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Hiroshi Anraku about similarities and differences between Kyrgyzstan and Japan

Thirty-year-old Hiroshi Anraku arrived in Kyrgyzstan about a year ago. He is a volunteer of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and works as an English teacher in one of Bishkek schools. He told 24.kg news agency about his impressions.

— Did you know anything about Kyrgyzstan before coming here?

— Yes, I did. I had the experience of living in Uzbekistan, so I was familiar with the culture of nomads, I knew about yurts, for example.

— Did the information you learned about the country match the reality? Or did something not meet your expectations?

— There was more culture than I imagined, and there are a lot of similar points between Japanese culture and Kyrgyz one, for example music instruments (komuz, shamisen, and sanshin), foods (lagman, udon and ramen), and culture about alcohol (certain seating of elderly and young people at the table).

— How did you adapt to a new working and living environment, new country?

— It was easy for me to adapt to the Kyrgyz culture, because there are many similarities with Japan and people in Kyrgyzstan. Besides, this is not my first time living abroad. I have experience living in Southeast Asia and Africa. Therefore, I am somewhat accustomed to living abroad. However, I was shocked when I found the dirty air in winter.

It is not hard for me to live in Bishkek except for the winter air.

Hiroshi Anraku

Although I have enjoyed the daily life in Kyrgyzstan, I have noticed and realized the difficulties in working. I felt that huge differences between Japanese school and Kyrgyz one, especially in terms of sense and quality of planning or scheduling.

Japanese schools have annual plans prepared by managers. Based on this information, teachers can make plans for each semester, month, and day of the week. Because teachers plan ahead, they can collaborate with other teachers to hold sports festivals, school trips, etc.

Teachers in Kyrgyzstan are able to work even without a plan. It’s very flexible. I feel that this is a great thing for Kyrgyz people. On the other hand, I feel that if you have the habit of planning, you can pull off even bigger events.

Many Kyrgyz people associate Japan with images of cars, science and technology. While these are certainly true, it is impossible for one person to create big events, solve difficult tasks, and create complex machines. Furthermore, in order to create something like this, planning is also essential.

Of course I don’t think that it’s a good idea to plan everything. In Japan, teachers’ long working hours and enormous workloads have become social issues. Some Japanese people are suffering from health problems due to Japan’s long working hours and the habit of working to meet quotas.

Life in Kyrgyzstan has broadened my horizons. Schools in Kyrgyzstan sometimes cancel or start classes suddenly. I was once surprised at how simple the lesson plan I received from my school was. However, I would like to continue my efforts to understand the Kyrgyz people’s way of thinking and values a little more, without making judgments about what is good or bad.

To be clear, I do not think that Japanese education is better than education in Kyrgyzstan. Japanese education also has its advantages. However, at the same time, there are many points and issues that need improvement. Similarly, I think there are good and bad points about education in Kyrgyzstan.

The educational level in Kyrgyzstan is high. I think people are also kind and strong. However, I think that the sense of time and planning are different between Japan and Kyrgyzstan.

Besides, I was very shocked when I found the bribes in Kyrgyzstan’s schools. In Japan, bribery is punishable and almost non-existent.

Hiroshi Anraku

When bribes become widespread, students from low-income families are at a disadvantage. In other words, it will be a disadvantage for Kyrgyzstan.

However, as I have said many times before, I personally think that there are many things that Japanese schools need to improve. Currently, in Japan, the direct link between academic ability and income is seen as a problem.

Alumni reunions are often held in Kyrgyzstan. It’s good to have many opportunities to meet friends from school even as you get older. I think it’s a very good.

Finally, even though the countries are different, teachers in both Kyrgyzstan and Japan care about their students. I also believe that there are many teachers in Kyrgyzstan who have the same passion for education as in Japan.

— What does working with children give you?

— I learn a lot from children. I believe that all students have great sensitivity and talent. I believe that the fundamental purpose of education is to bring out the talents and sensibilities of each student.

— Do you learn Kyrgyz?

— Yes, I do. It is difficult for me to learn it because of few study materials. I respect Kyrgyzstanis who can speak several languages.

— What language do you use to communicate with the local population?

— Kyrgyz and English. Local people are good. We often talk at a gym when I train.

— If I’m not mistaken, you play komuz. Was it difficult for you to learn it?

— Yes. It is difficult for me. And I cannot play it well. I’m so happy to play the komuz because it has a long history.

— What regions of Kyrgyzstan did you manage to visit during this time?

— Naryn, Sary-Chelek, Karakol, Altyn-Arashan, Ala-Kul.

All of them have very beautiful scenery. Especially the mountains are amazing. Here I can see the scenery that I can never see in Japan. Since I started living in Bishkek, I often looked towards the south. The highest mountain in Japan is Mount Fuji (3,776m).

I am impressed, because I can see mountains higher than that! It’s really beautiful! Kyrgyz people should understand more about the value of Kyrgyzstan’s beautiful mountains! Kyrgyzstan is a truly beautiful country, and to protect beautiful Kyrgyzstan, please clean the winter air!

— What do you think about national cuisine? Do you have any favorite national dishes?

— There are many similarities with Japanese food culture, which is interesting. And it’s delicious. I especially like kuurdak.