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Japan in Arabia: Discovering the irresistible charm of Japanese culture in the Middle East

'Japan in Arabia' is founded by fourth generation Japanese Canadian teacher Jason Ishida (M). (Supplied)
'Japan in Arabia' is founded by fourth generation Japanese Canadian teacher Jason Ishida (M). (Supplied)
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07 Apr 2024 06:04:56 GMT9
07 Apr 2024 06:04:56 GMT9

Amin Abbas

DUBAI: Japan in Arabia is a UAE-based community that helps locals and residents explore Japanese culture in the Middle East. 

Raised as a fourth generation Japanese-Canadian, Jason Ishida, founder of ‘Japan in Arabia,’ told Arab News Japan that he started connecting with his Japanese heritage when he traveled to Japan in high school. “I had trouble with basic greetings in Japanese and felt a burning desire to learn more,” he said. “After graduating from university, I moved to Fukushima to teach English and to learn about the Japanese language and culture. My level of respect and fascination with Japan has continued to grow, and it is my mission to share Japanese culture with the world.”

“The nature was truly stunning and everyone there was so welcoming. I think living in a smaller city allowed me to make more meaningful and lasting relationships. I fostered a more authentic and real cultural experience. When I relocated to the UAE, I wanted to get back in touch with Japanese culture again but it was difficult to find the type of authentic Japanese opportunities I was craving. So, after advice and support from a friend, Japan in Arabia was born,” he added. 

Ishida moved to Ras Al Khaimah in 2016 to work as a teacher. Since then, he has moved to Dubai. “I love it here. The UAE (has) many similarities to Japan,” he told Arab News Japan. “Much like in Japan, once you earn the trust of local Emirati people, they treat you like family.”

The founder shared that he is very inspired by Japanese culture and tries to integrate it into his daily life. “Something from Japanese culture that really shifted my entire philosophy on life is the level of care and consideration for others. Tons of people sleep on the trains and it’s extremely quiet out of respect for others. Even in the face of a natural disaster, the generosity and integrity of the Japanese people are something I admire and try to emulate in my own life,” he shared.

The association has received positive reviews from its members so far. “I think many people are interested in Japanese culture but may not know where to start. We do our best to listen to feedback and offer a range of cultural opportunities that cater to our diverse audience,” Ishida said. 

About distinguishing ‘Japan in Arabia’ from other cultural associations in the UAE, Ishida said it’s the community’s aim to connect with authentic Japanese experiences through learning the language or diving deeper into art. “We give our community access to the real Japan,” he said. 

“As a Japanese-Canadian who has lived in Japan for many years and works in the field of education, I’m in a unique position to help curate and structure these authentic experiences to be more meaningful and engaging,” he added.

The association regularly hosts events and workshops as well as free weekly Japanese language exchange meetups. Their upcoming events can be found on their Instagram

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