Guide of the Month November 2019

Learn more about Norma, our guide from Tokyo

22 Dec · Jessica Iragne ·

Guide of the Month November 2019: Norma from Tokyo

Today we’re more than happy to introduce you to Norma, from our Tokyo team.

1.   Can you tell us a little about yourself?

My name is Norma Delgado, and I’m an artist from Aguascalientes, México. I also go by artist name Norma Pezadilla. In Spanish “pesadilla” means “nightmare,” and that’s the nickname that my son gave me 11 years ago when he couldn’t pronounce my full name. I loved the name and kept on using it, so many people actually think “Pezadilla” is my real last name. My dad feels a bit sad about me not using the family name, but for me this is a fun and beautiful nickname that comes from the person I love the most in the world, regardless of the meaning of the word.

Norma and son

2.    When did you come to Japan, and what brought you here?

My love for Japan started around 25 years ago when I watched my first Japanese animation. After that, it just became a part of my personality. I’ve always wished for the chance to come to this wonderful country someday and walk the streets that my favorite characters walked on, fill my luggage with manga, and just be close to the culture that gave rise to some of the most precious and exciting moments in my life.

I’ve been living in Japan for five years, but when I first came, I was looking for the chance to learn Ukiyo-e. As an artist, I specialize in “etching and printed arts,” and Ukiyo-e was love at first sight for me. The way that artists carve the wood, the different layers of color used when printing, the overlapping of colors to bring new ones out, the whole process is mesmerizing. Yes, it is a lot of hard work, but that is why I love the printed arts. It is not something quick or immediate; it is the artist having an intimate relation with the materials that they are using to create.

Etching workshop at Saitama

So in the end, it has been a mix of many things. As you can tell, I’m a geek, an, otaku, and an artist, but I also used to be a teacher, sang in a metal band and, before I decided to study arts, I wanted to be a chef. I’ve always thought of food as something that brings culture, people and hearts together, so one of my favorite things to do is cook, especially for the people I love. Eating something that warms your heart with memories, flavors and aromas is one of the most amazing feelings you can get.

3. How long have you been working with Arigato Japan?  And what do you like about your job?

When I had just moved to Japan, I started working as a hostel manager in Nakano. I loved being around people and helping them find their way in Japan. After a few years, I had to leave that job and I was so lucky to find Arigato Japan where I’ve been working for around 2 years. What I love about this job is having the chance to talk with people, show them around, and share the always-delicious food.

Norma's family

This job brings me back to when I just arrived and reminds me how lucky I am to be living here. Seeing everyone’s faces on their first day in Japan and answering all their questions, even the craziest ones, I just love remembering how it feels to be new to this country every time I’m giving a tour. It’s a feeling that keeps one humble and thankful.

When communicating with people from a completely different culture, I have to be open to learning their pace and understanding of things. But in the end, I always realize that more than nationalities, borders and customs, we are all human with the same struggles, fears and joys, and that is my favorite thing about working with Arigato Japan.

4.  What is your favorite Japanese food and why? What are the main differences with Mexican food?

Ah yes, let’s not forget that I work by sharing and talking about food, and that is my second favorite thing about my job, I learn a lot about food, and not only food from Japan because I always get curious (I confess that I’m a helpless Wikipedia-geek) and enjoy doing searches for similar ingredients in my own country whenever I learn something new about Japanese food.

Pozole

Of course Mexican and Japanese cuisine are not even close in flavor, but we do share a lot of aspects, such as having traditional dishes that are thousands of years old, seasonal flavors, and regional specialties. In both Japan and México, whenever you visit any part of the country, the first thing people suggest you do is try dishes specific to that area; both countries have very rich and ancient traditions that give a lot of depth to using the ingredients that you can find in each local area.

But what I really miss about México is the huge variety in fruits and veggies. The first thing I do every time I go back home is ask my mom to make a fruit salad in the biggest bowl she has. And yes, pozole and tacos occupy the biggest portion of my foodie heart, but ramen, sashimi and yuba (soy milk fat) have earned another huge part.

My life after trying ramen for the first time has never be the same: from salty to miso base broth, and from abura-soba to tsukemen or hiyashi-chuka noodles, it is one of the most versatile dishes in Japanese cuisine. Whether it’s sophisticated or something you eat to heal a broken heart, ramen is the king of the noodles for me. I also happen to love “Naruto” from Masashi Kishimoto, and yes, my obsession with ramen started because of the famous manga.

Norma and Naruto

But now, after all I’ve learned with Arigato Japan, it has become more and more enjoyable to explore the ingredients, the shops, the specialties… ramen is the best!!!

5. What is your favorite Arigato Japan tour and why would you recommend it to our readers?

It is hard to choose a favorite tour… I actually want to learn them all. Each one of them has something to enjoy, and depending on the season, some of them can be extra enjoyable. During the winter, I love doing Hidden Gems in Shimbashi and Crazy Cute Kawaii at Harajuku.

Firstly, it’s because you get to have some of the most delicious winter dishes. And secondly, it’s because the weather is good at that time of the day and you can warm yourself up walking in the sun. During summer and autumn, I love doing the Golden Gai tour in Shinjuku or Shibuya. Those are the best seasons of the year to enjoy these areas.

Spring is always good for the Sakura Tour, which I couldn’t train for last year, but I’m looking forward to learning about it and sharing knowledge about the food and area with guests. Another thing I love about working at Arigato Japan is that whenever someone comes to visit, regardless of who they are, I always have something fun to do with them because the company has options for every preference. I hope you enjoyed reading this and hope you soon on one of my tours!!!

Thank you Arigato Japan for making me guide of the month. I feel honored and proud to be a part of this company!!!

Arigato Japan Family

If you come to Tokyo, be sure to join one of our delicious food tours and ask for Norma!

Jessica Iragne

Twitter @WireJess

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