitions. It’s pretty hard to be a business owner there. I was really impressed how people are willing to help each other here.
Sarah(America /Assistant Language Teacher) Coffee shops are advertising other coffee shops. That never happens in the US. People are more supportive of each other, and that’s very different from other places.
Yuka(Miyazaki / Photographer ) Interesting. I’ve never thought that was something special.
Nami(Univercity student) I’m actually surprised how Miyazaki people naturally say hello to strangers. I didn’t see that as often when I lived in Kumamoto.I don’t see aggressive drivers as much as other places either.
Herm(America / Illustrator & salon/cafe/bar owner) That is my favorite thing about Miyazaki. I lived in different cities in the US. Everyone is honking and I used to have so much anxiety when I drove. But here, nobody honks at me. I feel much more relaxed.
Josefine(Sweden / English teacher) Same in Sweden. Europeans have no patience either. I was shocked when I saw people slowing down just to let other cars in.
Sarah(America /Assistant Language Teacher) I feel much safer living in Miyazaki, and that makes me less stressed. When I was living in Seattle, I would not walk by myself at night unless I had pepper spray with me.
Struggles of living and working as a foreigner
Nami(Univercity student) As a foreigner who doesn’t speak Japanese, do you feel inconvenience when you go shopping?
Rocky(Canada / Food & bevarage business owner) It’s lonely, I have nobody to talk to. They don’t have my size for clothes. But the great thing is that they are willing to wait to understand me when I try my best to speak Japanese and communicate with some body language.
Josefine(Sweden / English teacher) It’s hard to get familiar with cash culture. I had not used cash for a long while until I came to Japan. In Sweden, we don’t use cash anymore. I haven’t had a wallet for a long time.
Rocky(Canada / Food & bevarage business owner) Same in Canada. You don’t even have to use a QR code. Just tap your phone and pay.
Yuka(Miyazaki / Photographer ) Have you experienced any difficulties by working in Miyazaki?
Mathew(America /Assistant Language Teacher) I was job hunting to keep living in Miyazaki until recently. Honestly, it was so difficult. If you are looking for a job that is not in a service industry, it’s even harder. The working hours and the mind-set are a little bit old school. To Find a job, you have to know a person who knows a person. It’s actually pretty similar to America where even if there are jobs, you won’t get them unless you have a ticket.
Sarah(America /Assistant Language Teacher) I’ve had 3 jobs here but it was really hard. There was no information. Especially if you are searching for jobs in English.
Kevin(America / City hall worker) I feel like a lot of foreign workers in Miyazaki have struggles with the differences of the technology or the system that are used in their offices. I actually needed some time to get used to that too.
Rocky(Canada / Food & bevarage business owner) I guess in a foreigner's eyes, Japan is a very high-tech country, but the reality is pretty far from what we think. A lot of things they sell, they don’t really use in their own country.
Mathew(America /Assistant Language Teacher) It’s kind of a joke among foreigners in Japan. We are still using fax machines in Miyazaki even though we have Emails.
Josefine(Sweden / English teacher) It almost feels like 20 years behind the times.
Sarah(America /Assistant Language Teacher) I feel that work takes longer because it isn’t as efficient.
Rocky(Canada / food & bevarage business owner) Do you still hand in physical copies of your assignments at university? (Addressing to the students)
Ayumi(Univercity student) Yes. Sometimes.
Rocky(Canada / food & bevarage business owner) When we were in university, which was more than ten years ago, we handed everything in by email or dropbox. It’s so simple and I didn't have to physically go to class either.
Looking for diversity
Yuka(Miyazaki / Photographer ) Recently, we often hear the word “diversity” everywhere in Japan. What do you think about diversity in Miyazaki?
Rocky(Canada / food & bevarage business owner) There isn’t much diversity of food, fashion, art and music. I feel like there is not much to celebrate except Japanese culture.
Sarah(America /Assistant Language Teacher) I feel that it’s harder to find diverse things here. Food, people and circumstances… Being stared at by people isn’t a comfortable feeling, to be honest. It’s understandable though.
Yuka(Miyazaki / Photographer ) It seems that diversity is already part of people’s lives in Canada or in the US. But for a lot of people in Miyazaki, it’s just an unfamiliar word. I feel like we need to cultivate the attitude of accepting diverse things step by step.
Rocky(Canada / food & bevarage business owner) Eventually, the whole world starts to accept one and other into their countries, but in Japan, they are pretty close to that. It is actually not a bad thing, they respect their culture and tradition, but in western world, we just adopt everything.
Nami(Univercity student) I think it’s also because of the Japanese people’s personality. A lot of them are ashamed of showing their ideas or feelings. I think we will become able to understand diverse cultures better if we break our barrier to speak English more actively.
English is about practicing and using
Akito(Univercity student) I’m curious how you see Japanese student’s ability to speak English. I sometimes realize that I tend to hesitate to communicate with foreigners because I feel like my English skills aren’t good enough. Do you think we should work harder to improve our English skills?
Sarah(America /Assistant Language Teacher) My students are so scared to make mistakes but I’m so happy when the students just try to speak. Because when I speak Japanese, I sound so bad, but I don’t care. I just try to communicate. You have to think like that. I wish the students here would try even if it’s not perfect. Don’t worry about mistakes.
Mathew(America /Assistant Language Teacher) When I was an ALT, my students saw me as if I was a walking English test. But English isn’t a test. I started with very little Japanese and I probably sounded stupid at the time, but as I kept speaking, I got better. Even if people laugh at you, that is their problem. That is not your problem. You are trying your best, they are not. Anyone that tries to learn a second language knows how difficult it is. They don’t laugh at you.
Akito(Univercity student) The fact that most of the Japanese can’t speak English is because they don’t actually speak English at school. They are more committed to studying grammar and vocabulary. I think we should make a change in our way of learning English to focus more on speaking.
Rocky(Canada / food & bevarage business owner) The more you use it, the more you practice. You get closer to being better. It might not be perfect but you get closer to being more fluent in English. It’s like singing. You can’t just read a book of music notes. If you don’t sing, you can’t hear what you are singing, right? It’s about practicing and using. You have to find that will and courage to say it out loud. Sometimes people would correct you, and that’s what you are hoping for. ou just say “Thank you, now I learn”. So, just keep trying!
Yuka(Miyazaki / Photographer ) It would be best if you practice over and over to brush up your conversation skills, and you also build your will and courage to express yourself in English.