|The interview with the Ambassador of Japan in Latvia Mr. Takashi Osana|
Regardless the huge distance between Japan and the Baltic States, we have many similarities and differences at a time. This cooperation has just started to blossom by exchanging tourists, guests and welcoming their traditions. The Ambassador of Japan in Latvia Mr. Takashi Osanai shares his opinion about the partnership these so much different destinations.
Please tell us what makes your country different and unique.
I can start in such a way. When you think of Japan, some ideas come to your mind. Sony, Toyota, Cannon, technologies, some cultural events, Tea ceremony, nature… That is current Japan, the second largest country in terms of biggest exporting countries. Excellent technologies are being produced in Japan annually. Natural resources are not as rich as technologies, but Japan is really advanced in energy efficiency. In addition to that, in such most modern countries the tradition, culture still remains. For the last 1500 years Japan has always integrated in various civilizations – China, Portugal, Spain, Netherlands, and the United States of America. And at the same time Japan was importing many things from traditional life style. Japan has been trying to adjust modern civilization to modern Japan style. In local areas you can find most advanced civilizations, at the same time most typical civilizations. This is our uniqueness.
Does your country have something in common with the Baltic States?
In terms of nature and human characters in Japan we have very clear four seasons – winter, spring, summer and autumn. That is why we have very sensitive feelings. Spring – very beautiful cherries’ blossoming; summer – incredible sea, because Japan is surrounded by seas; autumn – very beautiful nature, reddish-yellowish leaves; winter – deep white snow.
There are very strict changes in nature during the year, and Japanese people are very sensitive to the changes of nature.
Japanese people can give their feelings to nature: stones, garden, animals… We feel that everything has its own life.
There are some similarities between Japanese and Latvian people. Latvian people, as you may notice, are quite open in their direct feelings. And the feelings for nature should be expressed directly. Howbeit, many Japanese people are quite shy and not so open for hospitality. Japanese people are kind enough to welcome, but they continue to be shy at the same time. I think that people in the Baltic States are quite open for communication. They say “Hello, my friend!”, and this the main difference.
What are your wishes for the TAS Baltics 20th anniversary?
Tourism has always played a very important role. Exchange of people, to develop the relationships between the countries – is the main aim of tourism. Tourism, especially among the distanced countries, is very recommendable. When people are meeting, the whole situation in economy, science, education is getting better and better. At first, people have to meet, and then everything will be perfect! TAS Baltics company has made a great contribution to promote Japan in the Baltic States. My congratulations on the TAS Baltics 20th anniversary! I wish further prosperity!
Take a closer look at JapanWhether you end up taking photos of a neon-lit skyline, surfing an indoor wave, musing in a Zen temple, shacking up in a love hotel or kipping down a traditional inn, you’ll do best to come to Japan with an open mind and be prepared to be surprised. Somewhere between the elegant formality of Japanese manners and the candid, sometimes boisterous exchanges that take place over a few drinks, between the sanitized shopping malls and the unexpected rural festivals, everyone finds their own vision of Japan.
BEST TIME TO VISIT
March and April, or before 1853, when Japan started opening up to foreigners
Taking a relaxing dip in an onsen (hot bath) at Beppu
Admiring the cherry blossoms in Tokyo’s Ueno Park in March
Drinking in the view of Tokyo from the top of Mt Fuji
Pretending you’re a Samurai warlord at Himeji-jo castle
Having a zen experience at Kinkakuji temple, Kyoto
Finding out why war sucks at the Hiroshima and Nagasaki war museums
Riding on a slide made entirely of ice at the Sappro Snow Festival
GETTING UNDER THE SKIN
Read Inside Japan by Peter Tasker, a fascinating foray into Japanese culture, society and the economy. Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto is a hauntingly beautiful story set in contemporary Tokyo that shows a side of Japan not often seen.
Listen to “Sukiyaki” by Kyu Sakamoto, a 1960s hit and classic Japanese tune, reminiscent of 1950s lounge music; or anything by Morning Musume, an all girl J-pop group of 13(!) members, where singing talent is optional.
Watch Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai, a classic 1954 film set in 17th century rural Japan, or get taste for Japan with Tampop, a witty and insightful film set in a ramen (noodle) shop.
Eat ramen noodles, Japan’s fast food specialty- though you haven’t “done” Japan till you’ve experienced fresh raw fish.
Drink sake, Japan’s signature drink, commonly known as rice wine and served hot or cold.
IN A WORD
Sugoi (used for surprise, wonder or horror and everything in between)
Raw fish, Samurai swords, hard working salary men, bowing, electronic gadgets, geisha girls, Mt Fuji, karaoke.
It’s polite to slurp loudly when eating soup or noodles, shoes must be removed before entering any home, most home kitchens don’t have ovens, Japan has over 1500 earthquakes a year.
The synthesis of the modern and traditional is one of the things that makes travel in Japan such a fascinating experience. It also ensures that no matter what your taste, you’ll find a side of Japan that suits your interests.
/Lonely Planet’s Japan/
|TAS Baltics Travel Management Company, 21-2 Raina Boulevard, Riga LV-1050, Latvia. Tel.: +371 67814040, Fax: +371 67820285, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org|