Japan Italy: “An Italian in Japan” the serie – Saracchan

Saracchan e la sua esperienza

Written by: Erika

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 have succeeded! Today we introduce you to Sara, another very Italian girl who lives and works in Japan!


JIB: Tell us briefly about who you are

Saracchan: Good morning everyone! My name is Sara, I am 25 years old and I come from Milan, where I have lived for most of my life. I love playing the piano, studying Japanese, singing karaoke and doing hanami, meaning looking at cherry blossoms in full bloom. About three years ago, I embarked on an adventure that completely changed my life: I moved to Japan, where I still live, work and attend university.
Before moving to the land of the Rising Sun, I opened a Facebook page called Saracchan’s Japan, where I publish photos and videos for fans of this beautiful country. I also manage a personal profile on Instagram where I publish my daily adventures in Tokyo.

JIB: How did your passion for Japan come about?

Saracchan: My passion for Japan was born in a somewhat obvious way, so to speak, given that many people have recently approached this country in this way.
Perhaps some of you will remember that ten years ago, on MTV, some anime episodes were aired, including InuYasha. That day, after returning from high school, I decided to turn on channel 8 instead of watching the usual Simpson’s cartoon. In that moment, I fell in love with this particular anime that told the tradition and history of Japan in a picturesque way. From that day on I started looking for more information on the internet and I was introduced to the world of manga and anime, which I began to read and watch assiduously. Through them, I created an image of Japan that made me dream, nevertheless for the language that sounded so fascinating and melodious. After that, after the anime and manga period, I approached culture and traditions and started studying the language on my own.


JIB: How long have you lived in Japan and why did you want to move to this country?

Saracchan: Considering all my experiences in Japan, I can say that I have lived in this wonderful country for about three and a half years. Although moving was a difficult journey, I can proudly say that I made my big dream come true. Note that by “difficult” I do not mean for bureaucratic issues, but precisely for the decision that led me to take this huge step.
In fact, after finishing high school I wanted to go absolutely to Tokyo to study Japanese but, for various reasons, I was “forced” to enroll in the biology faculty of Milan. Here I didn’t feel fulfilled, I wasn’t convinced that that was my way. One day, by chance, I happened to attend the presentation of the GoGoNihon agency in Milan, which opened the way for Japan to me. In fact, some time and some savings later, I enrolled in a language school in Takadanobaba, Tokyo, where I studied for one year, the most beautiful of my life. After that, after finishing my studies, I reluctantly returned to Milan, and I enrolled in the university of foreign languages ​​(including Japanese) in Bergamo. However, my heart now belonged to Japan and so the following year I enrolled in the Faculty of Business Economics at a university in Saitama, near Tokyo, where I am still studying.


JIB: Tell us about one of the funniest experiences that have happened to you since you lived in Japan.

Saracchan: Japan has offered me and still offers me many wonderful experiences! Perhaps the first experience that comes to mind, linked to my initial year in Japan, was when a dear Japanese friend of mine invited me to spend New Year’s Eve in the home of her grandparents in the countryside, with all her family. We cooked soba together, ate traditional Japanese food, put on the kimono and, at the stroke of midnight, drank hot sake in front of the bonfire, exchanging greetings for the new year. It was a truly unforgettable experience!


JIB: As a westerner, what are the difficulties and differences that you encountered in the early days in Japan?

Saracchan: Definitely the language! When I moved I knew how to say just a few simple sentences and, not knowing anyone yet, I had to do everything myself, from shopping to paperwork. Not to mention the millions of kanji that I saw every day and that made absolutely no sense to me. Furthermore, it was very difficult to orient myself with the numerous and very crowded subway lines, but they are all things that I have faced with determination and great curiosity.

JIB: In our opinion, Italy and Japan have a lot in common, tell us a little bit about your point of view on this topic.

Saracchan: I think Japan is a “western” country in Asia, in many aspects very close to our culture and way of thinking. However, I think it would be more correct to list the differences between the two countries since they differ on some important features of daily life. For example, Japan is different in the culture of work, the punctuality of trains, safety on the streets, the way of living relationships and so on. Japanese society is more focused on the common good, while Italian society, in my opinion, is more individualistic.


JIB: Which city captured your heart in Japan?

Saracchan: Tokyo! It is a city that has everything, nothing is really missing. It is very modern, with very high skyscrapers, but at the same time ancient, with its hidden temples scattered around the city and the silent and characteristic lanes that transport you to another world. There are many activities to do, many places to visit, it’s immense! Spectacular gardens, an imperial palace, karaoke, Harajuku with its colorful shops, particular and unique cafes, izakaya and much more. It never ceases to amaze you and every day you can discover new things and meet interesting people. In addition, it is in a very convenient location, a few minutes from other characteristic cities such as Yokohama, Enoshima and Kamakura. I would say that it is perfect for me, also because, contrary to what one might think, it is not polluted and there are not many cars.

JIB: Which Japanese city looks more like Italy?

Saracchan: As for the urban landscape, I’d say the modern center of Kyoto. There the buildings are quite low and it is much less chaotic than in Tokyo. Instead, for the “human” aspect, I think Osaka is the city that comes closest to Italy, as the Japanese who live there are more sociable and open to others. In my opinion, in Osaka it is easier to meet people and make new friends.

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JIB: Cherry blossom, tell us a little about the point of view of a westerner who lived it

Saracchan: This is my favorite event ever! All the streets turn pink and come alive with visitors taking hundreds of photos. Usually, the Japanese gather in the parks with friends and family, they lay large blue sheets on the lawn and spend the days picnicking and drinking sake. In addition, there are many matsuri, or festivals with stalls and street food that spread a very good perfume throughout the park. It is a unique experience, especially seeing the sakura in the evening, illuminated by colored lights that create splendid images. For those who go to Tokyo during this period, I highly recommend going along the Meguro river near the Imperial Palace, areas dotted with beautiful blooming sakura.

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

Saracchan: Absolutely yes! Lately, in Italy, Japan and its culture are catching on and there are more and more people interested in discovering this wonderful Asian country. At the same time, there are many Japanese who are developing a great interest in our beautiful country. In fact, Italian food and wine are very renowned and there are many restaurants specializing in Italian cuisine. Very often there are events that sponsor our country and I believe that in the future there will be closer collaborations, also given by the increase in Italians living in Japan.

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JIB: Do you ever miss Italy? Are you thinking of coming back here?

Saracchan: Sometimes I miss it, especially my family, my friends and the food! Both nations have much to offer, each with its strengths and weaknesses. At the moment I am not sure what I will do after graduation, if I will live in Japan or return to Italy, but I know that I would like to have a job that allows me to live between the two countries, maybe something related to the tourism sector.

JIB: Say something and give an advice to all our readers

Saracchan: If you have come to read this final question, thank you very much and I hope to have sent you something or at least to have given you some suggestions that you can use in the future. As a last tip, I would tell you not to give up and to do your best to achieve your goals, whether it is to move to Japan, to study Japanese or even just to make a trip to the land of the Rising Sun. They are not unattainable goals, there is no need to be rich, just be determined and want it with all your heart. I, even with the help of my parents, worked hard to make my dream come true and I made it! You can do it too, don’t be afraid to dare.

Follow Sara

Instagram: @saracchan