Japanese biologist feels closer to Turks than Japanese

A Japanese woman living in Istanbul for more than two decades finds she is able to better connect with people in Turkey than in her native Japan, praising the family ties in her now long-time home.

Ayaka Amaha Ozturk, a marine biologist in Istanbul University and a member of the Turkish Marine Research Foundation, said adapting to life in Turkey had not been difficult.

"Family ties are very strong among Turks, as in Japan. People take off their shoes when entering the house in Turkey, we also do this in Japan. Turks used to sleep on the floor, we also used to have [floor] mattresses," she said.

Amaha Ozturk said she met her husband while examining and collecting data of dolphins in the Black Sea for her doctoral thesis.

"At that time, I met my husband and he was working on the same subject, I decided to get married," she said.

"There is no difference between Turkish, American, Japanese. People are the same everywhere," she added.

Amaha Ozturk said the only difficulty she had experienced was due to her distance from her family in Japan.

"Turkish people are friendly, open to everything and clear on their words," she said, noting that Japanese people tended to be more reserved.

"Japanese people are harder to understand, you have to guess what they want to say. I have difficulty communicating with people when I go to Japan," she said.

Amaha Ozturk said Turkish people were hospitable just like Japanese people, adding: "For example, when you go to a restaurant with someone, you pay the bill yourself, Japanese people also do not let company pay the bill."

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