One of the latest players to make the jump from J-League to the Bundesliga, Stuttgart defender Gotoku Sakai has been fortunate to have a mentor in attacker Shinji Okazaki, who took the same journey one year ago.
The two have frequently appeared together for interviews and publicity events, and earlier this week was no different as they discussed topics ranging from their coach's strength to the adjustment to German culture with Spox.com.
"[Okazaki] tells me, 'Go get something to drink! Go get something to eat!' And I must hurry," laughed 20-year-old Sakai when discussing the relationship he has with the Samurai Blue regular. "I'm his apprentice and he is my teacher, but Shinji is much more childish and cheeky than I. It's not fair!"
Both players also discussed the differences they've encountered in the transition to living in Germany.
"In Japan, there is great bustle and movement everywhere," Okazaki revealed. "In Germany, however, there is a lot of emphasis on nature. My wife and kids love to walk."
"Germans are more emotional than we are, and they are more quicker to let their feelings be known," added Sakai, who himself is half-German.
"It does not matter whether they are on the football pitch or at home relaxing - they act aggressively."
In addition to a new environment, the two Japanese had to adjust to new positions on the pitch.
"In Japan I was a striker through and through. One who played up front and always wanted to score goals," Okazaki reflected. "But even before I signed with Stuttgart I knew that I would have to change.
"I'm used exactly where I'm most valuable for the team."
Sakai, a natural right back, expressed his comfort with being used on the left at Stuttgart.
"Philipp Lahm is a similar player to me and he plays well at left-back for Bayern," the youngster said. "I look to him as an example for myself."
Finally, Okazaki spoke of his surprise at the abilities of manager Bruno Labbadia.
""Sometimes he goes jogging before or after a workout at a high speed, and sometimes he joins in with our exercises in the weight room," the former Shimizu S-Pulse man gushed. "I've never seen that in a coach before.
"He is fit enough to play. He does what he requires of us."