Quesnel welcomes new Japanese volunteer

Quesnel's Shiraoi House has been a draw for many Japanese young people looking to experience another part of the world

Yoshimi Matsuzaki and Eri Sakamoto an outing on Dragon Lake.

Jonas Gagnon

Observer reporter

Bang on schedule, another volunteer slides into Shiraoi house as an old volunteer makes her way out into the vast Canadian wilderness to continue her travels.

Eri Sakamoto, the new volunteer, arrived fresh from the one of the few Canadian Metropolises, Toronto, early in May.

Seeking a little bit of adventure and travel, Eri left Osaka 11 months ago. Because a friend lived in Toronto, Eri decided to move there, so as not to be completely alone in a new country.

With all the international culture in the big city, Eri found herself surrounded by people who spoke her language and were of the same culture as her.

“In Toronto, it was easy because there were so many Japanese people.”

Surrounded by Japanese, she found Toronto was not too different from her hometown.

“Because it’s like Japan, it was easy to live. There was lots of Japanese food, so it was a convenient place to live.”

Coming here, however, has been a big change.

“It’s totally different from Osaka,” Eri said.

Here in Quesnel, without all the Japanese people and Asian grocery stores, it’s been a bit harder for Eri. Language has been an obstacle for Eri, as sometimes she finds she can’t quite say exactly what she wants, but these linguistic difficulties are part of the reason she made her way to our small town, buried in the middle of forests of pine, out of the way of many international travelers.

“I came here to make myself speak English.”

There have been some collateral benefits to go with the extra push with her language learning.

“It’s a beautiful city,” Eri said of Quesnel.

“There’s lots of greenery and nature.”

A big change from the grey behemoth of Toronto, she said.

And though she misses Osaka, she is looking forward to her time here in Quesnel learning English and enjoying nature.

Eri is returning to Japan a little earlier than planned as she recently secured a job back home.

Summer hours for the Quesnel Shiraoi House are Wednesday through Saturday, 10:30 a.m. –  3 p.m, Japanese lessons available on Wednesday 3 – 4 p.m.

For information, call 250-992-6532 and leave a message. One of the members will get back to you.

The Quesnel/Shiraoi House is also available for rent, details available at Quesnel/Shiraoi House.

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