How Does Kosovo Look to a Japanese Woman?
Anyway, I learned how to cross the street after a week - the traffic without street lights surprised me at first, but I survived.
So what was it like to be a Japanese person in Kosovo?
Bridge in Kosovska Mitrovica, Kosovo. View from north, 2014. Photo: Wikimedia/Pudalek
Full of men. This was my first impression of the city. Groups of men drinking coffee, strolling on the streets, talking to each other vigorously. I don't see so many men in groups during daytime in Kyoto, the old capital of Japan where I live.
Kosovan men have beards. Very handsome, indeed, and they look tough.
They are usually clothed in black or dark coloured jackets and pants, aren't they? They look even tougher because of the clothing.
When I walked into a restaurant, any restaurant, groups of bearded men looked at me, just because I was different. Of course they couldn't tell if I was Japanese or Chinese. Didn't matter. It was a bit scary for me to be looked at by bearded men. (Japanese men usually don't have beards, you see.)
I had the chance to talk with a few bearded men, and it turned out they were not scary at all but very kind.
One day I went to the norther city of Mitrovica. An hour-long drive out of Pristina disclosed a beautiful landscape of pastures and orange tiled houses. I saw mountains crowned with snow in the south and gentle slopes of green hills in the east. Agricultural fields and cows made me a bit homesick for Japan.
We visited the City Museum of Mitrovica, where the curator gave us a powerful tour through the museum. From her, I learned that so many things had been destroyed and lost during the last war and it was the "big love" of the curators that made it possible for the museum possible...