Mr.Hiroto Yamada, Matsuri Committee Staff Management
An upcoming event, Matsuri Japan Festival 2018, will be held on 8th of December. Last year, approximately 50,000 people enjoyed themselves in the festival and it ended with a great success. Today, we had an interview with Hiroto Yamada who engages in the management of more than 100 volunteer staff. He had made up his mind after working as a part-timer in Japan and currently works as an accountant in a local company in Australia while unifying the Matsuri volunteers. We have asked about episodes in Australia which became a turning point of his career, passion for Matsuri, and messages for the youth trying to volunteer for Matsuri.
“WANT TO BUILD THE BIGGEST MATSURI TEAM IN AUSTRALIA”
Feeling Lost in Part-Time Status Determined Him to Study in Australia in order to Make His Life Change
Mr. Yamada: Sixteen years have already passed since I moved to Australia. I had lived in Japan until came here. I worked as a part-timer after graduating from a high school and actually found it difficult to make a living. At that time, I had a part-time job at the izakaya, Japanese-style bar, where many university students who are the same generation as me also worked there and their conversation was full of school life such as club activities and exams. I had felt inferior to them and thought “Studying at university might be exciting. Should I really continue to work here as a part-timer?”, The students enjoying their school life seemed to be totally different from myself and made me feel uncomfortable in that place.
“Am I okay with this situation?”, I thought, however, it is difficult to back to the standard path in Japan if you deviate from, isn’t it? At such time I didn’t know what I should do and then came up with the idea “going overseas” as one choice. That was really thoughtless and with no particular motive like “I might survive in the future if I can speak English”. lol Furthermore, I decided to go to Australia because a Canadian friend who got along with me at that time recommended me that “Canada is great but Australia would be better for you if you don’t like cold weather”, when I asked him for advice. lol
Got Desperate but Australia Gave Me A Second Life
Mr. Yamada: Mainly Japanese people do read and write English but do not speak, only because many of them have never listened to authentic English. Even if they try to talk with native speakers when it’s necessary, they won’t say “How are you?” which Japanese people used to learn in textbooks and then they lost what to say. lol
In the beginning, I asked local people that “write it down when you don’t understand” and tried to communicate with them using notes. Somehow, I was able to communicate with them although I could not speak English at all, and it helped me to be confident that I can survive without using English. lol Thanks to such experience in Australia, the hurdle of life in overseas lowered in my mind.
As a first step, I went to the language school, but my English proficiency much improved than I expected and decided to transfer to the university. Although I enrolled in the university, I could not get an offer from the department where I wanted to study and left before graduation at last. I think I was 25 years old then, approaching age 30 which is one of the turning points in life, I considered my future seriously again. Originally, I wanted to study business, that’s why I determined “I will become an accountant in Australia” again and attempted to study at the university deliberately. After all, I could graduate from that university successfully, and I am currently working as an accountant in the local firm besides sparing the time for Matsuri.
Australian People Never Care about Turning Away from the Standard Rail lol
Mr. Yamada: The reason why I would like to continue to stay in Australia in spite of many mistakes is the size of the gap between life in Japan and in Australia. In Japan, I did not enjoy my own life at all. While I have been feeling that I am alive and thinking deeply “I chose this way by myself” since I came to Australia even though I had some ups and downs.
Many people from various countries exactly live together and tend to accept each other in Sydney. No one cares that I turned away from the standard rail. lol For example, people older than 20 years should have already decided their future in Japan, while the 20s basically do whatever they want and many people would consider their future seriously from 30s in Australia. In addition, a lot of people quit their job and re-enrol in the university after they once get the job, that is to say Australian people are flexible.
Would Like Japanese People to Enjoy their Life in Australia through Matsuri
Mr. Yamada: To be honest, I haven’t communicated with Japanese people too much since I came to Australia. However, eventually, I could have free time to spare from 3 years ago and started to think that “I would like to do something for Japan as one of the Japanese” and interact with people belonging to the Japanese community. It led me to find Matsuri and engage in the management of this organisation.
