Christian, a Corsican in Japan Christian, Martelli is established for many years in the Tokyo area in Japan. Short presentation, 52 years old, married, business manager working in the import / export and online sales, my family is from the regions of Altu Taravu, Cruzzini and Balagna and I share my life between Ajaccio and Saitama Prefecture near Tokyo.
How did you come to Japan? I created a company importing products for motorcycles of collection in 2010, Okaeri-Japan, being myself a collector I had more and more difficult to find parts to maintain and repair my own machines and I So I am naturally turned to Japanese brands and accessories. The exchanges were done at a distance initially but the curiosity helping I went quickly to meet my suppliers and visit trade shows. Paradoxically, I had no particular interest in the country before that, so it was the commercial side that made me aware of it. I will not speak of an instant love at first sight but of a process of seduction that made me feel comfortable and in my place. Japanese people share many common values with those of our people, so we are not particularly confronted with problems of integration or management of any kind of “culture shock”. The process of seduction was not only limited to the country since I married a Japanese in 2012.
At the corner of a street in Kyoto What are you doing there? As mentioned above, I import products for the maintenance and improvement of collectible motorcycles and scooters, the demand being relatively important I had to expand to newer vehicles, including non-Japanese ones like Harley Davidson or BMW for example. The import line (or export, everything depends on where we are) being operational, I also offer ranges of products, always from the archipelago, but further from the middle of the bike, universe pop culture such as video games, manga, anime, figurines etc etc … but also clothing and to a lesser extent food. I also ran a machine Kakigori (Japanese crushed ice) in the region of Ajaccio last summer and she met with some success. My activity remains and remains however related to the mode of the bike, in the broadest sense of the term. Since Japan is in essence a country of two-wheelers, there are many small brands offering parts for domestic production or imported vehicles. I distribute some of my products through the online sales site, it mainly concerns the private clientele, the pros getting them directly to me. Customers are mainly located in the countries of northern Europe, Belgium, Germany, United Kingdom, Sweden etc etc … I also have some loyal customers in Spain, Greece and Portugal. I also work punctually with more distant buyers, North and South America, Australia, Hong Kong. The current trend is to customization with customizations often influenced by Japanese preparers like Brat Style in Akabane, an outlying area of Tokyo. The interest for this crop may come in Corsica but it is not yet the case for the moment so, in the meantime, I sell elsewhere.
Tell us a little about Tokyo I go to Tokyo at least twice a week, it takes about an hour and a half to get to Rapid, the local RER. The city where I live is considered small from a Japanese point of view since there are only 80,000 inhabitants. A large part of the population goes down every morning to Tokyo or Omiya and then returns in the evening, often very late. There is a bit of night life here, karaoke bar of course but also large multi-level shopping malls, arcade arcade rooms more delirious than each other. I often go to Shibuya, it’s a bit like the hip district of the capital, especially to Harajuku. There are a lot of small barks with groups playing live music, like the Jet Robot near Takeshita street for example. Yoyogi Park is also worth a visit, especially on Sundays, as locals and expatriates, often dressed in a totally surrealistic way, can be seen, from rocker to Lolita doll. The district of Akihabara is also very popular with tourists because it concentrates all the commercial activity related to the pop culture, it is however competed for some years by that of Odaiba, an artificial island built of any room in the bay of Tokyo. One can see among others a life-size Gundam robot. Shinjuku, a neighborhood where it is good to go out at night in Tokyo
Do you know a lot of Corsicans in Japan? I had to meet two or three compatriots during exhibitions or meetings organized in the gardens of the French Institute, days of taste among others, but I only know two in long-term resident status, the one works in the restoration to Minato Ku and is from Alta Rocca and another one evolves in the middle of the animation and the manga, him is Niulincu. Japan is a destination too far and can be too complicated access for Corsican, more than any other country is deserved and many Corsicans are traditionally afraid to leave the island …
The Odaiba district in Tokyo Do the Japanese know Corsica? The Japanese know relatively little of Corsica, they already have trouble locating Europe properly on a map, the destination is too far away and, after all, presents little interest for them. Contrary to what many people think there are large uninhabited expanses here, many national parks and the country’s very ecologic policy makes it possible to find wild animals such as monkeys or tanuki, kind of big raccoons. Washers, in the immediate suburbs of Tokyo, in the thick forests that cover the slopes of Mount Fuji. Corsica has only its nature and gastronomy to offer and that the Japanese have already at home, much more diverse than us in the extent that the country stretches from the island Hokkaido with a northern climate comparable to from Scandinavia or Canada’s Great North to the Okinawa archipelago, where the tropical environment would be closer to Polynesia or the West Indies. However, there are initiatives led by my friend Professor Hasegawa of the University of Yokohama, he regularly organizes stays for his students in partnership with the University of Corti. We also hosted a delegation of the Japanese Islands Committee last March, they came to study the principle of territorial continuity.
Osaka Castle Are there Corsican products in Japan? I know that a European produce store in Ginza in Tokyo offers Balagna olive oil, presented as a luxury product in small bottles, we can also find jams and, more surprisingly, I even saw beer in a specialty store near the Sky Tree. I try to promote some products but it is very difficult because there is no real infrastructure in Corsica working for the promotion of island products in such remote markets, so difficult. It seems that things are changing in the wine sector, I am in contact with the head of the Committee of Wines of Corsica, Asia sector, he is based in Hong Kong and seems motivated. So there is hope even if it will take time.
Balagne olive oil in the heart of Tokyo A tip to give to Corsicans who would like to try the adventure in Japan? As stated above, the country deserves to be, so it is necessary to be able to show courage and self-sacrifice and especially to think about what can be brought to it. the areas of activity where we can say that Corsican is better than the Japanese being relatively small better not to miss it. There is no tradition of immigration here and more than 99% of the inhabitants are Japanese, many of the remaining 1% are Asians, Koreans, Chinese, Filipinos etc … as well as the fact that a Corsican comes to live partly at home. they are considered something very exotic. Another difficulty, and size, the little interest they have for foreign languages, I could not live in my campaign Saitama if I did not have some notions of Japanese, we can of course live in large cities like Tokyo by speaking only English but things get complicated quickly as soon as you go beyond the limits of the megacity. To end the standard of living is of course higher than in Corsica, it must however be taken into account that the model is much more North American than European, a young or a corsican landing directly in Tokyo or Osaka will have trouble to find its marks and will feel less “framed” than in Europe, something to know.