AuPairCare has one of the longest traditions of bringing au pairs from Japan to the U.S., in part because our co-founder, Takeshi Yokota, hails from Japan. Comprised of an archipelago in East Asia, Japan has a family-oriented culture rich with longstanding traditions in theater, literature, and design. Let’s explore Japanese skills and attributes that may be important to you as a host family:
Country Facts: Japan has a population of 127,728,000 people. The city of Tokyo is the capital and one of the most populated metropolitan areas in the world. The official language is Japanese.
Communication Style: Au pairs from Japan speak Japanese, and tend to be softer spoken and less likely to speak directly or offer to share about themselves, as boasting is looked down upon in Japanese culture. Instead, politeness and patience are preferred, which may be demonstrated through conscientious and concerted interview communications.
Cooking: Japanese cuisine is based around rice, noodles, vegetables, fish, and tofu, though international cuisine is quite popular. During mealtime in Japan, you are encouraged to “eat with your eyes”—and this is reflected in elegant (and often adorable!) food presentation. Most young people learn cooking from their mothers, and first dishes often include curry rice, Nikujaga (beef and potato stew), and miso soup.
English: Young people in Japan often begin learning English in middle and high school, where the focus is on reading and writing for exams. Because Japan is linguistically homogenous, there are fewer opportunities to practice spoken English on a day-to-day basis. Hence, at first meeting, Japanese au pairs may be more confident in their written correspondence than in spoken English.
Driving: Au pairs who grew up outside of larger metropolitan areas may have had more experience driving, and those within city limits will be familiar with heavy traffic. This is in part because Japan has an efficient and far reaching public transit system, and the cost to obtain a license often involves schooling fees upwards of $2,000.
Highlight: Summer in Japan is a time of many local and regional festivals called Natsu Matsuri, where revelers visit yatai (booths) and delight in shaved ice, candy apples and a goldfish scooping game. Many festival visitors wear a yukata, or casual summer kimono, and the events are often topped off with fireworks!