Hidenori Shibasaki / Marpless Communication Technologies (Pty) Ltd.
I have been living in South Africa now, with my family, for some two and a half years. I would like to describe exactly what life is like living here in South Africa, a country that seems so far from Japan (in fact, it takes almost 24 hours to travel there, if you include time taken in transit).
Most Japanese people tend to live in housing complex areas known as “clusters”. The majority of the homes in these clusters are spacious bungalows with gardens and pools attached. The high-voltage electric fence that surrounds them in order to prevent intruders is something of an eyesore, but we are still able to invite friends over for barbeques in our garden (known in South Africa as “Braai”) and in that sense we can fully enjoy the sort of relaxed lifestyle that is only possible when living overseas. However, when we go to bed we must bolt the door to our bedrooms with iron bars and in the living room we set an alarm that operates using infra-red light. It is also quite common for people living here to have a service installed whereby just one press of a button will bring security guards rushing to your assistance.
2. Travelling to the office
The economy of South Africa is booming, buoyant in the wake of the rise in raw materials prices. As a result of this, there has been a year on year increase in the number of cars on the roads. However, since there has not been a commensurate improvement in the road infrastructure, the office areas of the city, in particular, are subject to pretty horrendous traffic jams. The congestion is being made worse at the moment by a program of pre-planned power stoppages, which are being operated due to the lack of electricity, which mean that traffic lights also go out of operation. (In such instances, the local rule is that the vehicles must all stop before they enter the intersection, then the vehicle that was first to pull out onto the intersection can go first, and then the other cars can follow on likewise). In my case, though, since the office of the business company where I am working is located in the outskirts of the city, I am lucky enough to be able to enjoy the drive to work quite comfortably every day, seeing all the people travelling in the other direction caught in traffic jams from the corner of my eye, while looking out of my window over the vast and magnificent scenery.
3. Food and drink
We can buy high quality wines quite cheaply and meat is also very reasonable. It is relatively expensive to try and buy Japanese foods like tofu (bean curd) or natto (fermented soy beans) but it is possible to get hold of then in Chinese or Korean food stores, so we do not really feel inconvenienced. There is also a great variety of restaurants, and during the relatively colder months from May to September, Chinese-style hot pots from the north-east of China is very popular among Japanese residents here.
4. Leisure time
In addition to visiting the famous tourist sites within South Africa, such as Cape Town or the Kruger National Park and Game Reserve, there are direct flights to Mauritius and the Seychelles, among others, so it is easy enough to visit holiday resort locations.
Marubeni Group magazine "M-SPIRIT" VOL.46 (July, 2008)