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“I want to be a bridge between France and Japan”

Nyapan has an interview with a real-life Wan-kun who is from overseas living in Japan. Akadama FAN(Friend’s Actual Note)

Episode 3 ~Mokuta-san from Paris in France~

◆What brought you to Japan?

I fell in love with a Japanese woman in Paris in1992.I married her in 1997 and moved to Tokyo,Japan. I originally handled arts and antiques business and I learned Japanese in a school in France for three years, in order to communicate with Japanese traders. Now, I export Japanese antique tin toys to France and import French paintings, mainly “Raymond Savignac”artworks to Japan. I operate a business to connect the two counties through art.

◆What Inspired you to have an interest in Japan ?

A Japanese animation called ”UFO Robo Grendizer” was the first meeting with Japanese culture for me.This anime is the third series of “Mazinger Z”,which is about a superhero who fights against aliens.This was really popular in France in the 70’s. I was so into it! And I had one thing that I wondered about in the credits shown at the end of the amine every time “終”. I thought about this with a curiosity.When I knew this mark was a Japanese Kanji, the meaning “The End”, a memory of my childhood and Japan were connected and I was intrigued by Japan.Many people still get interested in Japan through the influence of animation, in the same way as my experience.When I talk with my relative’s children, I know they each have favorite anime generation by generation, such as “Doraemon” “Anpan man” or “One piece”.Some ardent fans can't get enough, dubbed in French, and watch the Japanese original anime on You Tube.

◆What do French people think about Japan?

They think, High-quality Japanese products, a peaceful country and the history.These three points are highly regarded in France. Although many people are interested in Japanese culture, there are not many opportunities to be exposed to it still now.For instance, Sushi has been a big trend in Paris and over 3,000 Sushi restaurants are there. But, most of the restaurants are run by Chinese people.I’d like Japanese chefs to come to Paris to spread genuine Sushi. I also want to say that the Japanese government should organize events in France to distribute and increase the appeal of Japanese arts or culture.Not only traditional culture but also young talented powers should be transmitted to the world.Otherwise it is a waste!

◆Are there any surprises in Japan?

I have been concerned about the lifestyle of workaholism, since I came to Japan.I’ve never seen workers falling asleep in a train in France, but Japanese workers do. I think they have a lot of stress and I’m worried about the situation…French people come back home as soon as they finish work. We have dinner with our family while having a lot of conversation,which makes family ties.On the other hand, many Japanese people say”I don’t talk much with my father ” or “I’m not sure about what the members of my family do usually”…Furthermore, going for a drink with coworkers after work is an ordinary thing in Japan. If you do same thing in France, you must be divorced.Working or companies are important things, but I think if companies don’t respect employee’s life style, these kind of companies may collapse.

◆Could you tell us your favorite thing about Japan?

The Japanese sprit of “ZEN”.When the earthquake disaster occurred, I was moved to see Japanese people waiting in a long line in order to get water.This mentality is so wonderful that people value harmony and stay calm no matter how hard days could be.I think many more Japanese young people should go abroad to recognize the good points of Japan objectively. Media tends to show you only the bright side of other countries.So, you go and have a practical experience.You might be deceived or might get in trouble there… But your own real experiences must be valuable. In fact, I’ve also rediscovered good points or even faults of France since I came to Japan.

◆Do you have any problems or difficulties in Japan?

Going to travel in Japan costs a lot of money.Shinkansen or highway fees are expensive and the number of hotels is small. Even though I want to take my family traveling, hotels are already fully booked in peak season….Paris has many hotels here and there, so you have many options available.And you can easily catch sight of a signboard “Tourist information center “ in even small towns. When the Internet didn’t exist, I went there in an unfamiliar town where I just dropped by, and they suggested a hotel along with my expectations.I think the system to accommodate tourists in France is highly mature. In Japan, it’s a bit difficult to find a place where you should ask about information for tourists who don’t understand Japanese.

◆What Japanese food do you like?

I love grilled fish the best. Fish is expensive and is hard to find fresh in Paris. Since Paris is distant from the sea, fish is the expensive ingredient rather than meat.Meanwhile, I can buy inexpensive and fresh fish at supermarkets in Japan.So, when I see fish offered for sale at the marché in Paris, I always think I want to come back to Japan and eat fresh fish!!

◆Could you tell us your recommended sightseeing spots in Tokyo, Japan?

I take my friends from France to Akihabara. This is an energetic town mixed with electronics and comics, and gives you cultural shock. I also recommend ”Nakano Broadway”,where you encountere a variety of stores where you can enjoy the Japanese sub-culture.And you don’t miss Tsukiji! This is the only place in the world where a wide variety of fresh fish,shellfish and seafood are lined up.

◆What is a difference between France and Japan?

France is artistic.Children in elementary schools are taken to museums once a week as education.When you go to the Louvre Museum in Paris, you must see them making a sketch in front of the arts like Picasso or Monet.Growing up in such an environment, that the arts are in your daily life, makes you become highly sensitive. People are inspired to take all that you see as art, it impacts daily life.For instance, people take care of weeds or plants in a residential area, not to mention making your own garden beautiful. I guess this sense has been cultivated throughout history.The way of thinking when purchasing paintings is different too. Many Japanese people don’t often buy a painting. Even if they buy one for a wall, that’s it.French people purchase arts as a collection. They enjoy changing pictures at every season to makeover their rooms. Since recent apartments in Japan have a lot more vacant space to decorate with paintings, I suggest finding your favorite painting and decorating your room with them. This will enrich your heart.I recommend posters of “Savignac” which are colorful and humorous.

<Nyapan’s Note>

Mokuta-san who is a Parisian, has been working as a bridge between France and Japan through art for 20 years! He told me the two countries cultural differences precisely in fluent Japanese. Actually, Paris is the place that Nyapan really admires.I am so happy to hear that Japanese culture is highly acclaimed by French people with a high sense of beauty.AKADAMA JAPAN has to try harder to deliver about wonderful Japanese culture to the world!Anyway, I didn’t know Japanese animation have given an impact around the world for a long time. I’m proud of it.

◆Mokuta- san works at Guy Antique Gallery

Dealing with Antique toys and pictures


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