Profile and Leo's Take
Age：26 Years in Paris: 21
Iris was introduced to to me through Jun. Iris is part of that half Japanese (and international crowd) in Paris that I got to join on a few occasions during my stay, and is also a researcher of cancer. It was fun talking with Iris because, yes, we had common friends, but also because there were a lot of core ideas and values we shared: comparisons between Japan and Europe (or even Tokyo and various European cities), the effect of the internet and technology on everyday people and their everyday lives, and life as a “half” and growing up always stuck, for better or for worse, between two countries and cultures. Some of this you can see in Iris’s answers, which I highly recommend (also the rare occasion where they are translated from Japanese). If I were to choose a few they would be closeness (Q.2), representations (Q.3), marriage/children (Q.9). and dreams (Q.12). So Iris thanks so much for meeting up, and I know we’ll meet again!! Paris, Tokyo, or wherever in the world!!
Place for shooting and reason
This is a bistro near the Opera, and the reason I chose it was because it was close to the restaurant we just ate at (laughs).
>>>Because we have to do cafe, right? We are Parisians (laughs)
If you were handed US$2500 and received a one month vacation where you could live in one city, anywhere in the world, where would you choose? What would you do?
I think I’d just go near the beach somewhere. I’ve always lived in the city…and one month sort of feels like holidays. So…I really love the ocean, somewhere you can just go to the beach every morning and just gaze out (laughs). Somewhere the water is beautiful…maybe Thailand? I went to Greece last summer, and that was great too. The people were nice, and the food was good.
>>>Greece! Nice! This is something I can ask you because I know you a little now, but you don’t want to go to Martinique? Where your boyfriend is from?
Oh, Martinique sounds nice too (laughs). But I think I’ll go to Martinique eventually anyway, so. Even if I didn’t have this special month.
What country do you feel “close” to, other than your own?
I love England, or I guess I could say I love London. Why? Because it’s very European—the cityscape and the people—but it’s really similar to Tokyo too. The activity there.
>>>Wow! That’s what I wrote in one of my essays! Haha
Really? (Laughs) Yeah, it has everything that’s great about a European city, and it has Tokyo’s 24/7/365 always something going on feeling which really matches each other. That’s what I love about it. But London is also super expensive…(laughs). I’d love to do further research in London after my doctorate, but, yeah…a little too expensive. That’s really the only negative to that city.
But I love other cities in England too. Last year I was interning in Manchester for six months, and it was a nice city too. However compared too London, it was a little quiet (laughs).
What one "thing" and "place" best represents your city?
I think everyone thinks of the Eiffel Tower first but, for me what represents Paris…(thinking)…it has to be the Parisians. That show-off, cockiness. Everyone’s a little smug and like “I’ve got so much knowledge, I’m super cultured, I’ve read all these hard books, and I’m doing all this cool stuff, all of which you’ll never know anything about” (Leo bursts out in laughter). Yeah, those kind of people. It’s not just guys, but girls too. Parisians are easily identifiable.
>>>Do you have a place?
Place…the Seine. Yeah the Seine, along the river, where all the people gather. The equivalent to Yoyogi Park in Tokyo.
If you were to redsign your country's flag, how would you do it?
I don’t think I would, but if I did, I’d probably make something completely goofy. Like a white background with a giant croissant in the middle (both laugh).
>>>I love it! Why did you want to make something so goofy?
Well, as I was saying before, the French people are way to serious about themselves and everything in general.
>>>So destroy the bleu, blanc, rouge!
Yeah! Too serious, too many show-offs (laughs).
Please tell me the images you have for the following words.
Well because I’ve been going to the ocean every summer for holidays ever since I was a kid. I would go to Tokyo every summer, but before that I would visit my French grandparents. And they lived by the ocean, so.
>>>Which ocean? Was it Southern France?
No, not Southern France, but Bordeaux.
>>>Oh I see, so the west coast. Which means it was really the ocean, the Atlantic Ocean!
Yeah. And I loved going there as a child, but now I’m so busy…so go to the beach and —yeah I like to swim too but—what is it, really French? But just yeah, lie on my back and just listen to the waves. I could do that the entire day.
>>>Very European way of spending time at the beach!
The sun…I love the sun too!! (laughs) If I have the sun and the beach, that’s all I need. Perfect. Oh, and I love the sun too but I also love summer. The heat of the summer sun on your skin.
>>>Oh you like that! I’ve had people who say they hate that. Interesting.
Hmmm…something that confronts everyone eventually…I don’t know. I think everyone thinks too much about death. About dying.
>>>Why do you think that?
Being scared about death, or trying to prolong life—well yeah, I understand people wanting to live longer if possible, but…yeah. Also, this becomes a little religious but, what comes after death, and such topics. I don’t really believe in anything so I don’t thing about it very much, but I think in general, people think too much about death. What is death, what comes after death—why don’t we thing about how to have fun while we’re living, before death arrives. That’s what I think.
>>>Interesting coming from a cancer researcher.
Yeah (laughs). Of course, you should try to avoid death when you can.
How do you feel about the future? Both yourself and mankind.
For myself, since I’m doing my doctorate now I have a secure future for the next two years, but after that I really have no idea. Three, five, 10 years down the line, especially in professional terms, everything is up in the air. As for my private life, I’m just like any other normal person (laughs). I want a family, I guess. I have vague feelings like that. But I have no idea how to make all this come to fruition so, I can’t really say too much.
Regarding mankind…I’m worried (laughs).
>>>You’re laughing while you’re saying you’re worried! (laughs).
Well, there’s just too many people, and we’re using too much energy. Then there’s global warming…yeah, I’m worried. So it really all comes down to the younger generation, and whether we and they are going to straight things out. We’re talking about a generation that’s born with iPhones…as we were talking before, I have a feeling that if the world becomes a place full with people who can’t process information correctly, it might end up becoming worse. So I guess I just have to hope that there will be a few really bright minds that come out.
