Japan Italy: “An Italian in Japan” the serie – Michela Figliola

Warm Cheap Trips, Michela Figliola and her experience

A few months ago we launched the column “An Italian in Japan” where we interview our compatriots in the land of the Rising Sun. Few succeed in realizing the dream of going to live in Japan and we want to share with you the experiences of those who succeeded! Today we present Michela Figliola, a very Italian girl who lives and works in Japan!

JIB: Tell us who you are shortly

M: Michela, from Brescia, in fact from Franciacorta, in love with travels. At the age of 28 I decided to leave my permanent position in Italy and move to Japan, a country that I love very much and where, despite its oddities, I feel at home.

JIB: Where does your passion for Japan come from?

M: I don’t really remember what triggered it. I have always been attracted by the East, by its very different culture and its traditional landscapes. A series of events made me increasingly familiar with Japan and its classical culture and I was bewitched more and more every day. I still love to discover its history and deepen its many cultural nuances.

JIB: You have moved to Japan since a while now, what are the steps you took to live in this country?

M: The dream of moving here was born about 6 years ago, on the first trip. From there I evaluated the various options, including that of starting my own business. In the end, especially for a monetary issue, I fell back on the classic student visa to learn the language and then find a full-time job once here.
Although less expensive than the visa business, the Japanese school is still not cheap, so it took me a few years to save enough to afford school and expenses in Japan. Together with a work permit and working for 28 hours a week, you can partially cover your daily expenses.

JIB: Tell us about one of the funniest experiences you had since you lived in Japan.

M: More than fun experiences, these are meetings: once I met a pig with a rainbow tuft, while I was walking through the streets of the Asakusa area. While on another occasion, coming out of an izakaya near home, I met the famous Sailor Suit Old Man, the old man dressed as a schoolgirl!

JIB: Your blog, warmcheaptrips.com, what it was born of and how you developed the idea until it got to what it is today

M: The blog was born in 2015, after yet another trip organized in detail in autonomy, struggling to find the answers I was looking for. At the suggestion of a friend who asked me to pass her one of my old itineraries so that she replicate it, I decided to put everything that was hidden on my PC online and help other people to travel.
I have always loved writing, as well as traveling and initially, the blog was a way to show what I could do, a sort of portfolio about who I am and how I approach things.
Then over time it became something more professional and I started investing more and more time in it, in order to give useful and interesting information to readers, specializing in cultural itineraries, historical journeys and of course, Japan, especially the less known one.

JIB: From the point of view of a westerner, what are the difficulties and the differences that you have found in the first times in Japan compared to Italy

M: Personally, having started with a lot of preparation on all those that can be thorny aspects for the Italians, I didn’t have great difficulties. I feel very comfortable and in line with the Japanese attitude. The only thing that every now and then jars a little about me is the total lack of elasticity that in some cases would be useful for solving problems quickly and easily. Or the fact that they rarely express their real opinion and say things between the lines. Reasoning differently from ours, we are not always able to grasp the real point of the situation.

JIB: Many think that Japan is a totally different land from Italy but instead we have found many more similarities than we can imagine. What do you think about it? What are the strongest similarities?

M: Let’s say that for many things the two countries resemble each other very much, above all it is impressive how similar they are to being on opposites.
We say that the major similarities are mainly the love for beauty and aesthetics, especially in clothing and in posture. But also in the kitchen: simple flavors, but rich in taste, where the elements that make up the dish have a perfect balance.
There are strong traditions and a lot of attachment to regional cultures and dialects, as well as the playful way in which they divide the country into North and South (or better, east and west) because of different habits and attitudes!

JIB: Projects for the future?

M: Now I am waiting for the new immigration visa, if it doesn’t arrive, I will return to Italy for a year and I will look for work in some company that can offer me a future transfer.
Obviously, I hope that everything goes well and can continue to stay here, working for the current company that deals with the organization of tours and events in Tokyo and the management of Social Networks on behalf of other activities. In parallel I would like to continue my blog, continuing to write about travels both in Japan and around the world.

JIB: How is Italy seen in Japan?

M: They love everything that is Italian, and they often see Italy as a symbol of elegance and refinement. And they have the idea of a very stereotypical Italian man: always full of compliments and attention that fills his woman with flowers and gifts. Lately, however, Italy is seen as a dangerous country to travel to, because of the thefts and scams of which the Japanese are often victims!

JIB: May in Japan, what’s special about this month in the land of the Rising Sun?

M: This year there was the “mega golden week”, a series of national holidays that offer about a week of pause from work, but in 2019 it was particularly long because there was the change of Emperor! The Heisei era ended on April 30 and the new Reiwa era began on May 1st, when Prince Naruhito ascended the throne.

JIB: Do you think there is a future for even closer collaboration between the two nations?

M: The interest in Italy by the Japanese is very high, and the interest of the Italians towards Japan increases more and more. Not only from a tourism point of view, but also from an economic point of view and from the exchange of goods, so yes, we will certainly move towards an even closer collaboration between the two countries.

JIB: Do you ever miss Italy? Do you plan to return here permanently?

M: I was fine in Italy too, but I’m better here. Thanks to technology it is still very easy to communicate with Italy so I never feel nostalgic. Sometimes, however, I suffer terribly from the lack of some homemade foods or dishes, but fortunately, there is still a lot of great food here too!

JIB: Give a greeting and advice to all our readers

M: Japan is a fantastic country to visit, don’t limit yourself to the great classics, but explore the less traveled areas. Here you will experience the true essence of Japan and you will be able to fully enjoy its culture and tradition. To better understand this country, you have to open your mind, stop judging what seems different and let yourself get carried away by Japan. Always be respectful of the country you are visiting, almost as if you were a ghost, especially if you visit less touristy areas.
Instead, if you are thinking of moving to Japan, study its history and focus on what could be negative aspects of everyday life. Do not trust those who say that everything is perfect! I love it, but I know that for many other people many things could weigh a lot, especially those who are very attached to Italian culture and human relationships as they are in Italy. Here the relationships are extremely different, be aware of them before you decide to transfer!

Follow Michela

Website: warmcheaptrips.com
Instagram: @warmcheaptrips