The Chinese University of Hong Kong
events & news

[ALUMNI INTERVIEW] Keisuke Suzuki – Down to Earth Japanese Living in Hong Kong Telling His Story in Fluent Cantonese

Keisuke Suzuki – Down to Earth Japanese Living in Hong Kong
Telling His Story in Fluent Cantonese

“We cannot see the true face of Lushan, for we are deep inside the mountain.” Quoting the verses by Chinese poet Su Shi, Keisuke Suzuki (20/GS/Chinese Studies) explains his decision to pursue Chinese studies in Hong Kong, reflecting his solid foundation in Chinese culture. With a passion for the city, he enrolled in CUHK in 2019. As the pandemic began, Keisuke felt bored at home and launched his Cantonese-speaking YouTube channel to share the life of a Japanese living in Hong Kong, which was well-received by netizens. He was then invited to join a dating reality TV programme. With soaring popularity came new opportunities and challenges. Like the wisdom in Su Shi's poem, a person's vision is limited by his position. A new horizon can only be opened up when he dares to jump outside of his circle.

Keisuke enjoys local foods like pineapple buns, iced lemon tea, dim sum and deep-fried dough in a steamed roll.

Saving up HK$300,000 in Two Years to Study in Hong Kong
Most Impressed by Prof. Tim Summers

Keisuke was born in Nagoya in Aichi Prefecture, Japan. In 2015, he became an exchange student in Chinese culture and economics at Shenzhen University, where he met some friends from Hong Kong. Being fascinated by the city's vibrant lifestyle, he began yearning to emigrate here to enrich himself. This has also changed his introvert personality. Upon graduation, he worked for two years and saved up HK$300,000 to further his education here in 2019. “Studying Chinese studies in Hong Kong enables a broader perspective to comprehend the complexity of Chinese society. CUHK has a cross-disciplinary curriculum in Chinese Studies, which is supported by the resourceful Institute of Chinese Studies. I have developed a network of close friends here. I admire our class representative, Mr. Yeung, who is a knowledgeable man with a proactive personality, excellent leadership qualities and rich life experience. I will never forget Prof. Tim Summers for his inspirational teaching style that stimulates self-initiated learning among the classmates as well.”

After completing his MA in Chinese Studies at CUHK, Keisuke (centre) takes his graduation photo at the Pavilion of Harmony located at New Asia College.

Embracing Opportunities by Launching YouTube Channel
In his first year in Hong Kong, Keisuke has fallen deeper in love with the city and already decided to stay and start his career here after his graduation. “In a compact place like Hong Kong, where the urban areas and nature are close by, it is easy to achieve work-life balance. While I work in Tsim Sha Tsui during the week, I enjoy exploring the less well-known places in the countryside on weekends. The local foods, like French toast, pineapple buns, milk tea and dim sims, are quite suitable for Japanese taste. Also, Hong Kong people are more individualistic, and encourage others to take on new challenges. Under this atmosphere, I have made personal breakthroughs and reaped rewards that are far beyond my imagination.”

It all began with the pandemic. In early-2020, Keisuke had to stay at home but his mind was very active. “Most social activities were restricted at the time, so I started a YouTube channel with two main goals in mind: to learn Cantonese and meet the locals. Featuring the daily life of a young Japanese living in Hong Kong, my channel is Cantonese-speaking, which is quite unique. I gained more exposure following some media interviews, leading to an invitation to take part in a dating reality show on television. This experience has helped me to speak better Cantonese, grow as a person, and be more willing to embrace new challenges.” The increased popularity brought him more opportunities in other television programmes, advertising endorsements and writing for the Japanese media, among others. The sense of fulfilment is fuelling an even stronger affection for the city in Keisuke.

Keisuke has stayed in subdivided flats in Hong Kong for three years, including the “Monster Building” in Quarry Bay.

His Cantonese-speaking YouTube channel explores lesser-known places even among the local residents, like Sha Tau Kok.

Honing his Cantonese by Sharing Tables at Local Restaurants
During his undergraduate studies in Japan, Keisuke has learned Putonghua. With self-determination and hard work when he first arrived in Hong Kong, he is now fluent in Cantonese. “I created a special language environment where I must speak in Cantonese whenever I went shopping, got a haircut, had a meal, and things like these. I quickly developed a basic grasp in about six months, although I was not proficient enough to communicate effectively with others. Thanks to a culture of sharing tables at local restaurants, I can proactively talk with other patrons to practice my Cantonese.”

To fully experience life in different parts of Hong Kong, Keisuke moves around the city every year. He is currently residing at a village house in Yuen Long. “I have stayed in Tai Wai, Sham Shui Po and Quarry Bay. Among these areas, I love Sham Shui Po the most. Besides many traditional shops and small businesses, there are also the latest technology gadgets. It truly reflects Hong Kong's diversity in such a confined space.” Having stayed in the city for nearly four years, Keisuke admits he is still getting used to Hong Kong people's more direct way of speaking when compared to Japanese, and the city's hot and humid weather. He misses the Japanese style hot spring the most. Into the future, Keisuke plans to reside here for seven years to obtain his Hong Kong permanent identity card, and is looking forward to staying here for life. “Hong Kong has given me many wonderful experiences, and really changed my life. While living here on my own is stressful, and my family in Japan are worried about me, I love the exciting lifestyle here. I believe I didn't have anything to begin with, so I have nothing to lose.”

Participating in the dating reality television show has given Keisuke (front role, first from right) a boost in popularity.

"CU Alumni Magazine" Video Interview: (Chinese only)

Published in "CU Alumni Magazine" Issue 114 by Alumni Affairs Office 2023

Read online: CU Alumni Magazine Issue No. 114 (Chinese Version Only)
pdf version:
ISSUU version: