In order to strengthen the relationship between the State of Michigan and Shiga Prefecture, Shiga sends visiting government officials to work in Michigan. These officials are a tremendous help to JCMU, providing support towards the operation and facilitation of our various programs and activities. We reached out to Michihito Hasegawa, who recently took over as the Shiga visiting official, and asked him what his life in Michigan has been like so far.
Can you please introduce yourself?
My name is Michihito Hasegawa. Please call me “Mitch”. I came from Shiga Prefecture, Japan. Shiga Prefecture and Michigan have a sister state relationship, so I came to help strengthen our states’ ties with each other. This includes promoting the Michigan-Shiga High School Exchange that JCMU now helps run. In addition to this, the Lansing and Otsu (the capital of Shiga Prefecture) have a sister city relationship, and I would like to help foster growth between these two great cities.
When did you first arrive in Michigan?
I work as a secretary to the governor of Shiga. I came to Michigan last June, so this is my second time here. Last year, I was touched by how well the Michiganders treated me, so I wanted to come back.
What will you be doing during your stay in Michigan?
I have a lot to do, but first I am working to help make the Michigan-Shiga High School Exchange possible. Second, I want to promote economic development between our two states. We have to enhance the Shiga-Michigan relationship and make it broader and multi-faceted by introducing each other’s cultures, economies, and so on.
How has your time in Michigan been thus far?
I have been very busy thus far!
How has life differed in America compared to Japan?
While living in Japan, I am with family, but here I am alone. Therefore, I have to worry about cooking for myself – which has led me to buying a lot of junk food! It has gotten a little easier since I purchased a rice cooker. Additionally, it is hard for me to drive in Michigan since we drive on the opposite side of the road in Japan.
What surprised you the most about life in Michigan?
Last year, I was so surprised to find out that many people had their own lawns! They were very beautiful, with some even having gardens. In Japan, very few people have their own lawns, so it was very shocking for me. I was also surprised by how trash was thrown away in Michigan. In Japan, trash must be recycled and different types of garbage can only be thrown away during certain days of the week, but in Michigan you can throw everything away in the same bin!
What would you say to other Japanese people looking to study or work in Michigan?
Don’t be afraid! Take a chance!
JCMU would like to thank Mitch for taking the time to speak with us, and we look forward to working with him further in the years to come! If you would like more information about Mitch’s work, please visit the Consulate-General of Japan in Detroit’s website.