Isabelle Maranda

Isabella MarandaOccupation:
Marketing Coordinator

Time in Japan:
Almost three years

Where are you from?
Montreal, Canada.

What do you do here?
I' an alcohol importer.

What brought you to Japan?
I studied Japanese at university but even after five years I realized I couldn't really work with what I'd learned. So I wanted to come and work in Japan. At first I found a job as a teacher - like so many others.

How did you get a job as an alcohol importer?
My school was closing down and I started looking for a new job. I didn't have to look hard because one of the first ads I saw was from Hiroya International for somebody who's mother tongue was French, could speak English and had a good knowledge of Japanese. I applied and got the job right away.

What do you do at Hiroya International?
I do a lot of things, really. I would say the most important part of my job is correspondence with our suppliers abroad. Hiroya have been around for about 300 years in Japan. Hiroya International split from the mother company six years ago. If there is a fax that needs to be written, I do it. When the suppliers come to Japan, I act as their interpreter, guide and whatever else is necessary. I'm also responsible for sales to foreigners in Tokyo. I love this job. There's a lot of stress, but I meet a lot of interesting people.

What is the most difficult thing about working for a Japanese company?
The language problem. Although I have a high level of Japanese, there's still a little something I'm missing - especially with Hiroya being a very Japanese company and me being the only foreigner.

What were some things you had to adjust to?
The Japanese way of doing things in the office. For example, you have to be there at 9am and you have to stand at your desk and bow good morning and listen to a speech from the President. The first day I was there I was so surprised! I had to get used to a lot of things like that.

What's the weirdest thing you've seen or experienced here?
I was stuck on the train for eight hours at Omiya station during a snow storm. The train stopped moving at 8pm and didn't move again till 4am. I guess we could get out to get a drink or something from on the platform, but if you had a seat you could kiss it goodbye. I never thought that would happen to me in Japan - maybe in Canada, but not here.

What's one Japanese thing you'd like to take back to your home country?
My heated carpet and the respect that people have here for others. If someone steps on someone's foot they don't start an argument; they won't make a big deal about it.

Recipe for a happy and successful life in Japan?
Japan offers a lot of great opportunities, just open your eyes and you'll see.

Isabelle Maranda spoke to Maki Nibayashi.

Do you know an interesting person in Tokyo? If so, email us at
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345: Chris Chavez
344: Donna Burke
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342: Martin Hope Berry
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341: Donald James Berry
Technical Adviser
340: Amy Jorrisch
Tokyo International Players
339: Anthony Al-Jamie Ph.D.
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President of Outback Steakhouse Japan
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330: Alistair McLachlan
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327: Isabelle Maranda
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316: Jonathan Katz
Jazz musician and composer
315: Yoichi Hayase
President, True Travel, K.K.
314: Ira Bolden
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313: Benjamin Gurnsey
Corporate Communications at Sony Computer
312: Dr Jonna D. Douglass, PhD
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305: Kevin Meyerson
Rainbow Japan Inc. President
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302: Antonio Plozay-Liberatore
Economist/TV Talent
300: Miguel Angel

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Issues 250-299

Issues 150-199
Issues 138-149