Tsholofelo Photo, a 27-year-old South African female from Centurion, Pretoria – South Africa: Recently ventured into studying towards her MSc in Tropical Medical and Global Health at Nagasaki University in Japan in an area called Nagasaki.

OR Tambo to Japan
OR Tambo to Japan

She left for Japan on the 1st of September 2017 to study towards her Masters. On arrival, she had orientation for about 2 weeks in Tokyo from the 4th till the 14th September 2017 before heading to the designated prefecture, Nagasaki (prefectures are like provinces for us South Africans or Major Cities for Global citizens).

Africans in Asia - Nagasaki University
Africans in Asia – Nagasaki University
South Africans in Japan
South Africans in Japan
  1. How long is the flight & how was your initial experience?

Travel time was 19 hours; the first flight was from O.R Tambo to Hong Kong for about 12 hours then we had a 3-hour transit In Hong Kong. From Hong Kong to Tokyo it took about 4 hours.

The experience was amazing, I was with fellow South Africans on the plane and we drank, ate, spoke and laughed, until we eventually passed out as the flight is simply that long. We obviously watched movies in between. Although the flight itself was long, the experience wasn’t so bad, I think we were trying to subconsciously calm each other down.

Nagasaki, Japan - Things to do
Nagasaki, Japan – Things to do


  1. What was your initial reaction once you landed? 

OMG! It’s so clean! We arrived late so a mate and I went to grab Mc Donald’s and chilled. Took everything in – (we couldn’t sleep).

Nagasaki Japan
Nagasaki Japan
  1. Where did you stay, and how was the experience?

  We stayed at Sun route Plaza Hotel in Shinjuku, Yikes! The Service in Japan is A class! Not just the hotel, service EVERYWHERE! Amazing!

Japan Streets and culture
Japan Streets and culture
  1. Tell us about the overall culture and how is it different from that of South Africans?

 Japan is a beautiful Island Country, so much to see and explore. They have the best sightseeing landmarks; the Architecture is insane. The people are introverts, and most only speak when spoken to, they come off as shy but once you get to know them, they are actually the coolest.

They are probably the best creatives, very smart people and surely know how to have fun.


Asian Sea Food
Asian Sea Food
Tsholo takes over Japan
Japanese Restaurants
Asian Food in Nagasaki - Japan
Asian Food in Nagasaki – Japan
Banana Flavored Kit Kat
Banana Flavored Kit Kat


The food is good, not your South African Meat option type of food but they have a wide variety of foods you can try out. I actually love the food here, just add a shisanyama, n an African food outlet then we good for life.

Everyday life in Japan
Everyday life in Japan

The language barrier is frustrating, you sometimes find yourself having to communicate using google translate, so the best thing you can do for yourself is to learn the language. The population is crazy – in terms of how full of energy they are, people don’t sleep. I love their transport system though: more trains, bicycles or walking, with fewer cars on the roads and traffic. I must say they have a more productive train system- it gets tricky though but the apps help, all in all.  Japan is great!


Taking the train in Japan
Taking the train in Japan
  1. How was it like navigating the area, was there any language barrier?

I have an app called google translate, I use that for intense conversation, otherwise, I can get a basic conversation going.

The City of Japan
The City of Japan
  1. Tell us about the weather, how does it feel?

Well, when it is hot is Humid, and Cold is COLD.  The temperature can go down to (-9), it can rain, snow and the sun may come out to play all in the same week.

Japan Weather
Japan Weather in  September


  1. How is the food and the people?

The Consideration Japanese people have is beautiful. Their kindness and eagerness for the next person’s comfort is a warming sensation that will put you at ease. The Food! (amazing) The fact that there’s little to NO CRIME – the safety of walking late at night with your purse and phone in hand knowing that nobody will attack you nor steal your belongings. The air and atmosphere are just so great!

Japanese culture
Japanese culture
  1. What can one look forward to, what is fun to do in Japan?

Depends what your interests are, but of course:

  • There’s Clubs – great music (Shrines and Castles)
  • Roof Tops for a lazy feel and Amazing buildings to check out.
  • Bamboo Forests, Islands, Beaches.
  • One can visit historical buildings, check the Harbor out there are amazing restaurants with beautiful views.
  • There’s a lot of all you can eat n drink specials in most restaurants
  • They have they own little Disney World, Madame Tus Saud’s, Statue of Liberty and a lot more to see actually: Robots, Aquariums, Zoos, Boat Rides… you name it!



Japan by Night - What to do


9. What advise would you give someone visiting Japan for the first time?

You have to come to Japan and experience it! Try their main dishes (Ramen), check out a club.

– Go on a bus tour.

– SHOP!!! They have the cutest outfits

– Try visit as many prefectures as you can; Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, Okinawa, Nagoya are a must.

Tsholo takes over Japan
Tsholo takes over Japan
  1. Do you have plans of traveling more?

After completing my Masters? Sure I will. I’ve made friends but I’m yet to do more Asian countries.

Thank you so much Tsholo for making time to answer questions as part of our April Travel feature. We wish you only the best as you soar higher in your career and go on to change the world through medicine. The World is yours!

Xo – Lesedi Dawn

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