Japan & Me

Hayden Tang

Name: Hayden Tang
Occupation: University student

You're on the organising committee for Kodomo no Hi Japan Festival. Can you tell us about that?

I've been doing that for two years. My role is volunteer coordinator, which means I have to organise volunteers from the community, so it's quite challenging. My favourite part is organising the festival with my friends. We are usually in the same groups each time, and we know our roles well and have good communication beforehand, so we kind of know what each of us is thinking. During the event, it's quite busy. The thing I like most is the 'feel' of the festival. Everybody's enjoying the event and having fun, so we get the satisfaction of feeling that we did a great job of planning the event.

What did you do when you were in Japan?

For years I used to travel to Tokyo for fun. I'd go to game centres, look at toy models and walk around tourist attractions like Asakusa, Shinjuku and Odaiba. My girlfriend is from Yokohama, and since I met her I started staying with her family and helping with the housework. That way, I was able to experience the culture and see how Japanese people live. There's still some tourism in Yokohama, but not as much as in Tokyo.

Can you tell me about a place you like in Japan?

I would say Odaiba because my favourite anime is Gundam. There is a "life-size" Gundam statue there, it's something like 20 metres tall. Every time I go to Japan, I definitely have a look. There's also a shop called 'Gundam Base' that sells only Gundam goods, like clothes and models. Every year, I go shopping there and bring back a big bag full! Odaiba also has 'Rainbow Bridge'. At night they change the lights to emulate a rainbow, it's quite beautiful.

What interests you about Japan?

The first time I felt interested in Japan was when watching anime. I started learning Japanese from anime, and the culture and how they lived really interested me. For example, in my country, we don't normally take off our shoes when we get home, but in anime, the characters all did that. Convenience stores really attracted me as well!

How is life in Japan different to life in your home country?

In Hong Kong, you don't really have time to sit down and have breakfast with the whole family, we don't usually bring our lunch to school, and for dinner, we don't usually eat together with family as our parents have work, so we just get takeaway from a restaurant or eat cup noodles. In Japan, you sit down in the morning and have breakfast at home. I've seen Japanese packed lunches with rice, meat and vegetables - a full lunch set that they bring from home. In Australia, you bring your lunch, but it's a sandwich instead of rice.

Can you tell us something memorable about your time in Japan?

Just before the coronavirus started, I was in Japan for a whole month. That was the time that I learned the most about how Japanese people live. I learned about how (my girlfriend's) mother does the housework and prepares lunch and dinner every day. It was quite a big experience for me. I'm not sure whether I'll have time like that again before I graduate, so maybe that was the last time that I was able to be in Japan for a month just as a traveller.

Also, I drove in Japan almost every day, and the roads are really tiny. Sometimes they can only fit one car, and if you've got a car coming the other way, you have to reverse the whole way down! You don't get those narrow roads in Hong Kong and Australia.


Kodomo no Hi Japan Festival will be held at Thebarton Community Centre from 11 am on Sunday, 2nd May 2021.