BENGALURU:At 70 years old Kazumasa Kuboki, a Japanese national residing in Bengaluru is one of the most recognizable faces from that country here. He has been in the city for the past 14 years, first as the director of the Japan External Trade Organisation and now as a private business consultant, and can speak and sing in Kannada. Its no wonder that his presence is always needed for almost any Japanese event in Bengaluru.
At the Japan Habba on Sunday, Kuboti was all prepped up to take the stage and belt some popular Kannada numbers when City Express caught up with him. “I have been learning Kannada and singing Kannda songs for a few years,” he says. The Japan Habba was started around 13 years ago and Kuboki has been a regular at the event.
Trying to carefully pronounce his Kannada words, he says, “We have a number of songs lined up such as the Elliruve Manava Kaduva and Huttidare Kannada.” The two songs - from the Ananth Nag and Kaplana starer Byalu Daari and Rajkumar’s Aakasmika, repsectively - are cult hits. “I think anyone who comes from outside should make an effort to learn about and respect the local language and culture. It increases the bond of friendships,” he says.
Kuboki did not go for formal lessons in Kannada but learnt the language by speaking and observing from the locals. “I learn from the locals and other friends here. My own driver is a local and he also teaches me when he can. He suggested some songs that would be good for me. At first it was quite tough to learn the language but then I gradually picked it up,” he says. Besides Kannada, Kuboki also knows Hindi, Tamil and Bengali. “I think I am most comfortable in Hindi. I know how to speak in Kannada but sadly cannot write,” he says.
Kuboki says that since he arrived in the city 14 years ago, there have been tremendous changes especially with the influx of people from various parts of the country and outside and great improvements in infrastructure. “There have been lots of changes since I first stepped here. There are now many malls and all kinds of people, from North India, South India and the Northeast India. The number of the Japanese here has also increased,” he says.
Kuboki’s family is in Japan and he goes home at least three times in a year. “My wife works in a university so she cannot stay here with me,” he adds.