Sun, Mar 16, 2014 - Page 14 News List

Auto boom fuels Mexicans’ drive to embrace Japan

By Laurent Thomet  /  AFP, CELAYA, Mexico

“There’s differences between Japan and Mexico,” said Tomokazu Matsushita, the 34-year-old manager of subsidiary Honda Trading, who moved to the country seven months ago with his wife and children.

“In Mexico, how can I say this ... to buy something and install something, it takes a little bit of time,” he said, stressing that he has been too busy working to see much more of the country.

Lopez Santillana said the two cultures are learning from each other.

“In Mexico, we use terms such as manana [tomorrow] and ahorita [right now]. We are getting used to the fact that [for the Japanese] ‘tomorrow’ means the first work hour of the next day and that ahorita really means right now,” he said.

Mexicans also have advice for the Japanese.

“We are teaching them to be flexible,” Lopez Santillana said.

The services and tourism industry are adapting and growing, with 22 hotels under construction, more Japanese restaurants opening and plans to build a school for Japanese children.

The 126-room Casa Inn Hotel in Celaya has become the second home of visiting Honda executives. The hotel’s 99 employees have taken Japanese lessons, the restaurant’s menu is in Japanese with dishes like Udon noodle soup and guests can watch Japanese public broadcaster NHK.

“The whole city is in great communion with the Japanese,” Casa Inn rooms manager Federico Mendoza Schuster said. “We know that their presence is important and beneficial to our city.”

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