Actress, MC and “brand enabler” Mampho Brescia has been announced as the first-ever Brand Japan Ambassador for South Africa. Having studied in the bustling Asian country, Mampho’s immersive experience of the island makes her a fitting ambassador to inspire dialogue and interest in the country, bridging the gap between Japan and South Africa.

“Being appointed as Brand Japan Ambassador is a full circle moment for me. I had the opportunity to experience Japan as a student and I discovered an entirely different world. It’s such an honour to now be in a position to represent the beautifully rich and colourful Japanese culture to South Africa,” shares Brescia.

The multi-award-nominated thespian shared her love for the country, what soon-to-be travellers can expect and what her new leading role in promoting the country entails:

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Your relationship with Japan began while studying there – can you share a bit about how that came about, your first impression of the country and your experience while there?

I was an international relations and political science major at Wits University wanting to further my studies in East Asian politics. Having applied for the honours programme, the opportunity came to apply for the exchange student program, so I did and was fortunate enough to get it. Japan was magnificently different, buzzing with activity, advanced technology. I mean the toilets talked and had heated seats during the winter months. It was a world I had never imagined. The people were friendly, welcoming, and very polite.

As Brand Japan Ambassador, do you have a vision as far as promoting tourism between the two nations? 

I have the opportunity to create my own ideas on how to bridge the gap between the two countries. With the advent of social media, this task becomes less tedious. I’ll be travelling to Japan in September, and I’ll be able to take South Africans along with me on a cyber journey. I’ll be meeting and engaging with stakeholders in the arts, business and government, touring the country in order to highlight the important relations being built by each country.

What notable similarities or differences when it comes to Japanese culture and lifestyle would South Africans find most intriguing?

Japan is awe-inspiring. The landscape and natural scenery are simply breathtaking. Apart from the language and variety in cuisine, I would say the diversity and creativity in their fashion, music and its expression. There are so many sub-cultures.

What are some of the must-do travel activities South Africans should visit Japan for?

If you are a shopaholic like I am, then definitely visit Osaka as the shopping experience there is insane! If you love the nightlife, then Rappongi is for you. For the nature-lovers, Mount Fuji is a must-see.

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What’s your top travel tip for first-time travellers to Japan?

If you travel to Japan during the rainy month of July (Tsuyu) come prepared; know how to ride a bike, hold an umbrella and speak or take pictures on your phone at the same time! It’s a cute and fun activity that happens during this time.

When is the best time to visit Japan?

I would say spring, for the festival of Sakura, when the cherry blossoms bloom.

Are there points etiquette South Africans should observe when visiting the country?

Politeness and how you greet.

For more on Brescia’s journey as the new Brand Japan Ambassador, follow her on Instagram.

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