Japan Visit Program:
My Japan cultural experience started from the Esenboga Airport in Ankara at the check-in encounter. When I arrived to the airport three and a half hours before my flight I saw a long line of Japanese tourist doing their check-in. I was surprised how they arrived so early. I decided not wait but instead have a lunch and come back. When I came back after the lunch the queue was gone. I did my check-in and went to the departure gate. There again Japanese tourist were quick and well-coordinated when taking seats in the plane. Our plane departed 15 minutes before our expected time. Usually, I fly a lot, but I have never experienced when the plane departed earlier than planned time. This experience made me realize how Japanese were well-coordinated and time efficient. I wish all my flight experiences were similar to this. I couldn’t wait to see Japan!
Leyla-san and I arrived to Narita Airport together. Narita Airport was well planned and it was easy to find where to go.
Even though Narita Airport is big, airport staffs try to empty the baggage’s reclaim area very quickly. Within a minute the area is emptied for the next arrivals. On the way out we had to stay in a long queue to exchange Dollars to Yen. Another queue was at the Limousine bus station to Tokyo, but it was well-organized queue.
I got a cultural shock when I arrived to the hotel. The hotel rooms were so small that you could reach a bathroom and a TV in the room at the same time from your bed. I knew that the rooms in Tokyo were small but I didn’t expect the hotel rooms to be that small. I couldn’t find a proper place in the room to put my luggage, so I had to move it around every time I opened the bathroom door or a room’s door. Even iron and the ironing table are very small. This miniature room looked funny but was very comfortable.
Nippon Foundation Building:
When we had a tour around the Paralympics Support Center floor I was so proud to be a part of Nippon Foundation. The change that they are making in the disabled peoples life with the Center is extraordinary and exceptional. They are not only giving a hope but also making some of the dreams come true. I would like to express my respect to all those people and organizations who are contributing to the Center.
We were also privileged to meet with Chairman Sasakawa at The Nippon Foundation Building. We were supported by scholarship when we were struggling in Turkey, and now after graduation, he gave us such a wonderful experience. Since I always wanted to meet with him, and say a word of gratitude, I appreciate this opportunity.
What I learnt from Japan:
- Tokyo. Tokyo is really crowded. The first thing that I have noticed when I arrived to Tokyo was that they have a few levels of road above the ground and a few more underground. You can see buildings all over the city. Even though it is very crowded city, the Japanese managed to keep city nice and clean. It was so clean everywhere that you forget the dirt and dust exists. All the cars are very clean and tidy. Even garbage trucks were clean!
The weather was great. It wasn’t so hot or cold. It was raining almost every day and since I like rain I had no complaints. I believe the end of June was the right time to travel to Japan.
- Hiroshima. On the first day of our trip we went to Hiroshima. It was nice to go out of Tokyo and see other cities. Cities like Hiroshima which was influenced by the WW2. Now you won’t see any buildings that are left from that history except the Genbaku Dome. The Genbaku Dome is the only building that is left untouched from that horrible time of the history. From Hiroshima we took a boat to Miyajima. It was well preserved Island where we saw more traditional houses, Shrine and temples. We also saw deer on the street asking for a food from visitors. Miyajima Island is one of the examples how people and the nature can coexist in peace.
- Visiting companies. It was nice to visit greatest Japanese companies like Marubeni corporations, Fuji Television, Yomiuri Newspaper. In my opinion except Marubeni Corporation other companies were more useful to us because we had a chance to see inside the Yomiuri Newspaper and to talk to Dr. Yamauchi at Fuji Television. Dr. Yamauchi knew more about our countries than all of us together.
- The Tokyo Subway. Using a metro line in Tokyo is a different experience. Purchasing tickets from a machine with coins, trying to figure out the best way to destinations, because the rates for how much stations you take a metro is different. Unwillingly, you soak all the small details and learn to wait in line, stay on the left at escalators, turn phones on silent mode, speak quietly in metros, respect others and etc.
