Shiroishi Yoko (Japan): “Societies, cities, and countries are all created by people. I believe that Nanjing’s open-minded atmosphere is definitely a result of the warmth of its people. They are always generous and eager to help others. I have more than a year left in my studies here, and in this remaining time I wish to communicate better with Nanjing people and express my thankfulness to them”.
Shiroishi Yoko (Japan, Nanjing Normal University, Chinese Language and Literature)
I came to China in 2012. At the time, the relationship between China and Japan was rather strained. Although my husband, who arrived first, told me that Nanjing was in a peaceful state, I was still a bit worried when I came. I remember it was the National Day holiday when I arrived, and the entire city was in a celebratory mood; it seemed that everyone was enjoying their early autumn vacation. The autumn air was crisp and the chrysanthemums were in bloom. When l saw the joyous people and smelled the flowers’ aroma, my nervousness immediately melted away.
Then my new life began. To integrate into Nanjing society, I registered to learn Chinese at Nanjing Normal University and actively used Chinese with the locals when I went out, whether to restaurants, the supermarket, or the gymnasium. As I was just a beginner, I was quite poor at the language. When people heard me talk, they were surprised and said that they could not understand me, but they would always patiently listen to me till I finished what I wanted to say. There was a cashier at the supermarket who always tried to listen to me and help me. Once I was in line to pay when a man behind me rushed up and asked whether he could pay first. The cashier immediately said to him, “This customer was first. You’ll have to wait in line.” When I heard her words. I felt grateful. She said. “You don’t need to thank me; it was a matter of course.” Even today I have not forgotten her bashful smile.
The wife of the owner of the tangbao restaurant across from our house was also a kind person. A tangbao, which literally means ‘soup wrap’, can be described as a steamed bun stuffed with broth. The duck blood and vermicelli soup there is my favorite Nanjing delicacy. When I went there, she would always welcome me with a smile. I sometimes asked her how to make a tangbao, and she sometimes asked me how to make Japanese dishes. She had a strong Nanjing accent, and it was difficult for me to understand at rimes. bur I really enjoyed having conversations with her. I have also met a few more locals. and all of them are friendly to me. a Japanese.
China and Japan have had an unhappy history, and Nanjing experienced especially tragic events during the war, which left marks on Nanjing that still remain today. Whenever I see them, I would think of the suffering that its people had endured. Though they went through unimaginable suffering, Nanjing people are still able to accept with a smile Japanese people like myself. lt is certainly reasonable to say that I have been able to live in Nanjing thanks to the good-hearted support of its people. It is my earnest wish that the people of Nanjing enjoy happiness forever.
Societies, cities, and countries are all created by people. I believe that Nanjing’s open-minded atmosphere is definitely a result of the warmth of its people. They are always generous and eager to help others. I have more than a year left in my studies here, and in this remaining time I wish to communicate better with Nanjing people and express my thankfulness to them.
Published in Confucius Institute Magazine
Number 47. Volume VI. November 2016.