What's the most important "thing" for you?
Like, other than family?
>>>No, it can be your family (laughs). Why do you say “other than”?
Well just because I though everyone must say family.
>>>No no, you’d be surprised. People give a bunch of answers. So why family?
Well, its because family is something that you can’t detach from. Family will always be there. And…well I believe the person you marry will become your family too. It’s important to have loved ones around me. If I can get support from the people around me, both my professional and private life becomes that much more fun!
What do you look for in a partner?
(Thinking)…first of all, a sense of humour.
>>>And what’s your definition of that?
Someone I can goof off with…and also, someone who’ll laugh at the same jokes. And…yeah, that’s first impression, and that’s important, but after that, someone who truly understands me. Someone who understands the past me, the present me, and the future me. If there’s that, that mutual understanding, I believe we can have a great relationship.
Do you want to get married? Do you want children? What do you want to do with them? How do you want them to grow up?
[Second part of question]
Hmm…I know, “curiosity”!
Yeah, I want my kids to be curious. I don’t necessarily want them to become scientists or researchers (both laugh), but I want them to always hold that sense of “why?” towards everything.
>>>I can relate so much!!
Also, I want them to become a much more positive than me. I’m such a worrisome person, and I don’t want them to become like that (laughs).
>>>Is there anything you want to do with them?
If I have a girl, I’d want to go shopping with her (laughs). Yeah, I know it’s a pretty standard answer. But I really love fashion, and when I was in high school, I was stuck choosing which path to take. Goo into fashion, or go into science.
What would be the ideal thing to see the first moment you wake up? What would be the ideal thing to see the moment before you fall asleep?
My boyfriend’s face!
For both (laughs). And, I also like waking up to sunlight.
What was the happiest moment in your life? What was the most terrifying moment in your life?
I was really happy when I got accepted into my doctorate program. It’s a scholarship, so when I got that, yeah, I was really happy. It was one year ago. Because leading up to that was really difficult…I applied to a bunch of places, and was waiting for acceptance. Once I knew that I could do research at the same place for three years, that was what made me the most happy. Before that the longest I did research at a single place was at Keio University in Japan, and after I came back to Europe, it was all internships. Basically a few months each.
>>>Do you have a terrifying moment?
It was in Tokyo, I think about a year or two after I go there, and I was at a sheesha bar in Roppongi for my ex-boyfriend’s birthday party. And we were all going crazy and having fun, when my head started spinning. I wasn’t really ever a strong drinker, but this spinnng—I was staring at the ground an it was all messed up, the floor turning into waves. Yeah, it was a first. I started thinking, “ok, something is wrong” and so I decided to go home. And I was being sort of escorted back to the station, when everything in sight just started spinning, and went black.
Yeah. And when I came back, I was on my side, hearing screams “Iris!! Iris!!” I had passed out.
>>>Like completely blacked out?
Yeah. That was scary. To think what would have happened if I had gone home alone. I’ve never had such an experience, before or even since.
>>>So somebody caught you as you passed out and were falling.
Yeah, my ex. He was the on who said he’ll take me to the train station so.
>>>Wow, so yeah, I guess if you were by yourself, you would have just collapsed onto the street. That’s scary,
Yeah, and I was actually waiting at the crosswalk for the light to change, so, yeah. And even now, I still have no memory of actually passing out. It went from “Shit…I feel terrible” to suddenly “Iris!! Iris!!!” To me, it was more “what? Why am I on the ground?” (laughs). So yeah, it’s pretty terrifying looking back on the situation.
What was your childhood dream? What would you say to the childhood you, now? And what is your dream now?
When I was a kid I wanted to be a fashion designer. For a long time. I loved making my own clothes and…(thinking)…what I’d like to say most to my high school me is…so, I was always a good student. I could get the good grades. But I started hanging out a lot with friends, and what I’d like to tell her is, “Study up, girl” (both laugh). That’s what I’d like to say. Getting into university was the same, basically “if I can get in somewhere good, that’s all that matters”. So yeah, “Study, even if you got the grades”. Don’t study just for the test, to get into uni or getting a good job, study for yourself. To become a better human.
>>>Wow, that’s a great answer. It might be first too.
Really?? Yeah and…well I did a bunch of things that I wouldn’t be too proud of if say my daughter did them, but those are things we all do in our adolescence. I don’t think there’s a point in saying “don’t do it!!”.
>>>Yeah, we all go through that phase.
Yeah, and because we do them, we learn, and gain experience, right?
>>>Yep. Do you have a dream or goal now?
I want to become a researcher…or rather, keep on doing and furthering my research…actually, up until about last year, that was the most important thing for me. Like, if I couldn’t reach that apex, my life would be rendered meaningless (laughs). But now, I realised my private life is pretty important too (laughs). For example, say you were really good at your job, and became this really famous scientist, but if you were unhappy in your private life, there would be no point. That’s the way I started to think. Even if you’re really good at your job, if you’re alone, it’s pointless. That’s why, yeah, I want to do the best in my research given the circumstances, do it right, do it correctly, but don’t want to become like this [makes tunnel vision gesture].
>>>Yeah. Tunnel vision, for all those reading and can’t see hand gestures.
If life’s fun, that’s all that matters. That’s the way I think now. Have a kid, have a dog, go to the summer house for the holidays. Yeah, a normal good life.
>>>The Japanese dream!
No, the French are the same too (laughs).
>>>Good point. More like “Japanese dream, European reality” (laughs)
True (laughs). Yeah, so working at a fun job you like, and come home to a fun home—basically, all that matters is if its fun!