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The Indian Community in Japan: A perspective

Combine all these with the impeccable attention to detail in every sphere and it is not tough to see why so many Indians proudly call Japan their home.

By 3 min read 3

A witty friend once told me in jest, “I am yet to find a country where there are no Indians or Chinese residents.” India is a country that’s struggling to balance the population explosion with the available space at hand. Hence, it was no surprise that, on the first day I entered my company here in Japan, I could find my countrymen in every corner of the office.

From those who have spent over 35 years in Tokyo to complete newcomers, the financial gain is still a major driving factor for most Indians to move to Japan. However, with the sharply depreciating yen, it may not continue to prove to be as attractive as in the past.

Having talked to a number of my compatriots, we all agree that moving to Japan takes some getting used to.

Food

It’s no secret that Indians prefer spicier food and getting used to the relatively bland taste of Japanese cuisine isn’t easy at first. However, Japanese food is far more nutritious and soothing to the stomach compared to the eclectic Indian spices.

The majority of Indians, being Hindus, refrain from consuming beef whereas traditional Indian Muslims neither go for pork nor alcohol. Since I conform to none of these, my Japanese colleagues are left perplexed at my unorthodox behavior. “I keep it simple” is my usual explanation.

Office

My Indian colleagues appreciate the flatness of the Japanese office hierarchy. The senior employees do not shut themselves out by working behind closed doors, quite unlike traditional Indian companies. Everyone is readily approachable and extremely willing to lend a helping hand.

“I think more like a Japanese than an Indian”, jokes a senior who has been working in Japan for over thirty years now. He loves the discipline here, he says. Yet there are some who feel that they are under-utilized due to the ‘systematically slow’ work ethic.

Festivals

The Indian Embassy celebrates all the traditional festivals with much enthusiasm and that pulls in large numbers. Be it the most revered festival of lights ‘Diwali’ or the crazy festival of colors ‘Holi’, it’s all happening right here in Tokyo! Many of my Japanese colleagues have participated in them and immensely enjoyed the cultural concoction. Indians too embrace the matsuri’s – Sumida Fireworks Festival to cite one.

Language

Most Indians agree that communicating in Japanese is a major barrier. Especially at sensitive places like a doctor’s clinic, ward office or shopping stores, often the task remains half done and this is indeed a reality as we move further away from Tokyo. Some feel that the language is too difficult to learn and refrain altogether. “Learning the language is the key here”, advises an Indian who’s on the board of directors at my Japanese company.

Hospitality

The Japanese hospitality – ‘Omotenashi’ at most public places and the inherently helpful nature of the Japanese is another binding factor. I had once told my boss, “They would not treat me so well even back home”, much to his amusement. My advisor is extremely patient with me and always has an ear for my troubles. It’s almost unreal. Combine all these with the impeccable attention to detail in every sphere and it is not tough to see why so many Indians proudly call Japan their home.

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  • VB says:

    A well compiled blog..
    I heard Tokyo is a pretty expensive city. Do you also have details of the typical financial expenses one incurs as that might be of great help to people who plan to relocate?

  • Jesse says:

    Oh please oh please would someone provide a list of Indian restaurants in the greater Tokyo area that server properly cooked and spiced Indian food? This is without a doubt one of the saddest things about living here…the lack of Indian food that tastes right. And the lack of bread options. Naan is usually the only option and it’s sweet!? Finding a place with paratha or roti is like finding gold! So far the best Indian I’ve had was near Yokota Air Base in Fussa (Yuri http://tabelog.com/tokyo/A1329/A132902/13149952/). Tiny, with only two cooks and no waiters. Probably a converted ramen shop. It was incredible…but too far from us to get to regularly. In Yokosuka we have like 10 Indian restaurants, mostly run by Nepalese. None of them are very good.

    • alka arora says:

      There are few who serve good Indian food.
      try Ghungroo at Omotesando For North Indian food.Incidentally you can ask them to serve tandoori roti or tandoori parantha or bhatura also.
      Few other names are Ahilya …Khyber..Gurgaon….
      For south Indian cuisine I. E Dosa and Uttam you should try DHABA or Dakshin near Tokyo station

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