Tomonaga Tejima, a Japanese national and Yale graduate, moved to India three years ago when the pharmaceutical company he worked with posted him to Ahmedabad. Concerns about “food and education” in the city, however, prompted him to settle his family in Gurgaon.
“A lot of Japanese people I know who were posted in other cities had also made the same decision. We felt the atmosphere in Gurgaon is a lot more cosmopolitan than other Indian cities as so many foreigners reside here. Since my children are young, I wanted to make sure they had access to good education and hospitals. So I moved them to Gurgaon and travelled back and forth on the weekends,” he says.
Tejima has since left his job in Ahmedabad and has taken up permanent residence in Gurgaon, where he runs a Japanese takeaway restaurant called ‘Sushi Junction’. Apart from catering to the Japanese community in the city, his restaurant also attempts to promote Japanese cuisine among Indians by adding a twist to traditional Japanese dishes.
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Like Tejima, several other Japanese people have also chosen to live in Gurgaon. Most of them are here on employment visas. According to official records, there are more than 8,000 Japanese nationals registered in Gurgaon, with over 2,000 coming into the city in 2014 and 2015.
Most members of the community opt to reside in gated societies and send their children to international schools. A real estate manager said, “A majority of the Japanese people who use our services choose to reside in gated condominiums along Golf Course Road as they are cosmopolitan in nature and safe.”
The steady increase in the number of Japanese nationals in Gurgaon has lead to a simultaneous proliferation of Japanese stores and restaurants in the city, creating a thriving Japanese sub-culture. Magazines published in Japanese are also in circulation. One such publication is Sivance, a bi-monthly lifestyle magazine.
“We publish the magazine to familiarise Japanese nationals with the NCR and help them adjust to India,” says Taiga Haraga, who works for the magazine.
While they speak favourably about the city, Japanese nationals do admit that it is not without flaws. While Tejima feels the “environment for business” is a “little problematic”, other residents complain about more immediate issues such as safety, especially for women, as well as dirt and pollution.
Despite these issues, Gurgaon continues to attract hundreds of Japanese nationals every year.