Tokyo Interview #13 Jagmohan Chandrani

Tokyo Interview

I'm really happy to see you.

September 22 (Sat), 2007

#13 Jagmohan Chandrani

President of Japan Business Services, Ltd.
(He's been in Japan since '78)


Finding similarities
makes you comfortable.

His long, long beard catches your eyes. Jagmohan Chandrani is a very, very gentle person. He talks slowly and gently and always brings smiles with his face.
He has been running his business in relation to his home, India, for a long time. Such as Indian cuisine restaurants, a tea shop and organizing the Indian community of Edogawa region, east-end of Tokyo. His activities became well-known among Japanese through TV, newspapers and magazines.

*Interview at Japan Business Services, Ltd.

Click here and get to know more about his restaurant, "Spice Magic Calcutta".

We have a base to have a good relationship.

My father has an export-import business. So when I graduated the university, he wanted me to try a new market. He told me, "Nobody is in Japan." So I came to Japan. We were importing plastics from Japan. For us, to come from India to Japan, we felt that it would lead to a good business.
When I came here, I felt "old and new". Everything was new to me. It was totally different from what I was used to. Many changes were taking place in Japan. But it was interesting.
At that time, there was a travel boom in Japan. People were traveling to India because it was a new destination. Today they are in their forties and fifties. Some of them say they went to India when they were students. So we have a good base now.

Many similarities we found in Japan.

There are a number of differences between India and Japan. But at the same time, we find similar points. Counting differences doesn't help you. Only finding similarities makes you comfortable. You would feel this is something I know or this is something I understand. Then you would feel OK.
Actually, many, many things are similar. The way you greet people and the way you give respect to elderly people. The way you have the festivals. You go to temples, prey and carry something to offer. There are many similarities we found in Japan.

I could not follow the same level as other students.

I had no Japanese ability when I came here because I had no experience or education regarding Japan at university. After I came to Japan, I had a chance to have "self-taught" Japanese.
I went to a Japanese language school only for three months right after coming here. At that time, I was the only Indian in the class. Other people were mainly Chinese from mainland China, Taiwan, Malaysia and Singapore.
When we studied Japanese alphabets (hiragana & katakana), all of us were at the same level. But when we started studying Chinese characters, they already knew them. But I didn't. I felt that I wouldn't be able to move forward. I could not follow at the same level as other students so I left there.

IMGP5201.jpg IMGP5255.jpg
Nishi-kasai, the "Little India" of Tokyo.

Indian people want to enjoy themselves at home.

Indian people who come to Japan are young so they want to enjoy themselves. They meet each other at their homes. As for Japanese, when you want to enjoy yourself, you go to bars or Karaoke boxes.
Indians go to their friends' houses instead. They do the same thing as what you do in Karaoke boxes in their friends' houses through the night. So Japanese people may wonder why they do that.
That's the difference and we have to make Japanese understand it. It will take some time. Indian people want to be at home.
We've tried to find a solution for Indian people, not for Japanese people. We've tried to explain that they would have to lower the volume of audio system when they had a late party at home. I send e-mails to Indians and ask them not to bother neighbors because room walls are thin and people in other rooms are sleeping.
Fortunately, Japanese neighbors are understanding. Of course, some people get angry. They make phone calls and say it's very noisy. But it's not a major trouble. Once in a while, they come and talk to us here. They say that some problem were happening and I would be able to do something for it.

Indians are lonely in Japan.

When we meet somebody, we feel very happy. We Indians are lonely here. If you're living alone or living without a family, you want to meet friends.
We all work for a long time and we don't meet each other often. So even if we meet people on the streets, we start to talk. Time is short and everybody is busy so we start to talk on the streets when we meet.
Japan is a very good country to come, work and live in as long as you're willing to take a risk and work hard. If you want to work in Japan, you have to understand language and culture.


What is Tokyo to you?

Tokyo is a very interesting city. It has many opportunities and a very diverse culture now.

But I think Tokyo will become more international and it'll change further.
Tokyo needs to have more non-Japanese coming and going. If you look at other major cities in the world, such as New York, London, Frankfurt, they have many more foreigners than in Tokyo.

Tokyo has to change to be more international,
more cosmopolitan.

Chandrani's Link

Japan Business Services, Ltd. (Japanese):

Click here and get to know more about his restaurant, "Spice Magic Calcutta".

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