METROPOLIS | CLASSIFIEDS | PERSONALS | JOBS
LIFE IN JAPAN
Kate Smurthwaite


Kate Smurthwaite

Maki Nibayashi

Occupation:
Convertible Bond Analyst for UBS Warburg (and aspiring novelist!)


Time in Japan:

7 months



Where are you from?
London, and before that Ipswich (come on, you blues!!).

What brought you to Japan?
My job. I came out to replace someone who had left. I' been working for the company since 1997.

What do you do now?
I do Japanese Convertible Bond Research for UBS Warburg. I produce daily, quarterly and other timely reports for our convertible investors. I've been doing this kind of research for just over three years, but only the last year of that has focussed on Japan. As soon as I started covering Japan (from London), I started planning the move out here. And I'm writing a novel and some short stories too.

What was your first impression of Japan?
I suppose I should admit, like a lot of other people before me, my first impression was that I'd made a terrible mistake! Stuck in a temporary apartment with somebody else's "taste" (ah-hem) in furniture and just the BBC World Service for company. I had to take Japanese Regulatory exams in order to be allowed to do my job, which meant hours of dull studying. Added to some personal trauma from friends back home who I couldn't get back to see and help, the only reason I didn't head straight to Narita after a fortnight was that I was too proud to crawl back to London and own up to not being able to cope! Now, I'm glad I stayed.

Did you have any difficulties with the moving process itself?
Well my flat out here came with no furniture whatsoever, unlike rented rooms in London, so I had to buy a lot of stuff. And of course half of it came in pieces with assembly instructions in Japanese! I even had to buy a cooker and that was a bit of a disaster: I was marginally worried about connecting it to the gas properly, but it didn't seem to be too tricky. Once I'd done it, I tested one of the pot-stands, which was fine, then turned the grill on to heat up so I could in turn test it out with some chicken I'd got in my equally new fridge. A couple of minutes later there was a nasty smell and I started wondering whether that was normal with a new machine or not. It subsequently got rather worse so eventually I opened the grill and there was the instruction book, blazing merrily away! No great loss as it wouldn't have been much help anyway being in Japanese too.

Is being foreign and female an obstacle here in Japan?
Of course it is! Superficially, Japan often seems to contain only three types of people: the fluent Japanese speakers, the families and the (mostly) men who go to bars and strip clubs in Roppongi. Some people seem to be all three, and I'm none. It doesn't take long though to start finding things going on outside that range. And I'm making good progress learning Japanese - which really opens your options up - mostly thanks to Jun, my new boyfriend!

What do you like the most about Japanese culture?
I bet everyone says this, but people are so friendly and the service you get is amazing. One time, my local bar was closed and the manager waited outside in case I arrived - then he walked me around the corner to an alternative bar he thought I might like!

What's your recipe for a happy and successful life in Japan?
I think it's different for everyone, but the woman with the right cookbook is my friend Caroline. She knows so much about coping with, not to mention enjoying, life out here as a gaijin woman, that she's written a book about it ("Being A Broad," published in the new year... plug, plug, plug). But I do mean it quite sincerely, I'm not being bribed to say this - she's been an enormous help and I'm delighted other women will be able to benefit from her expertise in the near future.

Kate Smurthwaite spoke to Maki Nibayashi.


Do you know someone who has an interesting life in Japan? Email us at maki@tokyoclassified.com

LIFE IN JAPAN:
360: Gustavo Marchesi
Professional tango dancer
355: Alec McAulay
Filmmaker
352/3: Mary Frenzel
Professional singer / songwriter, bandleader & voice instructor
350: Kate Smurthwaite
Bond analyst and aspiring novelist
349: Tim Spangler
Recreational Equipment, Inc.
348: Robin Rozzell
Tribal Nation Security
347: Marco Invernizzi
Bonsai artist
346: Charles E McJilton
Advocate
345: Chris Chavez
Dancer/Singer
344: Donna Burke
Singer and narrator
343: Dennis Sun
Artist, freelance graphic design and illustrator
342: Martin Hope Berry
Natural food shop owner
341: Donald James Berry
Technical Adviser
340: Amy Jorrisch
Tokyo International Players
339: Anthony Al-Jamie Ph.D.
Education consultant and journalist
338: Joel Silverstein
President of Outback Steakhouse Japan
337: Neal Dauber
Termite and Pest Control Operator
336: Marcus Spurrell
CEO of No Mass Media, Internet Co.
335: Stefan Fanselow
Flight Instructor
334: Colleen Lanki
Theater Artist
333: Ben Leibson
Scuba Diver
332: Bernard Yu
Executive Director of TELL
331: Hayden "Hay-chan" Majajas
Informations Systems Manager
330: Alistair McLachlan
BootsMC Finance manager
329: Ronald Lee Davis
Missionary / Teacher
328: Ed Durbrow
Musician
327: Isabelle Maranda
Marketing Coordinator
326: Brian Marcus
Food & Beverage Director at Tokyo American Club
325: David Baran
Managing Partner, Compass Partners
324: Murali Kupusami
Furla Tea & Coffee Owner/Model
323: Angela Jones
Fire Dancer
322: Tim Tsang
Coordinator for International Relations (CIR)
321: Chris Monnier
Drummer
320: David Snyder
President of Rising Crane Sports Consultants, Inc.
319: Juliet Hindell
BBC's Tokyo Correspondent
318: Sid Lloyd
Football team captain
317: Niels Frederik Walther
Chef for the Danish Ambassador
316: Jonathan Katz
Jazz musician and composer
315: Yoichi Hayase
President, True Travel, K.K.
314: Ira Bolden
Program Manager
313: Benjamin Gurnsey
Corporate Communications at Sony Computer
312: Dr Jonna D. Douglass, PhD
Clinical Psychologist and Family Therapist
311: Roy Kilner
Izakaya Manager
310: Neil Day
Senior Software Research Engineer
309: Stuart Ablett
Sakaya Operator
308: Maggie Tai Tucker
Animal Trainer
307: Carmine Cozzoline
Restaurant Owner/Chef
306: Alison Noonan
Cellist
305: Kevin Meyerson
Rainbow Japan Inc. President
304: Randy McGraw
DirecTV Marketing Manager
303: Roy Ron
Researcher
302: Antonio Plozay-Liberatore
Economist/TV Talent
300: Miguel Angel
Bartender

Issues 250-299

Issues 150-199
TOP