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Turkish tea and friendship transform Japanese man’s life

Okawa Hiroshi (65), Izmir, June 6, 2024. (AA Photo)
June 7, 2024

The life of Okawa Hiroshi, a 65-year-old man living in Nara, Japan, was forever changed by a simple cup of tea 46 years ago offered by a Turkish friend he met during his university years. This chance encounter sparked a lifelong fascination with Turkish culture.

It all began with a cup of Turkish tea, traditionally served in a glass by his friend Ibrahim. This small gesture by Ibrahim ignited Okawa’s curiosity, leading him to delve deeper into Turkish culture. Fueled by his newfound passion, Okawa embarked on a research trip to Türkiye, immersing himself in its rich culture.

Okawa Hiroshi, 65, is seen in front of a shop in Izmir, Türkiye, June 6, 2024. (AA Photo)

In 1982, he decided to deepen his understanding of Turkish culture by enrolling in a language course in Istanbul. He even converted to Islam, demonstrating his deep respect and appreciation for the country’s traditions.

He went on to study Turkish language and literature at Hacettepe University, later specializing in Turkic languages. During this period, he traveled extensively throughout Türkiye, enriching his understanding through cultural immersion. After completing his master’s thesis, Okawa returned to Japan and embarked on a new chapter as a Turkish language instructor.

While working as a Turkish and Kazakh teacher in Japan, Okawa wrote grammar books on Turkish languages and opened his own Turkish course center and started teaching Turkish to trainees of all ages.

Okawa Hiroshi is seen stirring a cup of Turkish tea, Izmir, June 6, 2024. (AA Photo)

Okawa was appreciated both in Japan and in Türkiye for his work on Turkish culture and the Turkish language. Expressing that he feels very lucky, Okawa expresses his admiration for Türkiye’s rich cultural heritage and love for the Turkish language at every opportunity.

Okawa, who came to Izmir for a presentation on Ertugrul Frigate and Kushimoto to strengthen Japan’s relations with Türkiye, once again emphasizes his love for Turkish and Turkish culture. Okawa emphasized the importance of the Ertugrul Frigate, which was sent to Japan by Sultan Abdulhamid II and sunk on its way back, and plans to settle in Kushimoto to contribute to Turkish-Japanese relations.

Okawa’s story shows how a cup of Turkish tea is more than just a drink, it can change a life.

By AA Last Updated:  Jun 7, 2024 12:53 PM