Ukrainians evacuated to eastern Japanese town tell mayor they appreciate warm hospitality

Anastasiia Motorna, right, tells Hitachi Mayor Haruki Ogawa about her recent life in the city at the Ibaraki Prefectural Municipal Government Hall, Sept. 7, 2022. (Mainichi/Takahiro Tauchi)

HITACHI, Ibaraki — Two Ukrainian evacuees from this eastern Japanese city paid a courtesy visit to the mayor on September 7 and told him how much they appreciated the warm hospitality.

Nataliia Babenko, 26, and Anastasiia Motorna, 21, who fled the Russian invasion and have been living in Hitachi town, Ibaraki prefecture, since late July, started attending Japanese language school end of August. They told Mayor Haruki Ogawa that the teachers and students at the school kindly help them and that they love the city.

Babenko and Motorna are both from Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital, and came to Japan with the help of “Japanese Supports for Ukrainian Students” (JSUS), made up of Japanese language schools across the country. They are currently studying at the Japanese language school Hitachi Sakura, a member of the support group. The Hitachi municipal government also helps their lives through means such as providing free municipal housing.

Language school principal Miyuki Matsuura explained how the students are doing, and Mayor Ogawa replied, “We would like to give them as much help as possible so that they can live and study in peace. We want to Let them let us know if they get in trouble.”

Motorna said in Japanese, “I got used to life here. I talk on the phone with my parents in Kyiv every night.” She said she loves Japanese food, adding with a smile, “I really like gyoza dumplings. I recently used a rice cooker for the first time, and Japanese rice tastes better than rice. Ukrainian.” She said she plans to return to her home country in the future and dreams of becoming a Japanese teacher.

(Japanese original by Takahiro Tauchi, Hitachi Local Bureau)

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