Yokohama, September 6:
He calls it “Bazaro”, that’s the closest he comes to pronouncing the word bazaar. Over 20 people in the three-storey building in the Kusugaya area of Yakohama city work on different handicraft products from Nepal and he manages to dispatch them to over 700 shops all over the country. This is what he means by the organisation called “Nepali Bazaro”, which promotes Nepali products in Japan and provides scholarships to 200 Nepali children every year.
For the past 15 years, Tsucihya Kanji has been operating a kind of NGO in Yokohama, selling Nepali goods since 1992.
Kanji, in his late fifties, told The Himalayan Times, “Every morning, I wake up thinking about Nepal and my days end with Nepal’s images in my mind. The simple and honest Nepali faces come to my mind when I look at their products.”
“It is all I can do for my love to the country. It is my small effort to provide some comfort to Nepal. I wish I could do more,” he added.
His social work started in a small scale and a well-paid employee at Mitsubishi Electric Company, he slowly got himself obsessed with Nepal to the extent that he finally gave up his job in 1997 and concentrated on his firm Nepali Bazaro Ltd, which promotes Nepali craft products in Japan and provides scholarships for Nepali children out of the profit it makes.
Nepal Bazaro imports coffee, tea, spices, threads, cotton, incense sticks, embroidery works, clay works, bamboo works, and other crafts goods. And after re-packing them with information of the products in Japanese language, he dispatches them to Japanese shops.
For the past six years, he has been providing scholarships to over 200 students and is thinking of doing something more. “We are now thinking about providing scholarships to more students,” he said.
He said the demand for Nepali products is growing in Japan these days. Earlier, it was tough introducing some thing from Nepal, a country known to few people in Japan.
“We used to roam around shops, from mornings to evenings and tried to leave some goods to be displayed at their windows. First they openly refused to give space and later agreed to take in the condition that they would pay us back only after those goods are sold. And it went on endlessly,” he said.
The consumers love Nepali goods because they are natural, organic, and comfortable for wearing, according to him.
“Nepalis are hard-working but they are yet to understand the significance of quality production. Sometimes, it becomes really difficult to work with them. Still, I’m hopeful that the quality of production will improve,” he said.
Among others, he has taken initiatives to run a proper shop named “Verda” to promote goods from Nepali Bazaro in Yokohama. He said that in the bustling city like Yokohama, his shop is doing “not bad” business and more than profit, he is concentrating on introducing Nepali products in the country. Apart from this, he has published six books on Nepali folk stories in Japanese language. (Mr Manandhar was recently in Japan)