Risa Matsumaro told 24.kg news agency what attracted her to Kyrgyzstan and why she had no cultural shock.
— What were your impressions when you first arrived in Bishkek?
— I came from the state of Georgia. My grandparents are Japanese, but I was born in America. There are mountains, but they are not as high and majestic as yours. I was a little excited, because the culture, customs, national dishes of America, Japan and Kyrgyzstan are different. I realized that I have a lot to learn.
— It is very hot and very humid in Georgia. When I arrived in Bishkek, I was a little shocked: you have a lot of cars and public transport. I liked that there was everything necessary for life — pharmacies, shops, supermarkets, taxis, bars and parks.
The American Risa Matsumaro learned the Kyrgyz language 6-8 hours a day. Now she teaches English at one of the schools in Naryn region.
I began to learn the language two months before arrival. It was important for me to learn Kyrgyz, because the family where I live speaks it only. Knowledge of the language helps in moments when you need to travel somewhere — it’s easier to communicate.
When I speak Kyrgyz, I feel safe. Many people are surprised at this, because I’m a Japanese who came from America.
The Kyrgyz language helps me develop relationship.Risa Matsumaro
I am fluent in English, Japanese, Swahili, and also in Kyrgyz. I think that thanks to the language, I began to understand and accept the Kyrgyz culture even more.
— Do you have a favorite place in Bishkek?
— Yes, I have. I like to go to a coffee shop. I also like to go jogging at the city stadium.
— Have you already got acquainted with the Kyrgyz culture — komuz, shyrdaks, national clothes?
— Of course, I tried to learn playing komuz, but it turned out to be difficult. I like Zhalynbiy and Kara-Jorgo dances, proverbs and sayings in the Kyrgyz language. I especially remembered one: «The value of homeland is recognized abroad.» I love horses very much, my Kyrgyz dad tells a lot how to care for them, saddle them and find them on a pasture. As for the national sports, I like kok-boru.
Risa Matsumaro liked kok-boru game so much that she even learned to play it.
— I saw Sary-Chelek lake, I have been to Cholpon-Ata, Osh city, Kazarman district of Jalal-Abad region. I visited Son-Kul, and now I live in Naryn. I plan to go to Talas.
I attended a tribes’ friendship forum. More than 70 yurts were set up there. There I learned about the history of the tribes and their significance for the Kyrgyz.
— When I first arrived in the village, a policeman came to the school where I teach English to look at my passport. He asked to bring the American Risa to him. When I introduced myself, he did not believe. It turned out that I look like a Kyrgyz.
I like everything. In my opinion, the Kyrgyz are hardworking, friendly and very beautiful people. For example, children in Kyrgyzstan are versatile — they aspire after knowledge and graze cattle from an early age, cook food.
Each dish of Kyrgyz cuisine is very tasty — from salads to shorpo.Risa Matsumaro
I was not shocked, but it was surprising that the culture and history of your country is so rich. I am grateful to the family that received me, because it was they who introduced me to the local charm.