Kasumi Abe: ‘We have to tell younger generations what happened here’

Kasumi Abe: ‘We’ve got to inform youthful generations what occurred right here’

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Kasumi Abe is a Japanese journalist who has lived in New York for nearly 20 years. In 2018, she revealed “Tabi no Trace E book Brooklyn,” a e book that explores the folks, locations and historical past of her borough. When COVID-19 arrived within the Spring of 2020, she was in New York, reporting on town and its folks. And now she watches because the streets as soon as once more swell with life — set to the backdrop of the twentieth anniversary of the terrorist assaults of Sept. 11, 2001.

1. The place did you develop up? I grew up in Kitakyushu, Fukuoka Prefecture.

2. When and why did you progress to New York Metropolis? The very first time I got here to New York was in 1990. It was for a homestay, and it was my first time touring abroad. On the time, I wished to be an artist, so I selected New York to see what was occurring right here. And I wished to see an artwork faculty, which was the Faculty of Visible Arts in Manhattan. The subsequent time was throughout the ’90s once more, and I got here right here to report on the Broadway comedy present, “Tony n’ Tina’s Marriage ceremony.” Then I got here in 2002, nearly 19 years in the past. I got here right here to go to English faculty. I used to be planning to spend solely two years, however I actually preferred it and located a job.

3. What do you keep in mind in regards to the metropolis once you first arrived? Once I first arrived at Newark Airport in 1990, I noticed a few pickpockets on the airport, after which on Fifth Avenue, so I used to be shocked. I may keep in mind the gorgeous views of the high-rises in Manhattan, the gorgeous view from Brooklyn Bridge. That’s my first reminiscence of New York.

4. In your first few months in New York, did you’ve a favourite neighborhood? In 2002, I lived within the Morningside Heights space, and it was very quiet and peaceable. There’s a gorgeous church, and it’s close to Riverside Park. My space was additionally near Harlem. There’s two totally different facets: quiet, peaceable and in addition extra energetic, and there’s so many individuals; I actually preferred that distinction, two sides of New York Metropolis.

5. How does it differ being a journalist in America in comparison with Japan? So right here in America, I’m known as a journalist. To Japanese folks, although, in the event you name your self a journalist then folks may think a warfare or political correspondent. So, I didn’t notice I used to be a journalist in Japan. Then sooner or later, one in every of my former American coworkers informed me that I’m a journalist, and that’s once I turned conscious that I used to be.

6. What’s it prefer to work as a contract journalist in New York? I feel being a contract journalist is a bit simpler in America than in Japan as a result of even in the event you’re a contract journalist, it’s not too troublesome to get credentials right here. I’ve heard that in Japan it may be troublesome for freelancers to get credentials for press conferences.

7. You’ve interviewed some notable folks. What was Roger Federer like? He’s very relaxed and easygoing. I interviewed him at a launch occasion for On trainers in 2019. There was lower than an hour to interview him, and it was very tense. He was not tense, however there have been so many individuals round him.

8. Why did you write “Tabi no Trace E book Brooklyn”? I acquired the provide from a publishing firm in Tokyo, and I stated “in fact” as a result of I really like my neighborhood. And I really like the folks in Brooklyn. This space has a really distinctive historical past and tradition. In the future, I talked with my pal’s Italian American grandmother, she’s in her 80s. I requested her, “Are you from New York?” She stated, “No, I’m from Brooklyn.”

9. What’s the e book about? It’s a guidebook with176 pages. It’s all about my neighborhood. I interviewed retailer homeowners, artists, brewmasters and all types of attention-grabbing Brooklynites. I additionally took images of the shops and folks. I labored with a really gifted editor and designer, and so they supported me in making this e book occur.

10. What’s your favourite spot within the borough? I’d select Prospect Park. It’s like Central Park, nevertheless it’s extra compact. Since COVID-19, I take my bike from the bottom of my home and trip there nearly each week. It’s very refreshing and wholesome. I’m so grateful for such stunning nature within the middle of town.

