• Joe Shem

I value the Japanese way of kikubari (気配り - attentiveness).

Updated: Nov 2, 2021

I had the pleasure of speaking with Dr. Masato Nagao.

Dr. Nagao was born in Hokkaido, the most northern prefecture of Japan, and came to the United States 25 years ago. Here is a summary of our conversation about his life in the United States.

The most significant event in his life after coming to the United States was the birth of his only daughter, 22 years ago. For him, it was absolutely key for his daughter to be able to speak Japanese.

Like many Japanese-American and Japanese children living in the Bay Area, his daughter attended and graduated from a Japanese school on Saturdays from elementary school to high school. She then attended and graduated from a college in Japan and is planning to start her new job next spring in Japan.

Dr. Nagao feels content with his daughter leading her life the way she wants to. However, he did admit that his wife may want to return to Japan and move back and forth from the United States to Japan, should his daughter’s lifestyle permit it.

Besides Japanese language skills, Dr. Nagao himself finds that he values the Japanese way of kikubari (気配り - attentiveness).

“Kikubari” is a part of Japanese dialogue that Dr. Nagao has not found in American English dialogue. He lamented that upon going back to his home in Japan, friends who knew him before he moved to the United States say that he has become blunt and straightforward in an American way.

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