TOKYO -- A Canadian actor, model and TV reporter based in the Tokyo suburban city of Machida has opened up to the Mainichi Shimbun about his strong interest in Japan, the charm of Machida as well as his recent reporting work.
Kyle Card, 32, first visited Japan at the age of 20 to take part in an exchange program at J.F. Oberlin University in Machida. The experience made him grow particularly fond of Japan -- although he had already been interested in the country since childhood.
How did Card first become interested in Japan?
Watching the anime film "Akira" on TV aged 6 had a huge impact on the entertainer. "Japanese anime is amazing," he thought. Later, during high school, he became friendly with a Japanese exchange student, and began to study Japanese.
At the age of 20, during his second year at Thompson Rivers University in Canada, Card came to Japan for the first time as an exchange student. He stayed with a host family in Machida, studying at J.F. Oberlin University for a year, taking part in float-carrying events and immersing himself in Japanese culture.
Upon returning to Canada and graduating from university, Card worked as a salesman and as a gardener, but something was lacking in his life. So he decided to return to Japan -- doing so in February 2011. About a month later, the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami occurred.
Card recalls going to an audition that day, with the train station he was in turning pitch black as a result of the disaster. His family in Canada urged him to return home, but he decided to stay in Japan.
Why did he choose to stay?
Card explains that going home on his own, under those serious circumstances, would have been selfish. He felt a duty to stay in Japan, especially given that the country was in such trouble.
Does he still live in Machida?
His fellow models say, "You should live in central Tokyo," but he adores Machida. It's compact, and everything is available. There's also an abundance of nature, as well as traditional stores and delicious noodle (ramen) restaurants. Card likes returning there after a hectic day buzzing around the capital with work. When he gets back to Machida, his stress evaporates.
In February, the entertainer took part as a panelist in an urban development symposium run by the Machida Municipal Government. He discussed with architects and academics about how to promote the city to visitors.
Card believes that a key part of city promotion is the sentiment of the local residents. If someone from a certain area says the coffee is great in a certain store, then one feels inspired to try it. If local residents are happy, then positive information will emerge from that place, enticing people to visit the place themselves for sightseeing. Increasing residents' fondness for their local area is important.
Lately, he appears in TV programs to introduce Japan to the world
NHK runs an "NHK World" program that introduces tourist sites in English in areas such as Tokyo, Hokkaido, and Kyushu. Such programs receive wide feedback from all over the world. Being told "I want to go there" by a viewer is a very pleasing moment. Card feels that telling the world about Japan is a worthwhile thing to do.
The scope of roles he plays in dramas and films have been expanding. Previously, roles he played were limited to soldier characters but last year a role in a production about a Japanese trading company came up.
Looking ahead, Card believes that the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics will further open up Japan to the world, leading to greater interaction -- something that the Canadian entertainer is very keen to be involved in.
(Japanese original by Eimi Igarashi, Machida office)