I started learning English seriously this time last year, when the influence of COVID was found to be more serious than we thought.
I own a small flower shop on Kiyamachi street in the centre of Kyoto, which is known for its many restaurants and bars. My main business is creating Ikebana works for those restaurants, and selling flowers to people visiting this street.
The situation in Japan is still bad, even worse than a year ago. I don’t buy as many flowers as before. I have lost a lot of business opportunities, and spent a lot of time in front of my laptop instead.
I was thinking. Is there anything I can do for the future right now? I decided to write about Ikebana and Kyoto, and other beautiful things in Japan, in English.
There are three reasons I finally started.
First, I had read many articles about those topics in English. In most of them, I thought, important things weren’t mentioned. So, I’d like to tell the world these things on the Internet.
Second, I found that trying to describe very Japanese things in a different language brings good things to me. I seek a way to tell it as simply as I can, which also helps me to deepen my own understanding.
In the end, I hope to make people who visit here after we overcome COVID, enjoy Kyoto and Japan more. Before this disaster occurred, there were many tourists in Kyoto, especially recently. Famous spots were always filled up with foreign people and many stores and restaurants tended to attract them. The number of sushi and tempura restaurants increased (food which didn’t originate in Kyoto) with English menus. I wondered whether the tourists really enjoyed our city. Some Japanese people say foreign tourists don’t understand our manners. But I think they lack the information and because we, as individuals, don’t really tell them anything interesting about Kyoto at all, they rush to famous sites which only provide general English information.
Ikebana culture also faces a crisis. Lessons and exhibitions, which have been the main activities for a hundred years, have all been canceled because of the virus. Actually, COVID is only a trigger. They were already not attractive to present to people anymore. Now the time has come. We need to think about what is really important for us, for our future, and the world.