Hello everyone. Have you ever heard of the novel “SAMURAI” ? Can you believe that the book was written by Ex ambassador of Embassy of Mexico in Japan? MEXITOWN interviewed the ex-ambassador of Embassy of Mexico in Japan, Mr. Carlos Almada-san.
Almada-san talked about why he started to write down the book “SAMURAI” and what is his impression for Japan.
Fall in love with Japan from my childhood
-Good evening Mr. Almada-san. I’m very honored to interview with you today. First, can you explain your career experience and why you are interested in Japan?
-Almada-san: Thank you very much for taking your time, too. I’m very happy to have an interview of MEXITOWN. I was born in Culiacan, Sinaloa. As you already known, there are many Nikkeis in Sinaloa and the very respected community. Some of them are professionals: doctors, businesspersons. Every nikkeies are honorable, very nice and kind people. From this experience, I am very impressed with them and started to have an interest in Japan and Japanese culture.
After a few years later, I went to Japan for the first time and soon fall in love with Japan! Everything is great, cinema, literatures and so on. I did work in Japan in the future and extremely luckily, I was an ambassador of Embassy of Mexico in Japan from 2015 to 2018. This has been my most interesting job in my whole professional life.
Traveling around Japan was unforgettable and fantastic
-During the period of ambassador of Embassy of Mexico in Japan, where did you visit and most impressive place?
-Almada-san: We traveled Hokkaido to Okinawa! Not only big cities such as Osaka and Tokyo, but also enjoyed small villages. Since we have a limited time in Japan, we visited our friends and places as much as we can. It was impossible to visit everything, but every main island and small towns that we visited were great, especially we enjoyed Buddhist and Shinto culture. For example, Kumanokodo and Koya-san in Wakayama.
- Wakayama is the sister city of Sinaloa that you were born. Is it the one of the reasons why you visited there?
-Alamada-san: Yes, exactly. Therefore, I have a sympathy for Wakayama. In addition, Kumanokodo is the unforgettable memory for us to see Shinto trail and lead to fantastic and shrines and waterfalls. It was very beaituful. I would love people in Sinaloa to visit their sister city Wakayama and realize how beautiful and spiritual culture they have.
Of course, talking about sister cities between Japan and Mexico, we visited several times for Kyoto (sister city with Guadalajara), Hiroshima (with Guanajuato), and Nagoya (with Mexico City). Every time when I visited every city, people welcomed us with a deep Omotenashi. Relationship between Hiroshima and Guanajuato are so successful. We should thank to both governors of Hiroshima and Guanajuato.
Onjyuku -everything started from there
We should not forget about Onjyuku city. Everything started from Onjyuku. In 1609, Don Rodrigo drifted ashore at Onjyuku seashore on their way back to Mexico. At that time, people in Onjyuku protected and saved their life. Then, Don Rodrigo met Tokugawa Ieyasu in Onjyuku. From this history, Onjyuku and Acapulco are now sister cities. Onjyuku is close to Tokyo and there are very good sushi and sashimi. I visited several times and people in Onjyuku kindly welcomed us. Please visit Onjyuku to understand the origin of the history between Mexico and Japan.
-What are your impressions of Japanese culture and people?
Almada-san : It was very hard to foreigners to really get to know Japanese culture. But once they can understand the Japanese literature, cinema painting and other very modern expressions and manga, they will start to learn every day! I do love
Omotenashi culture. It was one of my most impressive cultural experiences in Japan. Now I would like to go back to Japan and feel Omotenashi again.
Horiguchi Kumaichi -real SAMURAI in Mexico
-Your masterpiece "SAMURAI", please share your experience why you started to write this book.
Almada-san : Well, there were several coincidences to start to write “SAMURAI”.
First, only a few people know Horiguchi Kumaichi (堀口九萬一), Japanese diplomat in Mexico. He is the father of famous poet Horiguchi Daigaku as well. He saved the family of President Francisco I. Madero, was deposed in a coup d’état in February 1913, and assassinated. It was a bit forgotten from the history, but fortunately the researcher from higher education centric found his diary and was published in academic journal and somehow in Mexican Senate made a format when I was being appointed an ambassador of Embassy of Mexico in Japan. Then, the Senate degree said we should research about Mr. Horiguchi.
