At the end of January 2020, an article lauding Japanese efforts and encouragement to the Chinese people made the rounds on social media. In this article, a Japanese youngster shared his impressions of Wuhan and encouraged viewers to visit this dynamic and captivating city when the epidemic is over.
The creator of this video is Miyazaki Kazuki, who completed his undergraduate studies at Waseda University. Currently, Kazuki is part of the 2018 Yenching Scholars cohort at Peking University, with a research concentration in Politics and International Relations. Like many other Japanese people, Kazuki is interested in Chinese classics like Records of the Three Kingdoms and Records of the Grand Historian. Moreover, Kazuki is also passionate about Chinese tourism. Before the outbreak of COVID-19, Kazuki was travelling throughout China, immersing himself in its history and culture.
Kazuki has noticed the growing importance of China in the international arena. Having researched China from Japan, United States and other parts of the world, he argues that "there is a gap between the China I study in China and the China I study in other countries." He believes that with China's increasing clout, it is imperative to understand China and the Chinese and hence the importance of studying in China cannot be underestimated. In the winter of 2015, Kazuki started to learn Chinese in the hopes of becoming able to directly interact with Chinese people and to be able to understand first-hand information from the Chinese media, Chinese books and Chinese lectures.
On August 25, 2018, before he officially began his studies in China, Kazuki wrote a lengthy blog post in response to questions and doubts regarding his decision. On top of the seven well-substantiated reasons, he concluded by stating that whether you like it or not, China will become an important country in the global arena.
Over the past year and then some, Kazuki has learned a great deal from the lectures and field trips at Yenching Academy of Peking University. He believes that even with the Internet and the increased global communication, there are still biases present and this is where he sees the increasing need for face-to-face communication in order to better understand one another. As a scholar under the Asian Future Leaders Scholarship Program (sponsored by the Bai Xian Asia Institute), he has vast opportunities to network and interact with other East Asian youth. Not only do they attend academic discussions, they also get the chance to participate in on-site field trips that help them better understand China and the rest of the world.
To improve China-Japanese relations and dispel stereotypes, Kazuki launched a project dubbed "Middle Kingdom Adventure" on his website and social media such as YouTube and Instagram in 2019. He hopes to build a sustainable peace between the two nations by attracting more Japanese people to visit China through his contents.
Be it on foot, by bike or by car, Kazuki has travelled to various places in China, from the stately Mountain Resort in Chengde to the ancient Grottes in Gobi Desert or from ruins of old empire in the grassland of Inner Mongolia to beautiful waters in the deep mountains of Sichuan.On top of these stunning shots, Kazuki also reflects on the growth story of China by trying to capture the drastic transformation of Shenzhen from a fishing village to a technological powerhouse or Guizhou from an impoverished province to a big-data center of China.
Despite some difficulties in his journey like lack of information, difficult transportation, and inclement weather, Kazuki is persistent in showcasing China to the world. He said, "The more I learn about China, the more I can't understand China" given its vast size and diversity. In fact, it is precisely this thought that keeps him exploring China.
The unexpected epidemic scuttled his travel plans and Kazuki decided to stay in China to witness for himself what was actually happening given the sensational headlines often used by foreign news outlets. On the contrary, watching from the frontlines has allowed him to see the calm response from the Chinese citizens. In fact, he has experienced warm hospitality from the hotel owner as they had allowed him to stay on despite having to shut the business down due to COVID-19.
While Kazuki understands the fear that some people may have towards the virus, he believes that "It's not about nationality, but people." The only way out is to deal with this epidemic rationally instead of falling into the trap of racism.
Kazuki is passionate about forging stronger China-Japanese ties and acknowledges that "a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." With every step that he takes, he becomes more clear-eyes about his objective as he gains a deeper understanding and appreciation of the diversity in China. He is confident that more youth from around the world will take this leap of faith, just as he had done, and to embark on this journey together.