MAY 2020 (VOL.152)
MAY 2020 (VOL.152)
From Paris, France
What do you do in Japan?
In 2012, I joined David Michaud, the founder of “Tokyo Safari” in 2009, to promote our cities with a different approach based on photography and meeting with locals. In 2020, our team has grown well and last year we have just celebrated our 10th anniversary. Our clients choose us to understand a vision of Japan through our experience of daily life in Japan as we share the same culture. They want information that they cannot find in books, meeting with artisans, and chatting with locals who have access to backdoor and become our friends over time. Of course, bringing back home the best pictures, especially the one tourists cannot take without professional skills. At the end of the day, it is a very pleasant job and a permanent exchange. During all these years, I learned a lot from my customers on many topics. One day a client told me: “You are kind of a geisha… with a beard”.
Where do you live?
I live in Hiroshima where my wife was born and still works here. It’s a very nice place to live. It’s quiet, nature is
everywhere, local food is excellent, and the people are very friendly. I live only 28 min. from Miyajima Island where the most iconic vermilion torii gate. I spend around 100 days a year at this place with my customers.
What parts of Japanese culture do you recommend foreign people to try experiencing?
Sumo! Please come early in the morning to see the sumotori’s warm-up, all of them can do a full split! Kagura from Hiroshima, which is the traditional dance and music, is nice to see. Taiko, you feel the energy of Japanese drums.
Are there any aspects of the Japanese culture or its people that you find bizarre or unique?
The silence or/and non-verbal communication. I love to speak a lot, and especially in my job, I feel it’s uncomfortable if I just walk with my customers without telling them anything. Some said that this “silence” came from the Zen. Since two and a half-century of isolation, Japanese people nowadays seem to know what other Japanese people are thinking without using words.
What are your favorite Japanese food?
I’m lucky! I love all Hiroshima’s specialties: okonomiyaki, oysters, tsukemen, anago meshi, and momiji manju. I like to find restaurants that are at least 10 years old because usually it’s very good and the owners have many stories to tell you.
After moving to Japan did you have any funny experiences?
Most of the tourists in Japan have shared the common experience of the “omotenashi”; the Japanese’s hospitality.
Some people are no longer used to these acts of kindness without any return. One day in the summer, I was in a restaurant with my clients of the day, I realize that I forgot my camera in a cemetery perched on a hillside 100 meters high. So I ride in the first taxi, and I tell the driver my story. First good surprise, the highest point of the cemetery was accessible by car, and the taxi driver offered to wait for me during my search.
I did twice the descent and the ascension there. When I came back to the taxi, he was not in the cab. I thought that he had to go to the bathroom so I turn back along the morning path. Ten minutes later I found my camera on a rock.
Once again, I came back to the taxi, there was still nobody. I looked around the surroundings and suddenly, I find my taxi driver at the bottom of the cemetery looking for my camera. It was so kind of him. I called him and made him stop near a vending machine and to offer refreshments. I bowed and thanked him for the hundredth time as the door closed automatically.