Of course, I would like people who live in Australia to experience the beauties of Japan, but I strongly hope that Japanese people who reside in Australia enjoy their lives more in the country as well. In addition, the cost of living, studying as well as working in Australia are highly competitive, compared to those in Japan. There must be a lot of struggles for students and those who are on working holidays from Japan, so I would like this hard-working youth to have fun in Australia even during their tough time.
Matsuri is also a place where Japanese and non-Japanese people who are interested in Japan can meet and interact each other. Communicating with people from different countries would be the highlight of living abroad and Matsuri can be the best opportunity in that sense.
Since I had a wonderful experience in Australia, I would like to show my gratitude for everyone this time. I would recommend those who have a concern such as “I came to Australia but I cannot find any opportunity to meet people from different countries” to join our community.
Nothing Better Than Beer in a Wrap Up Party After Working Hard with Other Members!!
Mr. Yamada: I like having fun in events so much that I used to work as an executive committee member of a school festival. Seeing people enjoying themselves and their smiley faces makes me happy. Of course, the larger scale events become, the more challenges would occur, but beer in a wrap up party after overcoming all of the difficulties makes me feel great!! It is not too much to say that I work so hard just to enjoy drinks. lol
Fifty thousand people joined the Matsuri last year. It was an unimaginable number of visitors and I could not have accomplished by myself. On that day, approximately 100 volunteers showed up for help and I could have a chance to communicate with each one of them as a volunteer manager. This opportunity made me realise that each one of efforts led to the great team work for the Matsuri as a whole.
I can gain an opportunity for working with people in Matsuri whom I usually don’t, I learn many things from them. The youth, especially, help me gain new points of view, so working in Matsuri is one of valuable experiences in my life.
Why Do Japanese People Say Thank You A Lot? – Find Out the Truth in Matsuri
Mr. Yamada: In Matsuri, you would enjoy Japanese cultural performances on stage, and experience traditional Japanese sports especially Karate and sub-culture such as anime and cosplay. Not only do these attractions, but also food stalls which are one of the quintessential parts of summer festivals in Japan are also going to serve you. Additionally, workshops such as Japanese calligraphy, Origami and tea ceremony will be held for gaining experience of Japanese culture. Since a number of Australians as well as Japanese people work as volunteers for the Matsuri, it would be the best opportunity to interact with each other.
The theme for the Matsuri this year is “ありがとう – appreciation –” and I would like to share the Japanese sensibility of the feeling of gratitude they value with Australians. Since I came to Australia, I have started to consider a fact that “I was born and raised in Japan” as my own identity.
It is often said that Japanese people always bow and say “sorry sorry” and “thank you thank you”. lol I believe this is because Japanese people strongly feel thankful for what someone did for them and they want to express the appreciation. In this year’s Matsuri, I would like Australians to recognise why Japanese people have such behaviour.
The Age Gap Doesn’t Matter! Let’s Build Up the Matsuri Team with All Members
Mr. Yamada: In the Matsuri this year, as a volunteer management, I would expect the youth to think about the meaning of working as volunteers for them. Volunteering could be just a non-paid work; however, that’s why different members can gain different types of compensation. Some people volunteer because they would like to help, others might want to acquire skills, gain experience or simply love festivals.
I hope that volunteers can obtain something beneficial through the experience in the Matsuri. I would value their motivation, proactively create opportunities to realise any idea and promote those who have willingness for responsible positions. Although I am the volunteer manager, it is more about every member working all together so as to establish a team.
As long as you have a willingness, all that is left is to take action for it. The Japanese youth tend to be concerned about such as “How long hours would I be tied down to the volunteering?” or “Do I need to have a certain skills or experience?”, yet if you are interested even a little, do not worry about the small things and give it a try! Let’s make the Matsuri the largest festival in Australia together!
Interviewer: Sayako Takagi