Psychologist Tomo Umemura grew up in the suburbs of Tokyo, Japan. For his university studies, he went to the United States. And for the past 18 months, his home has been Brno. What does he appreciate about life here and why was he surprised to see tatarský biftek at first?
What has brought you to Brno?
I found a job at the Faculty of Social Studies at Masaryk University as a post-doctoral researcher. I study developmental psychology, especially parent-child relationships.
What do you like to do in your free time?
At nights and weekends, I sometimes go out for a drink. And I like going swimming to the Lužánky pool, since my job doesn’t allow me to move my body as much as I would like to.
Is Brno in any way similar to Austin, Texas where you lived before coming here?
University of Texas in Austin is one of the largest universities in the US, and many branches of IT companies such as Facebook or Google are located there. So there are many young people in Austin. Similarly, in Brno, there are many IT companies and big universities so I feel that people in Brno and Austin are very similar type of people.
There also are similarities between Japanese cities and Brno – for example punctual public transportation and nice people who love drinking beer.
And what difference between Japanese cities and Brno would you point out?
The density of population in Brno is, of course, much lower than in Tokyo. Houses in Japan are usually made of woods, whereas here they are made of bricks. And, naturally, there are less Japanese restaurants in Brno. But Koishi has a very good Japanese cook and I think Ebisu is good too.
What do you find good about life in Brno?
The size of Brno is compact, it is not too small but not too big either. I can go to all major places in no longer than 30 minutes. It also is very safe. I can even use the night buses and feel safe.
What do you miss?
I miss using the air-conditioning a little bit. When I lived in Austin, I experienced over 100 degrees Fahrenheit (37.7 degrees Celsius) in more than 100 consecutive days, but never had skin problems. In Brno I had heat rush last summer because of sweat. I have got used to living without air-conditioning, though. And I like the idea of saving energy, so I don’t miss air conditioners so much this year.
But as a Japanese, I miss onigiri which means rice ball. It is triangle-shaped rice wrapped with seaweed. Inside onigiri you can put tuna, fried eggs, pork etc. It is Japanese fast food, like párek v rohlíku. Sometimes I still crave onigiri although I have been away from Japan for more than 10 years.
And what do you think of Czech food?
Czech cuisine is a very good match for me as I love eating meat. When I first came to Brno, I was surprised to see tatarský biftek because it is similar to Korean cuisine and Japanese people love to eat it as well.
What are your favourite places in Brno and its surroundings?
This summer, I have already been at přehrada more than five times. It’s a great place for relaxing and having fun with friends or by oneself. You can swim, canoe, play ping-pong, or take a walk with a dog.
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