You gave me a papaya

Eight months of working at a foreign kitchen, I started to build up a firm relationship with Mr and Mrs Toyota, and over the next five years……

1991 spring, I arrived in the megalopolis of Tokyo alone without any knowledge of the Japanese language. There were fewer than 80,000 foreigners or foreign students in the whole of Japan back in those years, while the number of foreign tourists was just around two million.

Even though there were not too many foreign students in Japan, the convenience stores, fast food restaurants and other more formal restaurants refused to hire us as workers.

I still can remember that most foreign students could only manage to find some odd jobs at family-run factories, or collecting garbage behind garbage trucks, door-to-door delivery of morning newspapers, or cleaning up offices after dark.

Back then the seniors would tell us, go around your neighborhood to try your luck, perhaps some yoghurt factory would need a couple of hourly workers.


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