Second, my wife is direct descendant of President Francisco I. Madero. If the diplomat Horiguchi Kumaichi didn’t save the family of Madero, I would not meet my wife and no opportunity to write “SAMURAI”.
The third point is that we were very lucky to find that many people are knowledgeable. Japanese translator and then president of Upper Chamber in Tokyo is very interested in this research and helped us to complete to write down “SAMURAI”. I could meet the granddaughter of Horiguchi and it was great pleasure to meet her and appeal very strong relationship.
-Then, why the title was “SAMURAI”?
Almada-san: Horiguchi Kumaichi was borned as the son of Ashigaru (足軽)in Nagaoka, Niigata prefecture in 1865. Since he was the son of Ashigaru, he learned Bushido values from his childhood. From the Tokugawa period, samurai also learned how to write the poem, doing tea ceremony and shodo. I believe that the reason why he saved my wife’s descendant family, Madero family was from his SAMURAI spirits and Bushido values. He became extremely blamed from governments since he saved family during February 9 to February 22, 1913. Certainly, his family in those terrible and terrific days without sympathy. Even though he was blamed, Mrs. Horiguchi and Mr. Horiguchi protected family of Madero with a warm heart in the small period and guaranteed not to give the harm by Revolution military side.
Therefore, Horiguchi Kumaichi is the real samurai. From his those achievements, he was applauded as the real hero by1930 in Mexico. However, the Mexican Revolution was the sad memory and terrible tragic days, the achievements of Horiguchi Kumaichi was forgotten from the history.
Many people saw the samurai tradition literally or in the movie like Tom Cruise and Ken Watanabe movie “Last Samurai”. So, they will think samurai is not the fiction. Samurai is not a novel, not a fantasy, too. It was really happened. I would like to expand this history for many Mexicans as well. Both Mexico and Japan to know more this Horiguchi Kumaichi’s achievements and I hope someday and somewhere, this method should go through in the crisis situations in the international society.
To younger generations, please open your door to abroad!
-The relationship between Japan and Mexico, what do you think it will be in the future?
Almada-san: Obviously, it has been very positive and fruitful for both countries in the future. There will be more cooperation and new technology knowledge such as new automotive electric and hydrogen biotechnology and nano technology.
It is extremely important is to go on project and dual degree program both in Japan and Mexico. University of Nagaoka and University of Guanajuato joined master degree in engineer degree to research more science and technology field. Recently, younger generations in Japan less study abroad. It is the sad situation for me and hope that there will be more Japanese students and Mexican students go into Japan and Mexico each other. When students go abroad and get different culture and language, they became more intellectual. Besides, many Mexican students go to Japan to work on their post graduate studies Masters and ph.D especially cutting of the edge area.
Now we are here from the long history
-Please give your message for Japanese readers of MEXITOWN.
Almada-san: I am very honored to be the ambassador of Embassy of Mexico in Japan and it was the great memory for me. The media, sports, organization, companies, and universities research centers and families became solid more than ever. Now it is time to accelerate the relationship between Mexico and Japan. Additionally, we should not forget that there was the real samurai such as Horiguchi Kumaichi to protect our future and now we are here. I always very happy to talk with Japanese ppl and learn something enjoy it. Hope to see you again, Japan!!
Carlos Almada graduated in Public Administration from the University of Paris II. He served as Mexico's ambassador to Portugal and Japan. He has professional experience in municipal, state, federal and international administration. He was awarded the 1980 Public Administration Prize. He was Director General of the International Institute of Administrative Sciences in Brussels, Belgium. He has taught at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, the National Institute of Public Administration, the Autonomous University of the State of Mexico, and the Autonomous University of Nuevo León.
It was very honored to talk with the ex-ambassador of Embassy of Mexico in Japan and the author of the masterpiece “SAMURAI”. As he mentioned, SAMURAI is somehow one of the fantasy and some people would think there are no SAMURAI in the history. Or we just defined that SAMURAI wears Kabuto or yoroi, or has chonmage and katana. But it is not. I realized that the ancestor of SAMURAI went abroad and made a fame in the Mexican history and connect to the current society. From the interview, I could catch how Ex ambassador Almada-san love Japanese culture and has more bushido spirits more than Japanese!
温 祥子（Shoko Wen）