Valentina Moniga, office worker
Do you come to Zarigani Cafe often?
VM: Yes. My friends found this Café and I came with her. It’s relaxing here.
Do you work in Tokyo?
VM: Actually I’m here in Japan for a special program of the European Commission, The Executive Training Programme [ETP] for European companies who want to set up business in Japan and I’m attending this program through my company, Taste Sharing Japan Co.Ltd. I arrived in Tokyo last year in June and set up business in Japan.
Are you planning to go back to Italy after finishing the ETP?
VM: Now the program is almost over; it’s finishing in March. I’m planning to stay in Tokyo and keep working for my company. We work in the fields of food and lifestyle. We mainly import an Italian organic chocolate called ‘godo’, and operate an Italian gelato shop called CremAmore. Since it’s a small company I also communicate at the shop.
Why did you decide to stay in Tokyo?
VM: I started studying Japanese in university. After graduating high school I was really interested in Asia – can’t explain why. Five years ago I lived in Kyoto with Japanese family, and three years ago I worked for two months at the Italian Embassy in Tokyo. Then I started working for the company where I’m at now, and had an opportunity to come back to Japan. I’m planning to stay longer and learn more about Japan.
What is it about Tokyo that attracts you?
VM: The atmosphere in Tokyo is cool. I really enjoy weather in winter; I don’t like summer so much because it’s humid. I love to ride my bicycle from Waseda where I live to Shirokane-takanawa where I work. It’s hard to ride bicycle in Milan because it’s dangerous; the streets are narrow and there are trams running.
You were enjoying espresso, do you know any place you can drink real Italian espresso in Tokyo?
VM: I love espresso. I think Eataly in Daikanyama is good. The place is like an Italian town and there are restaurants and bars.
Do you miss any other Italian things?
VM: Cheese, I’d say. I was born in a small town, Novara. The town is in between Milan and Torino and very famous for Gorgonzola cheese. You can find great cheese. They have it at places like Kinokuniya supermarket.
It’s raining today; do you use an umbrella?
VM: Yes, we use umbrellas. [Laughs] In Italian it’s ombrello, meaning ‘small shadow’.
I asked because my Italian friend told me that he hates umbrellas. [Laughs]
More from Valentina:
‘It’s simple, but I love curry rice – but not natto. I have a suihanki [rice cooker] to cook rice.’
‘I love taking walks, and I feel safe taking walks in Japan.’
‘I tried to pass my level two JLPT in December but failed, but I am trying to do it again in July.
Translated by E. Kavanagh