People from about 70 different countries live together in my city of Hadano, Kanagawa Prefecture.
When the Hadano International Association held an international exchange festival, we enjoyed a Japanese speech contest and a fellowship gathering (a buffet-style dinner party, a tea ceremony, calligraphy and a corner where people could try on kimono).
I participated in the event and had a nice time, communicating with our friends from different countries. I was amazed to find that most of the guests could speak fluent Japanese. And I was so happy to hear their words: “We love life here.”
It has long been said that Japanese is a very difficult language to master, and that adapting to Japan’s unique culture is also difficult. However, these guests’ fluency of language and love for Japanese culture and life show that it can be done.
And they told me that when they return to their own countries they would like to introduce their Japanese experiences to their people. They are ambassadors and firm bridges between Japan and their countries.
Some of them said it is their dream to return to Japan in the future and live here.
Japan’s citizens, as their friends and neighbors, should of course be expected to continue giving them a helping hand.
At the same time, however, our citizens should learn different languages and cultures from them, because this is so essential for international understanding and friendship, which will eventually contribute to forming a multicultural coexisting world.
The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.