“I was completely lost. Wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my life after university. I didn’t really have any ambition like to be an astronaut or a doctor. But having studied Japanese in Moscow, I tried my luck here in Japan. My mom referred me to a Japanese friend with connections to an IT company in Tokyo. Now I work with robots and see artificial intelligence in action. It’s fun. I used to shun math and programming so it’s funny how things have changed. 案内ロボット (annai robotto) or guide robots are on the rise with the coming of the Olympics. You see them in restaurants, greeting customers and taking orders. There’s even a hotel, called Henn-na Hotel, where the receptionist is an android and there’s a dinosaur robot in the lobby. We program them to interact with people and know when you’re approaching. Soon you’ll see them at bus stops or even train platforms.
“Although I enjoy being in Japan, I feel like there are just too many rules. I’m not criticizing them. In fact, I understand why they’re there. It makes sense to locals since they’ve been around Japan longer. But not so much for me. Especially the hierarchical senpai and kōhai relationship. Of course I respect people. I respect them for something they did. If they’re older than me, maybe they have wisdom that I don’t. But when people who are, say, only a year older, expect you to bow down to them, it makes me cringe a bit. What have they done to earn my respect? And when I ask people why certain things are the way they are, they just say, ‘Because it’s supposed to be that way.’ They just follow rules. Which is great. I understand. I’m just not sure I want to accept all of them. Maybe the thrill is gone because I stopped being a tourist when I started working here. Time to embrace reality.”