Interview with the Consuls 001 “Diplomat from the Land of Smiles” – Royal Thai Consulate-General, Osaka
Thailand is a Buddhist country located in Southeast Asia with the polulation of 65 million. What comes to mind when you hear “Thailand”? There are many things you might connect with Thailand such as Tom yum goong, Muay Thai, Thai massage, etc. Everyone knows Thailand. But probably not many of you know where Royal Thai Consulate-General, Osaka is located.
Country of the City of Angels
It is 1 minute walk from Sakaisuji Honmachi Station of Osaka Metro. Located at the crossing on the Sakaisuji Street, it looks like an ordinary office building like many others found in this area. What makes a difference is the brillliant national emblem at the entrance.
Entering under the sign of Bangkok Bank on the first floor of the building, we were ushered to the 5th floor after ID check. What we found there was a room full of Thailand!
The national flag and glittering ornaments. On the wall are photographs of Consul-Generals that have served in Osaka. Also we recognized the image of the Thai King who has been in a close friendly relationship with the Japanese Royal family.
The door opened. Someone came in and greeted us in a cheerful tone — It’s Mr. Munin Paniswasdi, Consul-General, accompanied by Mr. Panuwat Prommanon, Consul. They seemed very nice and mindful to others, which makes us think that all Thai people are like them. (Actually every Thai I have met is very nice so far.)
Well, there was something I had always wanted to ask them. That is …
Is it true that “Bangkok” is NOT the capital of Thailand?!
Bangkok is generally known as the name of the capital. However, local people do not call their capital “Bangkok” as it is a name used among non-locals.
Mr. Panuwat Prommanon once presented the “real name” of the capital in a past event. Could we ask him to present it again here in the consulate?
“I cannot do it anymore! Even among Thai people, only a few can say it in full!”
Answered Consul. Well, you cannot blame. It is a super long name actually! I looked it up in Wikipedia and it turned out as follows:
Krungthepmahanakhon Amonrattanakosin Mahintharayutthaya Mahadilokphop Noppharatratchathaniburirom Udomratchaniwetmahasathan Amonphimanawatansathit Sakkathattiyawitsanukamprasit
It is long!! It is just too long!!!!!
No wonder most locals do not come up with its full name. But how do they deal with it in daily life?
“We just call it in a short way, ‘Krung Thep’.”
That makes sense. If you had to work and answer the phone in the city, telling where you belong to, Krung Thep would be much easier and practical.
By the way Krung Thep means “the City of Angels”. Why the City of Angels? We will leave it to another opportunity.
Thai Festival - the pioneer of cultural festivals
Thai culture is so familiar in Japan that everyone knows the country.
“We promote our countnry by introducing Thai food plus Thai culture. That combination becomes an unforgettable experience. When you visit a foreign country, you enjoy local food while feeling the culture. We make the same thing happen in Japan.”
I see. That’s why Thailand sounds very familiar and close to us.
“Thai Festival is part of our strategy to sell our culture and food. The one in Osaka marks the 16th anniversary in 2018.”
Thai Festival is an annual event that makes you feel as if you were in Thailand. It is held every year in major cities such as Tokyo and Osaka.
“In Osaka Thai Festival, we have more than 50 stalls selling Thai food and crafts. You can also enjoy Thai dance and music. 180 thousand people showed up last year.”
I have been to one of Thai festivals myself — munching on Thai curry and listening to Thai karaoke. I was overwhelmed by the atmosphere. Yes, this happens in Japan. But you must feel as if you were in Thailand. I guarantee.
“We are the pioneer of cultural festivals.”
Now we have a bunch of cultural festivals such as Latin Festival, African Festival, etc. Thailand was the first to start off this tradition.
Thai diplomats' most favored country
What do Thai people think about Japan? (What if they do not like us?!)
“We have a good impression of Japan. Japan is the first country that many Thai diplomats want to go to when they work for embassies ”
It’s great to hear that. Why?
“It is partly because of the history of trade and personal interaction between the two countries, which goes back 600 years. In the era of the Ayutthaya Kingdom, there was a town in Thailand where a group of Japanese people lived already.”
Oh, the town where Nagamasa Yamada lived!
“Nowadays more young Thais are coming to Japan to study and communicate with the young Japanese more often than ever. They seem to like each other. I guess that’s also the reason.”
I agree. Young people are not biased and they become friends easily.
“Especially young people getting scholarship supported by the Japanese government have a good impression of Japan. After graduation they come back to Japan for business and vacations. They talk to other Thais about the nice impression.”
That makes me feel proud but nervous at the same time. Now I will watch out for my behavior.
I spread around knowledge of my country（Munin Paniswasdi）
What do you make much of in communicating with Japanese people?
“Any time, every time I am invited I talk to people and spread around knowledge of my country. In Osaka, University of Foreign Languages has an association of alumni. They hold a reunion for graduates who majored in Thai language. Last time I went there and I talked to them in Thai language.”
Sounds very interesting! I have never heard of a reunion that a consul-general takes part in.
I am alyways amazed by how active Mr. Munin Paniswasdi is. You can see on their website that he has been involved in a number of activities. What drives him to be so active?
“My first task is to make Thailand well known to the Japanese public.
Sometimes we organize even a cultural event such as a flower arrangement for Japanese people to come see and appreciate our culture.
The most important thing is that words spread form the Japanese. If words come from the Japanese themselves they want to believe them.
It is the impression they would get from us.
That’s why I go out and talk with as many Japanese people as possible. “
But there are people who do not have a chance to meet you in said events. What would you recommend them to do if they want to learn more about Thailand?
“This building where the Consulate-General is located, you come here for investment, learning, trading and tourism in Thailand as one-stop service.
Our work is not only saving the Thai community. We also offer service to the Japanese public.
If you are interested in Thailand, please come visit us at Royal Thai Consulate-General, Osaka.”
＊Thai Fetival is held every year in May. See the following for more information: http://www.thaifes.com/
＊You need an appropriate reason and a reservation in visiting Royal Thai Consulate-General, Osaka and relevant facilities.
古賀エリザベス Reiko Erzsebet Koga