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Samoan woman provides link to Japanese society

A Samoan woman who has lived for 36 years in Japan was the link between a group of traditional Samoan builders and Japanese society.

Esipito Nagakubo, who is from Luatuanuu, told the Samoa Observer that she one day she received a call from an official in Japan who was looking for Japanese-Samoan language translator.

“I received a call from one of the offices in Japan that they need a Samoan who can speak both Japanese and Samoan,'' she said.

Curious about the request by the official, she asked why they needed a translator and she was advised of a group of men, who were heading to Japan to build a fale and could not speak the Japanese language.

Mrs Nagakubo immediately volunteered her service as a translator as hearing of her countrymen’s impending visit made her homesick

“I met them at the airport when they arrived and afterwards took them to where they were staying and every day from then on I would visit them either at where they’re building the Fale or their accommodation,” she said.

Arriving in Japan in the middle of autumn, the Samoan traditional builders caught the flu but were taken care of by Mrs Nagakubo.

“If I am not able to see them then I send my husband or my son to see if they need anything or if they are okay,'' she added.

And with no knowledge of the Japanese language, she became their link with their hosts and assisted them to communicate.

Mrs Nagakubo said the fale that the Samoans built at the Little World Museum of Man near the city of Inuyama in Aichi prefecture, southwest of Tokyo was special.  

“The fale that they build in Japan it is very unique and simple!”

The open-air museum celebrates cultures and architectures from 23 countries and regions, with 32 traditional houses from around the world on display. 

The consumption of Japanese food was also a challenge for the Samoan builders but Mrs Nagakubo addressed that by getting bananas and even taro, which her compatriots appreciated.

She said being able to assist the traditional builders while they were in Japan was an honour for her and she looks forward to hearing more about the group’s work in the future.

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