Seeing how everyone follows the rules and respect each other when getting into the metro is impressive. There is a huge difference when you compare a metro in Istanbul and metro in Tokyo. This alone tells a lot about the culture.
- Restaurants. We went to many different types of restaurants. Many of them were different from the once that we used to see every day in our countries. Members’ club restaurants would only welcome members. We were lucky because Mori-san have a membership in a few restaurants. It would be nice to have those types of restaurants in our countries, because the service and the food there is amazing.
- Technology. I noticed that Japan uses old styled but very high-technologies everywhere. They used high-techs starting from closets till lighting for people’s comfort. Everywhere you go you see a technology that makes life easier and time efficient. However, people are afraid that machines will steal jobs and harm them, in Japan the machines are only taking the hard, time consuming jobs so that people could live comfortable and spend more time for them. From Boat racing example we can see that same machine can issue a ticket, get the money, take the ticket and even give a person’s win. This machine is time, cost and energy saving. I haven’t seen any queues or arguments with machine. This shows how Japanese are ready to invest a lot of money in the technology infrastructure to make citizens life better.
- People. Japan people have strong culture. Loyalty, respect and honesty mean something for them. People don’t disturb each other at all. People keep their phones silent and behave well everywhere. Nobody is talking loud and eating food in the metro. Japanese respect each other, very polite and punctual. They are always on time for the meetings. They even consider every minute when they plan meetings. Our trips schedule was planned well and even every minute was in count. We always tried to come 10-15 minutes earlier to the meeting to show our respect.
Japanese employees rarely change the companies that they are working at. They are very loyal to companies. People work hard that they even prefer to work on their holidays.
Japanese people eat healthy. About a few hours into our trip to Japan, the biggest things I noticed were the people. Well, actually not the biggest, because they’re not big. Almost nobody in Japan is overweight in the slightest.
As we continued through our journey, this fact kept becoming more and more noticeable. Of course, I’d always heard that people were healthier in Japan, but you really don’t appreciate that fact until you actually see it. Everyone is healthy! Everyone is very polite! I wonder how they achieved and how we can achieve it in our countries.
- Tsukuba University and the Forum. Mr. James-san and Kyoko-san organized a wonderful trip to Tsukuba University and the Forum at Nippon Foundation. Meeting Japanese, Central Asian students and professors at the university and exchanging success stories helped me to build a confidence that we are going in a right direction.
Giving a presentation in front of the audience whom you don’t know was challenging, but overcoming the fear increased self-confidence and improved my presentation skills. I feel like improving presentation skills and giving a speech in front of an audience should be one of the aims of the JACAFA, because members will learn how to present and interact with the audience which will help them to improve self-confidence. I hope in the future we will have many sessions on it, because many of us lack those skills.
The topic of the forum was “Human Capita Development”. Human capital is more important than having natural resources in the long term. Japan is the great example of it. The Japanese government gives importance to Human capital development and that is one of the main reasons why they are so developed. People in our countries should start to think long-term rather than short-term benefits.
I was surprised that students at Tsukuba University were interested in learning Russian and some even spoke Russian already. It shows that they are interested in Russia, Central Asia and want to be comprehensively developed. This interest in both sides would help to overcome the language and distance barrier.
- Overall. It was
wonderfulexperience and I was very lucky to be chosen for the trip. Japan is like a different planet when you compare to other countries. I travel a lot and I have a chance to compare countries. I have never seen a similar country to Japan. I believe everyone in their lifetime should travel to Japan and see this amazing culture. This trip helped me to realize how people can leave in a harmony with the natureand defeat the challenges together.
First of all, special thanks to Chairman Sasakawa, who made us possible to experience this trip. Thanks to Kyoko-san for organizing such an amazing trip to Japan, James-san for all his efforts to bring us together at Tsukuba University and to have a productive Forum, Mori-san for inviting us to such unique restaurants and bringing amazing friends and Nippon Foundation for making it all happen. It was unforgettable trip and everything was well organized. I hope we will have a chance to host you all in Kyrgyz Republic next year.