Interviewed by Chinatsu Suzuki
Written by Isao Tokuhashi
Mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dilnath Sapkota (Nepal)
Indian restaurant manager (He’s been in Japan since 2008)
This is the first interview with a guy from Nepal, a landlocked country which is surrounded by two big powers, China and India.
Dilnath Sapkota is a chef at an Indian restaurant in Chiba, east of the Tokyo Megalopolis. He is running a shop with his younger brother.
Sapkota has been in Japan for only a year and he is still struggling with the Japanese language. But his smile soothes his customers. His smile leaps over any language barrier.
If you can’t finish eating a big naan, he wraps it up for you. When you come to this restaurant with little kids, he cuddles them very mirthfully. He is such a sweet person.
*A story of his restaurant… Click here and read.
Family members go abroad.
When I came here in December 2008, my younger brother had already been in Japan. He came here before this restaurant opened.
When I was 25, I decided to leave Nepal to go to another country. I went to India and stayed there for a year. Then I went to London and I was there for three years.
After that, I moved to Ireland. I was in Dublin, the capital of Ireland for two and a half years. Then I went back to my country. But I stayed home for only seven months. Then I came to Japan.
The 3rd oldest brother is living in London and 5th oldest brother is in Holland. The 2nd oldest brother, 4th oldest brother, my sister, my relative – he is my sister’s husband – and I are living in Japan.
Flee the chaos.
I was a student in Nepal before going abroad. I majored in law at university in Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal because I wanted to be a lawyer. But I couldn’t get a B.A. because of my family’s financial problem. Business at my father’s job slowed down and my family had less income. So I had no choice but leaving university without a diploma. I left university when I was 24.
I couldn’t get any job in my country because its economic situation was terrible. At that time, there was a civil war in Nepal between the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) and government forces.
So I got out of Nepal to obtain a job opportunity even though I already had a wife and a son. My wife took care of our son with my parents.
Days in Europe.
Before I went to London, I took cooking classes in Nepal. Cooking is my hobby. I helped my mother by cooking when I was a child.
I went to India after finishing a class. I stayed in Delhi for a year and worked at an Indian restaurant. After that, I flew to London. I worked at my friend’s Indian restaurant as a cook. But the salary was not enough to live on.
He was also running an Indian restaurant in Ireland so I moved there. There are many small ethnic groups in Dublin and a Nepali community is there, too. Of course, I sent money to my family while I was in Europe. But the economical situation of Ireland was worse than that in other European countries.
Missing home, leaving home.
After my two-and-a-half year stay in Ireland, I really missed my home suddenly. So I went back to Nepal and I didn’t want to go anywhere. I wanted to stay there with my family.
But Nepal was still in chaos. Maoists and the king of Nepal came to a settlement but another problem arose. There was a big conflict among Nepali political factions.
My friends and even my brothers and sisters got out of there and came to Japan so I decided to come here. Japan is peaceful and there are more job opportunities than in Nepal even though it is in a recession.
Long journey ends.
I made a phone call to my sister’s husband in Tokyo. He said that he had a vacant position at a restaurant in Chiba. This restaurant had already opened and my younger brother was managing here. So I decided to come to Japan.
When I was a boy, I read a book which was written about Japan. It said that Japan is very developed and it’s the sun-rising country. Also it said that Japan is peaceful. So I really wanted to come here.
After arriving at Narita Airport, my friend picked me up and he took me all the way down to Nagoya, about 230 miles (370km) away from Tokyo. I was there for two weeks because my boss’s company is in Nagoya and it sponsors me in Japan. I applied for my alien registration card there. Then I came to Chiba.
Working hard to stay living in a good country.
Actually I felt it was better than I expected when I came here. People are very polite, sensible and kind. Also they were hard-working. If possible, I want to stay in Japan for a long time. Japan is a very good country.
But everything is expensive! My wife is working at an economy hotel in Tokyo from 9:30AM until 4PM six days a week. She is ungenerously compensated there. In order to pay for living expenses, my wife is looking for a second job.
My brother and I have to keep running this restaurant to survive here. But besides the financial problem, everything is all right.
We enjoyed talking over cups of spiced tea which his wife prepared.
What is Japan to you?
Now I feel like Japan is my country.
I’ve been here for only a year but it doesn’t matter. I’ve received good things from Japan so far. Food, money and a comfortable accommodation. I don’t feel any difference between Japan and Nepal now.
So I can say that Japan is my country.
*A story of his restaurant “Delhi Durbaar”… Click here and read.