Welcome to this first episode of Tokyo Podcast! Hosted by Anthony Joh, this show will be about new and exciting things about Japan. Tony previously hosted a weekly podcast in Bangkok, Thailand with Greg Jorgensen for over a year. With 70 shows covering all aspects of living and working in Thailand, they interviewed a variety of people which includes monks, TV stars, ambassadors, business owners, travelers, authors and so much more. If you’re thinking about moving to Thailand, check out the Bangkok Podcast.
Since I will be moving to Japan next week, I will be starting Tokyo Podcast, where I will be talking about my new adventures living in Japan. Japan is so fascinating for me because it is strikingly different from any other country in the world. This overview can give you an idea of what topics we will cover in our shows.
Some differences between Thailand and Japan
It will be interesting to take a look at notable differences between the two countries such as Thailand and Japan. Not only is Tokyo a much larger city compared to Bangkok but the society is very different from each other. Thailand is very easy going, relaxed or sabai sabai. On the other hand, Japan is serious about everything that it’s almost comical but sometimes annoying. It’s a country full of paperwork, rules, and regulations. I’m going through the process of getting an apartment and it so much harder than getting one in Thailand. Some of the shows will be devoted to describing what is it like to set up in Japan as well as their transportation since there is a multitude of trains in the country.
One of the things that surprised me in hosting the Bangkok Podcast was which shows would turn out to be more popular than others. Shows that we thought would be huge hits actually weren’t and some of those which we were embarrassed about turned out to be great. One of the most popular series was our Buddhism series. We had a British monk who came to the show and talked about High Buddhism and how it affects Thai culture and daily life. It actually proved to be extremely popular especially among the Thai audience. You would assume they already knew about it and thus wouldn’t be interested to hear what foreigners think about their religion. Apparently, they were fascinated with our views on Buddhism. Another example would be the show featuring Thai spirit houses which are actually tiny temples seen outside many buildings. We got a lot of feedback from Thais saying that they always see those everywhere but they weren’t familiar with its origins.
One aspect of Thai culture that we never really explored in the Thai podcast was their sports. While Thailand is famous for its muay thai, it also has another sport called takraw which is similar to volleyball except it uses the feet instead of hands. In Japan, there are a lot of sports and some of these can be traced back to their ancient history such as sumo, judo, karate and kendo. People who are into these sports practice them very seriously. For example, kendo has a difficult test called the Hachidan test. Not only are the requirements rigorous, its criteria for winning are also peculiar. This test involves a match in front of a panel of experienced kendo masters who will judge the athletes based on how they fought the match. We’ll also bring in experts in sumo, as it is a bit controversial right now because foreigners are coming into the sumo ring. There are also accusations that they are tied to the yakuza or the Japanese mafia.
One of my favorite topics in the Bangkok Podcast was its language series. In Bangkok, you can get around by speaking mostly English with a little bit of Thai. I didn’t spend a lot of time studying the Thai language, but I’m fascinated by how people learned it, especially those who learned it quickly. We invited people who could bring a different perspective on the Thai language. For example, we had Dan Fraser who runs Smiling Albino, an adventure tour company in Thailand. Speaking the language was critical to his business, so he taught himself every night for two years and talked to the locals every day. Now, he has a TV show where he travels all over Thailand. We had another gentleman name Peter Tuinstra who learned Thai in the US Airforce within a year. He flew to Thailand a year later and spoke so fluently that all the taxi drivers were surprised when he arrived at the airport.
I know when I move to Japan I’ll have to study their language. I think Japanese is one of the hardest languages to learn given that it has three alphabets, such as kanjis which can be pronounced in multiple ways. There is also very little English. If you want to do any kind of business in Japan, you have to learn Japanese. We’ll see what techniques can be applied in learning Japanese as quickly as we can.
The premier of the new Tokyo Podcast will be on October 2. Thanks to everyone who made Bangkok Podcast a huge success. Hope you can join me again on the Tokyo Podcast!