Yoshinobu Emoto's Philosophy of Life in Chengdu

Authors: Go Chengdu

2020-03-24

In May 2018, Yoshinobu Emoto, a Japanese man who had made several business trips to Chengdu, moved to the city and started to serve as Vice Chairman and General Manager of the Chengdu Ito-Yokado Co., Ltd. During his stay in the city, the well-tempered Japanese executive, who loves China's Three Kingdoms Culture and Sichuan food, realized his philosophy of life in Chengdu during his daily work and life.
An Urban Observer
In the summer of 1997, Yoshinobu Emoto got his first chance to come to Chengdu. As a purchaser with 10 years of sales experience at Ito-Yokado Japan at that time, he was dispatched to Chengdu for inspecting Masutake mushroom. At the end of 1997, when the first Ito-Yokado store outside Japan was opened on Chunxi Road, Chengdu, Emoto set foot in the city once again. He recalled, "At that time, air routes and flights, cars from the airport to the downtown areas and traffic lights were scarce in Chengdu." What impressed him most at the time were the students who studied under the streetlights along the path in front of the Ito-Yokado Chunxi store. Deeply touched by this scene, he sincerely felt in his heart, "Chengdu will definitely have great development prospects in the future!"
In 2017, Tomihiro Saegusa, President of Ito Yokado (the former head of Ito-Yokado's China operations and Chairman of Chengdu Ito-Yokado), who had a deep friendship with Chengdu, returned to Japan and told his colleagues the fast economic and social development of Chengdu as a "major city in southwest China" and encouraged them to go to Chengdu to have a close look at the Chinese city. In this case, as a member of the investigation group sent by Ito-Yokado, Emoto came to Chengdu again. The great changes and quick development of the city, which he hadn't noticed for so long, amazed him enormously. A year later, Emoto's relationship with the city continued. He was sent to Chengdu to work, where his fulfilling life promptly began.
After he came to Chengdu this time, the first thing he saw was the city's incredibly convenient urban life. "I don't feel out of place, uncomfortable or homesick here," he said. Notably, impressed by Chengdu's incredible development in urban transportation such as the new airport, the Second Ring Overpass and the high-speed railway in recent years, he specifically mentioned the city's bus rapid transit (BRT) lanes on the Second Ring Overpass, "Chengdu's BRT lanes are so good, but this kind of infrastructure would be a challenge in Japan due to its relatively narrow streets." In his proposal for Chengdu's development, Emoto deemed that Chengdu's rapid development in public transportation would create a more promising future for the city.
During his days in Chengdu, Emoto's understanding of the city deepens day by day. Having been engaged in food-related work for most of his career, he always observes Chengdu's food culture and local people's life carefully. He finds that Mapo Tofu, a Sichuan specialty well known in Japan, is a common dish on the dining table of Chengdu people, but few of them order it when eating out. "On the contrary, people in Japan absolutely order Mapo Tofu when going out for Chinese food!" he said. Emoto also notices that many people in Chengdu do not cook. Therefore, developing convenient convenient foof has become one of the major tasks of Ito-Yokado Chengdu.
"Turning Yourself into a Chengdu Local"
The best advice of Emoto on how foreign friends quickly integrate themselves into Chengdu life is to "turn yourself into a Chengdu local". To that end, there are many simple ways.
The change in "eating" is very important. In his neighborhood, there are a slew of Japanese restaurants around Carrefour - Great World Store. After having come to Chengdu, Emoto tried Japanese food and Sichuan food equally, with hot pot accounting for half of his attempts for the latter. It's always an adventure for Emoto to go out for hot pot with his co-workers. He loves eating spicy food. In addition to enjoying dishes in the spicy-flavor broth, he bravely tries some animal innards. When entertaining his Japanese friends in Chengdu each time, Emoto always arranges a hot pot banquet. He said, "I really want them to try delicious Sichuan dishes!"
During Emoto's a-year-and-a-half stay in Chengdu, Ito-Yokado has opened two new stores and renovated its three food stores. "Due to the heavy workload, I'm busy with my work every day and I don't realize that I have unconsciously integrated myself into the local society," he said. During his work, Emoto also finds ways to get closer to the local people. As a company manager, he usually greets customers on the opening, closing and first days of big promotions. And many customers communicate with him during his shop inspections. In his view, it's very important to listen to customers and solve their troubles. "Because of the constant changes in the ways of thinking and living standards of Chengdu people, we have to update the ways we work, instead of clinging to those we worked 23 years ago," he said.
In his busy schedule, Emoto has occasional moments of leisure to enjoy his life. Once, he took his wife, who flew to Chengdu from Japan, to the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding to watch lovely pandas. "After all, the giant panda is one of the most famous parts of Chengdu!" he said with a big smile. Among Chengdu's tourist attractions, Wuhou Shrine is the one most frequented by Emoto. During his school days, Emoto learned about the Three Kingdoms Culture and the importance of the culture of Shu Kingdom in Chengdu history. He is a big fan of the Three Kingdoms Culture. This can be seen from the pictures on his mobile phone screen and WeChat avatar - Zhuge Liang, an important official of the Shu Kingdom during the Three Kingdoms Period.
"Compared with Tokyo, Chengdu is more like Osaka. It makes me feel at home!" Osaka is known for its enthusiast and hospitable people in Japan. He said it is Chengdu's relaxing and friendly urban atmosphere that has helped him to adapt to the life here quickly. Despite the language barrier, he feels Chengdu people's friendliness and happiness in the bottom of his heart, thanks to his excellent interpreter colleagues and the translation software on his mobile phone.
So far this year, Emoto and his colleagues have made a series of plans to bring brand-new shopping experiences and services to Chengdu people. As for himself, Emoto hopes to be more active in getting closer to Chengdu by "making more connections with the city".

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