Love in Tokyo is Now Love in Varanasi
Meet the Indo-Japanese couples of Varanasi who speak neither Hindi nor Japanese but the language of Love!
Ashok meets with Asha in Japan and they fall in love. Asha’s uncle wants Asha to marry Pran, but Asha does not like Pran and runs away with Ashok.
1966 box office hit, Love in Tokyo had everything right for Megumi Hisada and Sanjay Kumar Devashish, except that Megumi and Sanjay’s story unfolded in Varanasi not Japan and they never got a chance to sing, Asha Pariekh and Joy Mukharjee starrer Saaonara for each other.
Love at First Sight
Megumi Hisada of Japan came to Varanasi in 2001 to learn sitar. She soon met Sanjay, who then ran an audio CD and cassette shop. That they were in love was a realisation, both had fallen at almost the same time, but what Sanjay was not sure of was how long this would last.
I liked her a lot but it was Megumi who confessed to her love first. I knew she loved me, but I was not sure how long this love would sustain the differences of language and culture.Sanjay Kumar
Megumi barely understood Hindi and English was alien to Sanjay, but together they spoke the language of love.
“He asked me to meet his family and for two months I visited them regularly. It was a huge joint family and I almost everyday goofed up with names and relations. I wanted to impress his mom, but we ate different food and she could never understand my language. It was the toughest time of my life.”
After multiple efforts of testing their love and futile attempts to convince Megumi’s parents in Japan, the duo got married in 2003. Sanjay and Megumi now run a famous Japanese food restaurant in Varanasi.
Reports suggest that out of all the foreigners who come to Varanasi, Japanese top the list in marrying Banarasis!
Mind Mates forever
Aiko Sugimoto came to India in the early 1990s and instantly fell in love with Varanasi. In 1997 he enrolled himself at Banaras Hindu University to study Hindi. To earn some extra bucks and get to know his surroundings, he thought of teaching Japanese to other students at the University. It was then that he met his wife Rachita for the first time.
When you fall in love you fall in love. Love sees no country, no boundary, but yes with her I experienced endless shades of Varanasi. In Japan everything is systematic, organised, predictable. You rarely disalign from the track. In Varanasi everybody has his own track! The freedom to do whatever, whenever, wherever mesmerised me.Aiko Sugimoto
Aiko and Rachita got married in 2002. For Indians who fall in love with the athitis the reasons for getting hooked are equally enlightening.
“Aiko comes from a society that is probably not divided in class and caste the way Indians are. He mingles with everybody flawlessly. There are no inhibitions in his mind in talking to anybody or eating with them. Sometimes I feel small within, on my social conditioning. I really look up to him.”
The Coy and the Carefree Made a Couple
62-year-old Sasaki Kumiko, the Japanese bahu of a Bengali family, is now more proficient in the language than a new age Bengali babu. Sasaki, known as Kumiko Gangopadhyay to the Japanese community of Varanasi, married Shanti Ranjan Gangopadhyay, the famous painter from Varanasi.
He came to Tokyo for an art exhibition and used to cross from our shop almost daily. In those days Japanese culture was very protective, and so were my parents for me. I fell in love with his care free nature and spontaneity. We got married in 1976, and I left Japan forever.Sasaki Kumiko
Sasaki now runs a Japanese guest house on the banks of the Ganges in the heart of the city.
“Most Indo-Japanese couples in Varanasi either run a resturant or a guest house. We crave to meet our people from Japan, talk in our language and know about the country. This is our way to stay connected with Japan. I do miss my country, but this city has given me my true love.”
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