Cornelia was always fascinated by Japanese culture so four years ago she packed her bags and moved to Japan! She now lives in Yokohama where she's been teaching English and creating content for her YouTube channel where she candidly vlogs about her daily life and travels. We talked about what you need to know before venturing into the unknown in Japan, her top cherry blossom spots in Tokyo, and why filming Halloween in Shibuya was one of her favourite moments.
Hi, thanks for talking to us today. Could you tell us a little about yourself?
Hey, my name is Cornelia, I was born and raised in Wolverhampton, U.K. I decided to follow my dream of living in Japan and have now been living in Yokohama Japan for 4 years. I teach English and also create content on YouTube. I’m often told I’m outgoing, fun and also a good story teller but I’ll let you decide if that’s true hehe.
What drew you to working and living in Japan? How did you find it?
I’ve always been interested in Japanese culture since a young age. I slowly found that a lot of the things I was fascinated by related to Japanese culture, so I decided to come and live here to know what it was really like. I do miss my family at times but I am enjoying my life here. I learn new things every day in my work life and private life. There are uncomfortable moments however...I feel safe and free. To know what I really mean, check out my vlogs.
Do you have any advice for people thinking about moving to Japan?
Be respectful of rules and culture but also don’t be afraid to be proud of your own culture and identity. It does help to study the language to make life easier however if you choose a big city you can get away with limited Japanese.
Do your research before coming here, people have a lot of expectations and sometimes are let down by the realities of living in Japan. Japan is an amazing country but living and visiting are two separate things.
How did your YouTube channel Cornyco come about?
I’ve always enjoyed flexing my creative skills and production in multimedia. When I was little I used to make home videos, comics and animations. Japan is a source of wonder, excitement and creativity for me, so I thought it was the perfect opportunity to start my channel here. The name is a blend of my nickname Corny and community. I wanted to show and tell of my experiences as a foreigner in Japan. I hope I can succeed in growing a community of people who are interested in Japan too.
Can you give us any travel tips for people who are visiting Japan for the first time?
For now, cash is king, not everywhere accepts credit cards. Especially if you decide to travel off the beaten path. It helps to have a pocket Wi-Fi and a phone. Some secret spots are difficult to get to or navigate. Try a lot of the food, it’s so good! Research which season you would like to visit, they all have a very different vibe. A lot of places take reservations only, so be sure to research thoroughly the places you’d like to visit.
What are your top three must-see spots in Japan?
I love Kamakura, I am a sucker for temples and spaces that have nature and feel peaceful at times.
Can I cheat and say Kyoto/Osaka? It’s a good idea to pair the two because they are in close distance. Kyoto is beautiful and traditional. You can see Geisha and Maiko and olden buildings/temples and try a lot of traditional famous food. The architecture is stunning. I like Osaka for the friendliness of the locals, night life and great food spots.
Lastly, Tokyo. There is so much to see and do. Shibuya, Harajuku to Shinjuku. There are so many famous spots and exciting activities to do.
These will all probably change once I’m able to travel again.
Do you have any food recommendations?
Fresh seafood, sushi, takoyaki (octopus balls), yakitori (meat on a skewer), gyutan (cow tongue) , variations of donburi (rice bowls) for the non-meat eaters vegetarian okonomiyaki (noodle/vegetable pancake), vegetable tempura (battered fried veggies), Japanese vegetable curry (be careful some of the bases for broths and seasoning is fish) so do your research.
Any unexpected funny incidents or stories you've had while filming in Japan?
Hmmm luckily I’ve had no incidents but one of my favourite moments was filming at Halloween in Shibuya. Japan is quite a reserved country, so seeing people being loud, confident and jolly was fun. I had a lot of people willing to say hi, take a photo or jump into my video randomly.
Our word of the month is ‘hanafubuki’ meaning a blossom blizzard and used for when the wind catches falling petals in a flurry. What's your go-to place to see spring blossoms in Japan?
It’s very hard to choose! I love cherry blossoms! Recently I vlogged the Meguro River. It’s long and you are sure to find a pretty view any which way you look. I love Shinjuku Park too. It’s a large park and has so many spaces to view different kinds of cherry blossoms. It’s nice because you don’t feel like you are in the middle of the city and if you ever miss U.K. parks there are areas reminiscent of those too.
For more background on Cornelia's hometown of Yokohama, check out our article on how it became Japan's most international city here