Tokyo Calling: Experiences of Relocating to a Bustling Modern City

Dr. Veronika Rozehnal on moving from Munich to Tokyo

Veronika Rozehnal joined Daiichi Sankyo Europe in 2009 and worked in the Tissue and Cell Research Center, Munich, a pre-clinical research laboratory focusing on translational research. In September 2022, Veronika started an international assignment based at the Daiichi Sankyo Research and Development Center in Tokyo.

This is the second blog of an occasional series where Daiichi Sankyo employees share experiences of working for our company; we ask Veronika how she found moving from Germany to live and work in Japan.

What prompted your move to Tokyo?

I have been with Daiichi Sankyo for 14 years, and throughout my tenure, the company has continuously offered opportunities for both my professional and personal growth. Given that our global research and development center is located in Tokyo, moving here was a natural progression in my career.

What do you like the most about living in Tokyo?

Greater Tokyo is the most populous metropolitan area in the world, which gives it a true mega-city vibe. However, amidst the bustling atmosphere, it is possible to enjoy quieter residential areas which have lots of greenery, charming cafés, and small shops. One of the remarkable aspects of living here is the thoughtfulness and deep respect people have for one another, making the overall experience in Tokyo highly enjoyable.

What is your favourite thing to do in Tokyo?

Tokyo has many historical sites and unique places hidden among the glittering high-rise buildings and bustling modern streets. In my free time, I thoroughly enjoy exploring these hidden gems, immersing myself in the rich history and vibrant culture that Tokyo has to offer.

What is the expat / international community like in Tokyo?

The international community in Tokyo is incredibly diverse, bringing together people from various backgrounds and cultures. In my personal experience, our children attend the German School Tokyo Yokohama, which has provided us with a wonderful network of contacts. The school serves as a small island of German culture and traditions within Japan, offering a wide range of activities for both children and adults, from sports events and barbecues, to flea markets and even an annual Oktoberfest.

Is there something you just must see or do when you are in Tokyo?

Every time I’m in Tokyo, a visit to Kappabashi kitchen town is an absolute must for me. This unique market is a haven for kitchen enthusiasts, with countless shops that cater to every imaginable cooking, dining, or serving need. Conveniently located in the Asakusa district within walking distance of Tokyo's famous Sensoji Temple, as well as the Tokyo Metropolitan Ueno Park, it offers a delightful blend of culinary exploration and cultural immersion.

What is your most important learning since you moved to Tokyo?

Each culture possesses its own distinct world view—a lens through which they perceive and interpret the world around them. Embracing this notion encourages us to embrace diversity and appreciate the varied perspectives that exist. By incorporating the world views of others into our own perception, we expand our horizons, foster empathy, and cultivate the understanding of the complexities of the world. This openness to different world views promotes intercultural understanding, harmony, and unity among diverse communities.

How did you find the transition to living in a foreign country?

While the people in Japan are incredibly supportive, the language barrier remains a significant challenge for many foreigners. That's why it's crucial for companies to provide support to expats, particularly during their initial settling-in period. Additionally, assignees should make a genuine effort to acquire at least a basic understanding of the Japanese language to foster better integration and understanding, leading to smoother experiences of living, and working in Japan.

If you could pick one piece of advice to anyone moving to Tokyo, what would it be?

Living in Tokyo without a certain level of proficiency in the local language can indeed present challenges. Therefore, I highly recommend learning Japanese in advance. While it may not be the easiest language to grasp, having a basic level of proficiency can make a significant difference. It allows for better communication with locals, enhances daily interactions, and opens doors to a deeper understanding of the culture.

How is your new home different from your old one?

Despite relocating to one of the world's largest cities, we have found our new home in a quiet residential area, within a local neighbourhood. Here, we are fortunate to have access to parks, a community pool, playgrounds, and even a vineyard. From the moment we arrived, we were warmly welcomed by our neighbours, enabling us to establish strong connections and create a sense of community. In many ways, our new home in Tokyo shares similarities with our previous residence in Munich, fostering a feeling of familiarity and a sense of belonging.

How did your family find the move to Tokyo?

The relocation to Tokyo has been a truly positive experience for our family, as it has allowed us to broaden our horizons and create wonderful memories together. Each day in Japan brings new opportunities for exploration, cultural immersion, and personal growth.

What is one piece of advice you would give to someone when moving internally at a company from one location to another?

Maintaining sensitivity in your interactions and gaining a deeper understanding of your colleagues' motivations and how they align with the company's purpose and objectives is crucial. By doing so, you can foster stronger relationships, promote teamwork, and contribute to a more harmonious work environment.

We hope you have enjoyed reading about Veronika’s experience of moving from Munich to Tokyo, as well as her insights on the challenges and opportunities of living and working in a country with a different culture.

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