Mayu Fujii, a Japanese member of AKB48 TeamTP, appeared as a guest on NHK radio’s “My Asa!”. She appeared in the program’s “Asia Now” corner.
When the announcer asked her to introduce herself, she greeted the audience in Japanese. Today, I would like to talk about the recent events in Taiwan.”
Taiwan’s New Year is determined by the lunar calendar, so until recently we had a break for this Lunar New Year.”
–How do you spend the Lunar New Year?
“Before New Year’s Eve, most people clean up, get a haircut, and buy new clothes. Many people buy red clothes for good luck, so everyone wears colourful clothes on New Year’s Day”.
“Also, on New Year’s Eve, there is a custom of having a family dinner, and just like in Japan, there is a New Year’s gift culture, with many people giving money to their parents as well as to their children. They buy lottery tickets, play mahjong, and have a lively time”.
“The difference between Japan’s customs is that we spend New Year’s Day at the home of the father’s family and the second day at the home of the mother’s family. Also, when you hear the word New Year’s Day’, you may think that department stores and tourist attractions are closed, but they are open quite often, so the town is bustling with people”.
–How did you spend your time?
“Taiwanese people are very kind, and every year I visit a different friend’s family. This year I went again and even received a New Year’s gift, and then we went out”.
–So it was a lot of fun. In terms of food culture, Japan has Osechi cuisine, but do you have Osechi in Taiwan?
“In Taiwan, there is a New Year’s dish as same to Osechi, which is always a fish dish. There is a four-character idiom that says, ‘Year after year, there will be plenty of food and money.’ The word yo-yu’ is pronounced like the Chinese word for fish, ‘you,’ which means ‘may you have money all year round’. It also seems to express the wish that not only money but also luck will accumulate”.
–What is popular in these days?
“I feel that the Japanese boom is coming back. As Taiwan has eased its corona restrictions, the number of people travelling abroad has increased dramatically, and among them, Japan is ranked 1st in the ‘Countries Taiwanese Want to Visit’ ranking. It seems that more than half of them answered that they would like to go to Japan. People around me are also travelling to Japan. When I temporarily returned to Japan in October, I saw Taiwanese people in the streets every day”.
–What do Taiwanese people like about Japan?
“They say that Japanese food is delicious. Many people want to go skiing in Hokkaido now. Another popular trend that I feel close to home is the cat boom. There are many cat lovers, and people are always talking about cats. There is also a cat cafe, where there are about 50 cats inside, but I could not get a reservation.
Taiwan is a pet-friendly country, and there are many restaurants, cafes, and even supermarkets that allow pets. It seems that there is health insurance for pets, and the way of thinking about pets in Japan and Taiwan is quite different. In Taiwan, people tend to take in or foster pets rather than buy them. With that kind of catchphrase, many people who want a pet take in a dog or cat through Facebook or foster cafes. I also took in a cat four years ago and am living with my cat. The cat’s name is Omochi. In Chinese, it is `Ma Shu’. I decided on that name because the cat looks like a marshmallow, like a rice cake (laughs). I even see cats on a motorcycle, so I hope everyone will pay attention to pets when they come to Taiwan. They are cute”.
“When you think of Taiwan, you probably imagine a retro atmosphere, but there are also many different types of scenery. There is also a lot of delicious food, so I would like you to come and visit Taiwan. It has a lot of charm”.
▼Archive; NHK Radiru Raridu
*Streamed until 8.28. a.m (JST), Feb, 17, 2023.