“Irasyaimase, douzo , nan mei sama desuka (いらっしゃいませ、どうぞ、何名様ですか),” asks Hari from the kitchen of the Nepali and Indian restaurant “Rita.” Indian music is playing in the background, Posters of Hindu religion hang like curtains and a smiling Nepalese woman appears.
The restaurant’s name, “RITA,” is the name of that waitress. She is also the owners’ younger sister. Hari Gaire has been running this restaurant with his family since 2009. He first came to Kochi in 2007 as a cook then went to Fukuoka for two years to work in a different restaurant. It was there he begins to dream of his own shop.
“With the help of a Japanese person, I started my business in Kochi,” he said, “Because Kochi is not big city and it was easy to start my restaurant. In big city like Osaka, Tokyo, already many restaurant were opened by other, so I choose Kochi. And I had made my planning strongly and I believe in hard working.”
According to NepalJapan.com, nearly sixty thousand people are living in Japan, which is second largest Asian Nepalese community in Japan. About half of them are working in Nepali cuisine restaurant. Seven Nepalese restaurant are around Kochi city, “RARA,” the oldest one, is owned by Nepalese who married Japanese woman. At that time, few Nepalese people were living in Japan as cooks or running small shops, personal business. Nowadays lot of students come to study and do research but more than 50% of Nepalese work in Nepali-Indian restaurant.
“Yeah, it’s is not a company and it’s a personal business”. He added, “Well, I’m satisfied because, I have already two other branches, in Nakama Kochi five years ago, and Shimanto city, one years ago, and I can start new one too.”
It’s not easy to work in foreign countries like Japan, because their system, culture, lifestyle, language, way of thinking is different, but Nepalese people work hard. Most of successful Nepalese say, “Japan is a good destination country for Nepalese if they follow the rules and regulation.” Every foreigner has to challenge new thing and sometimes has big problems.
“No, not yet, I don’t have any trouble because I can speak Japanese pretty well.” He explained, “I do myself everything like VISA renewal and new entry in Japan because I don’t have my personal lawyer. But when I have to write something, I use English language in all the documents, not in Japanese.”
“I have registered in national health insurance in 2011 because I didn’t knew that, everybody need to do that, so I have to pay big amount of money with interest, more than one million yen. Some system are different and Japanese officers thinks same system may have in Nepal as well. For example, not in my case but with other some Nepalese people who live with their family in Japan have problems, in child raising welfare systems.” He mentioned again.
In 2008 and 2009, many Nepalese came to Japan as cook. After that, Nepalese have been increasing as language learners. According to data of Kochi city office in 2014, 29 Nepalese people were living in Kochi prefecture. The Center for International collaboration of Kochi University states that, in 2014 there were only 3 students from Nepal but now, 8 students from Nepal.
Mr. Gaire added, “There were only one person from Nepal when I came to Kochi but now only in my group we are 15 people from Nepal. We all get together in our Nepalese festival and celebrate as family.”
One third of Nepalese people living in Tokyo, thousands of people are living Fukuoka, Osaka, Tochigi, Aichi, Saitama and Kanagawa. They want to move to big city because they could get better job there.
“They live here for 2/3 years and leave for big towns like Osaka, Tokyo.” Mr. Gaire said again. “Because when they bring their family, can’t get any part time job here.”
It is not easy to raise kids in a foreign country even they have good job. Most people worry about their children’s English education because Japanese education system is really different from Nepal. In Nepal, the children have to learn English from the beginning of school, and they do not want study in Japanese language, because Japanese language is not as important as English. Nepal’s economy depends on mainly in remittance by the migrant workers, so they live in Japan for money but their children want to learn Nepalese culture and take Nepalese Education. Nepalese people who live in Australia, USA, UK, raise and educate their children there because their English language can be used in future across the world. But Japanese language only used in Japan.
“Our four children, my two daughters and my older brother’s two sons and a daughter of my sister were sent to Nepal.” Mr. Gaire’s brother said, “We can’t take care of them and we can’t educate them like in Nepal, because we don’t think Japanese Education is good for Nepalese people.”
Every year, thousands of students came to Japan for their higher study but about 70% of them stop their study. One of the major problem is Japanese Language because Japanese language has three different writing systems Hiragana, Katakana and Kanji. Among them Kanji reading and writing are the hardest part for Nepalese students. Secondly, life in Japan is ten times more expensive than life in Nepal for everything. Family cannot support for their further study in Japan because they already invest huge amount to come to Japan in the first. So they prefer to come as migrant workers.
Arigatou gozaimasu (有難うございます) the woman doing last greeting to customers when they leave from shop.