SGRA Kawaraban (Essay) in English

Maria PROKHOROVA “My Home Country”

I was born in Russia and graduated from the Moscow City Teachers’ Training University. Since I majored in education of the Japanese language, I could have chances to come to Japan twice (Akita and Fukuoka). After my graduation in Moscow, I lived in Japan (Yokohama and Tokyo) for the purpose of taking my studies more seriously. The period of my studying in Japan was eight years, and I had various changes in these eight years. The biggest change in this period is “an eye for watching my home country”.


During my high school and university years, I had little interest in my home country, and I had been crazy about Japan since high school. I was filled with Japanese drama or songs. I wore KIMONO at the high school graduation ceremony (though dressing was a little problematic). When I enrolled at the university, I was interested in Japan. The number of friends who study Japanese increased, and I concentrated on Japan more and more. It was lucky that there were friends who could share my interest, and such circumstances deepened my interest. I could get skills that are useful now by making the most of such luck. It may be the warmest memory in my life. However, I could be inexperienced, and my horizons were narrow.   


When I visited Japan, I got a lot of questions about Russia. “Are there dialects in Russia?” “How about Russian eating culture?” etc. It was the first time that I recognized I was Russian. I did not know about Russia, despite living in Russia. I noticed there are a lot of mysteries in Russia, and Russia is a country that is “hard to know”. There are strange characteristics in every country. In the case of Russia, its geographical size is important. For example, if you live in Moscow, you cannot understand Vladivostok well because it is far from Moscow by more than 6000 km. You cannot understand unless you check and go there or communicate with people who live there.


If you think of Russia from the inside, your vision is usually restricted. You think you know Russia, but you know just a small part of it. It may be your own surrounding environment or the environments of your relatives or friends. If you look at Russia from the outside, it would be bigger, more complicated, and more interesting. When I listened to and answered the opinions of Japanese students who studied Russian, I realized that Russia is not limited to the environs of Moscow and became more three-dimensional. When I had a temporary return, I did domestic tours and town research. I noticed I could deepen my relationship with home country only after I tried my best effort to know it by myself. It is wrong that we know a home country well from the beginning.  


Recently, the concept of “home country” has been questioned, and a passion for “home country”, so-called “patriotism”, is used for the wrong purposes. So, I am on the alert a little when I hear this word. However, I cannot agree with my friends who insist “I do not have a home country”. There are some reasons for their statement. For example, they have more than one home country, or maybe not a “mother country” but a “mother-in-law country” or a “father country”. Or maybe not a country, but just some area. There are a lot of variations of the wording and the feeling. The word “patriotism” is used very often because this word is convenient for a government.   


We have various feelings for the families in which we grew up. Just as well there are infinite ways to see, think, and feel for “home country”. It is no problem if you cannot love the actions or characteristics of your “home country”, or if you feel antipathy against them. However, it is an important fortune where you were born and grew up. When you trace your roots, you may be satisfied. By recognizing the relationship between you and “your home country” like a human relationship, you can find your own way, considering your own background up until now. At present, it may be easy for me if I can close my eyes to the relationship between Russia and myself. However, I do not regret at all that I was interested in my home country and “accepted” it as my important existence. We cannot select the place where we were born. It will be meaningless to evaluate where we were born. However, we can choose “the eyes through which we look at our home country.” And we would be blessed with irreplaceable discovery if we tried to explore the selection of “looking” rather than refrain from “looking” at all.


I spent my springtime devoting myself to Japan. And I am working now on a comparative study of modern literature in Japan and Russia. Now in 2023, I am teaching Russian to Japanese students at the Tokyo University of Foreign Studies. There are a lot of things about which I would like to speak about. For example: “While taking all from the longing for far away, don’t forget to look closely at the country where you are living and the country you were born.”



SGRA Kawaraban 745 in Japanese (Original)



Maria PROKHOROVA: 2022 Raccoon, Teacher at the Tokyo University of Foreign Studies



Translated by Kazuo Kawamura

English was checked by Sabina Koirala