11. The place in Brooklyn ought to Japanese vacationers go to? Many individuals would suggest vacationers go to the DUMBO space or Williamsburg. After all, these are fashionable locations, however I might suggest strolling on a avenue with some stunning brownstone buildings. It’s so cool, and you may really feel the historical past of Brooklyn once you stroll down its streets.

12. What has it been like in New York throughout the pandemic? In March and April (final 12 months), it regarded like a ghost city. I used to be so shocked. On March 30, I went to Pier 90 in Manhattan to report on the USNS Consolation, a hospital ship. It was round 1 p.m. and I walked again from there to the forty second Road Station, by way of Occasions Sq., and there was nearly nobody.

I did meet the Bare Cowboy, a avenue performer. So, we talked and he was nice. He was taking part in music, although there have been only some folks — he’s nonetheless there. He even performed a Japanese tune for me. I attempted to provide him a tip, however he didn’t take it.

After the Bare Cowboy, I continued to the Occasions Sq. Station. A man drove in on a slingshot and parked within the middle of Occasions Sq., and he performed Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York” loudly. All you may hear was the silence of New York and Frank Sinatra throughout Occasions Sq.. It was like a scene in a film, and I cried.

13. That will need to have been powerful. Was there any strategy to launch that emotion? It was very powerful. All of the shops closed, and also you’d see the information of how many individuals handed away that day. Seeing the massive fridge vans by hospitals, that was horrifying. However each evening at 7 p.m., you’d hear clapping. Such as you have been at a soccer or baseball recreation, which continued for just a few months. So each 7 p.m. there was a little bit of hope.

14. How has town modified over the previous two years? At first I assumed, the medical system right here is nice so I ought to be OK. However I’d watch the information and shortly realized if I acquired COVID-19, I couldn’t simply go see a physician. I stayed residence all day as a result of I used to be fearful of getting it.

Then, in June 2020, there have been the Black Lives Matter marches. Issues modified, I noticed so many individuals out. This 12 months I’ve began seeing eating places and companies reopening. Now, there are such a lot of folks exterior. I’m glad I acquired vaccinated.

15. It’s the twentieth anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist assaults. Does the legacy of that day linger? Individuals may suppose that it was a very long time in the past, that it’s prior to now, however I don’t suppose I really feel that approach. It’s nonetheless going.

Yearly, I interview New Yorkers about their expertise of 9/11 for Yahoo Japan Information. I additionally write items about locations, together with the 9/11 memorials on Staten Island. One is for first responders who labored after the collapse of the World Commerce Heart, and yearly, extra names are added to the 107 folks that have been there in 2017. So I really feel prefer it’s not over. (The legacy of 9/11) remains to be persevering with.

16. Are there similarities to the methods New Yorkers handled 9/11 and the pandemic? Each tragedies affected New Yorkers and have been unhappy, however I interviewed a Japanese woman who was right here in 2001 and in 1993 for the World Commerce Heart bombing. She skilled three main disasters right here.

She stated that in 2001 folks wished to get collectively, folks wished to combat collectively to get well, it was a really constructive angle. However this time she feels it’s totally different. Regardless, we have now to inform youthful folks what occurred right here.

17. Is there a Japanese neighborhood in New York? It’s one thing like a small Japanese village in New York in that it seems like everyone seems to be linked. And there are additionally some good societies that introduce Japanese tradition to People, just like the Japan Society and Japanese American Affiliation of New York.

18. Are there any Japanese dishes that you just can’t discover in New York? Actual tonkotsu (pork bone) ramen. There’s no genuine and inexpensive tonkotsu ramen in New York. Lately, even in Fukuoka, you may solely discover genuine tonkotsu ramen at very particular eating places. It’s a disgrace.

19. What do you miss about Japan? Konbini (comfort shops) and exquisite temples.

20. Do you’ve any suggestions for Princess Mako when she involves New York? She may not have a lot freedom in Japan. So, locations in New York like Central Park, Coney Island, or wherever New Yorkers simply reside their day by day lives, these can be good. I hope she is ready to take pleasure in regular on a regular basis life in New York.

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