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 "When I was watching the videos with Karpin I thought: “Wow, he’s a tough guy” and it’s true"

- How did you come up to move to Russia?

- I was thinking about going to Europe and trying myself there. Me and my agents we were looking for the right club for me. Then, one day I found out that Rostov is interested in me – so I started talking to my agent about it. My agent told me that it’s a really good step for me to take in my career. So of course I took a little pause to think it over and weigh all ups and downs – it didn’t take long though, I knew from the start I wanted to be there.

- Did you consulate with anyone before the transfer?
-I didn’t – my agents did. I knew Rostov was very interested and I had all the information I needed to make the decision. The other details were mostly on my agents.
 
- How did FC Rostov manage to convince you to join them?
-I saw some matches of Rostov and I immediately liked the playing philosophy of Karpin and his team. Rostov showed itself as a club with a very high-level team and very interesting approach to football playing. I also saw the League level – it seemed really high and now I can confirm it is high. So I was watching and thinking: “Yeah, this is where I want to challenge myself, I’m sure I can do it”.
 
- What scared you the most about moving to Russia?
-I didn’t know much about Russia. Imagined it scary though – strong big men, smokers everyone, cold climate…luckily, people are very kind and its not cold here, at least now. People tell me I am lucky we are in the south of Russia, haha. My family was really worried because I went here alone and they didn’t know anything about Rostov either. They miss me a lot, but they are not worried any more – we talk everyday on the phone. Hopefully, when the situation allows, I will bring them here so they can see our beautiful stadium and the love our supporters give us every match.

After your moving to Rostov, the club launched some social media accounts in Japanese. Was it a surprise for you?
- I loved it! I was really surprised. I’m very happy that Japanese supporters can follow me and the Club! I think it’s a very good move for the club – a lot of new fans and supporters from Japan, our people love football.

- They say it is much easier to get to the Japanese national team if you play in a European club. Was it important for you when moving to Rostov?
- Well, it’s not quite true even though almost all players in our national team are from European leagues. I can’t say it’s easy though – you must work really hard and prove that you’re one of the best in your position to get a place there. Even if you play in European League but you’re simply not good enough – there’s no way you get a place in the national team. Of course, it wasn’t a reason why I moved to Rostov – my ambition to play in Europe and find a new challenge.

- When you were leaving FC Tokyo, your teammates rocked you in their arms. Considering the fact that you are still very young, why did they show you such respect?
- FC Tokyo is a very big and friendly family. I played there very long time – 9 years. There is only one player who played longer than me – Mori Shige. So I cant say I’m a legend but I have a long history with this club. I started there when I was 10 years old. I’m 27 now – that makes it 17 years long story. This club is forever in my heart and I’m happy I am part of its history.
 
- Did you ask Keisuke Honda or Takuma Nishimura for advice before moving to Russia? Do you know these players personally?
- I did talk to Takuma Nishimura – he was very helpful. He said Russian League is high quality and the language is very difficult to learn. He said he liked it here – Russian life even though it is very different from Japanese. And yes, he was right. It is very different – but I like it here.
 
- In your career you have played in many positions, except for the central forward. Is it possible to say that you’re just a great universal player?
- Haha, that’s a good question. Did I really not play central forward? I need to fix this as soon as possible. I think that positions in the pitch are important, but in the end it’s a game where 10 field players face another side with 10 players and they have to beat them. Every position I played in gave me a little bit more of understanding of the game and of course more confidence. Of course there’s always room for improvement for me in every position – somewhere I played better, somewhere I could have done better. I’m sure Karpin knows better what my strongest point is and he is going to squeeze every possible drop of use out of it. My task now is only listen to what he says and stick to those things.
 
- Your main position on the pitch is a defensive midfielder, but it seems that FC Rostov's coach puts you a little higher on the pitch. Is it comfortable for you?
Completely. As I said, the coach knows better. But I am absolutely comfortable with this 
position.

- What does Valery Karpin usually ask you to perform on the pitch? Does he highlight any special tasks for you, for instance, to attack or to defense?
- It’s a whole theory session you’re asking me about hahah. Of course, he reminds me about my actions in the pitch – both in attack and defense, he also tells me if there should be made some change to the initial plan that we had. Basically, those are things he says to each of us before or during the match. Sometimes if he sees that there’s something I shouldn’t be doing – he will show me a video of this episode and will ask my opinion, if I think that was a best possible decision. Then he will explain what could have been done and why it could have been better for the team. He’s very professional in tactics, there are no small things for him because he says “small things are crucial in football”. I can learn plenty of things from him.
 
- Valery Karpin is a legendary coach in Russia. It is interesting to know the opinion of someone who was not previously familiar with him. What 3 main points that differ Karpin from the people you worked before with?
- Every coach is a human, in the first place, and humans are all different. Of course I learnt a lot about him when I knew I was going to Rostov – his Spanish career, Russian National Team performances and etc. When I was watching the videos with him I thought: “Wow, he’s a tough guy” and it’s true. He’s a tough guy – discipline is in the first place here and it’s a rule for everyone – doesn’t matter if you’re a staff member, coach or a player – you have to follow the rules. Another thing which struck me – his attention to details. He’s very careful with details, especially in our theory meetings. I mean there’s no way you can cut corners in the trainings or in the official match – he will see that and in the theory you will have to answer some really hard questions haha. And one more thing that sets him aside – his incredible sense of humour. He’s very funny and loves to have fun when time permits. Tricky questions and jokes are all about him. He’s a very openminded person – and I think that’s a recipe for success, because people want to work in a good atmosphere.
 
- What is unique about FC Rostov's style?
- That’s a hard one. I don’t know if we have a really unique style. Truth be told, we only try our best to do good in the pitch. We have coaches who prepare us for the match, we have a plan given to us by the head coach. I think our task here is to stick to it as much as it is possible.
 
- Have you heard that FC Rostov fielded its U-17 team against PFC Sochi A-team due to some COVID-19 issues?
- I think it was quite a sensation in the world of football. I read about it. I think it was good experience for the boys – I’m sure they didn’t like the match and in future will do their best not to have the same score again. However, I think Rostov was in a trap – main team was quarantined, covid numbers in Russia were on the rise. Very unlucky for us.
 
- Where do you live in Rostov?
- I live in the center, in a block of flats. I have quite a spacious apartment – I love big flats. The place is good – I have shops, gym, parks and places to walk all near me.
 
- Any complications in everyday life?
- Not at all. Of course, I don’t know the language very well – and usually I have to call our translator or use mobile apps, but normally I don’t have many problems. Life in 21 century is pretty similar in all parts of the world – you download the app, tap a couple of buttons, wait five minutes and here you are – your food is waiting for you at the doorstep. Same with clothes and any other goods you need.
 
- Let’s talk about food. What do you usually eat?
- Normally I eat at the base in Rostov – they give us every meal every day and the menu is rather different so you never get annoyed. But if I eat out I eat a lot of different cuisines – life is short, you need to try all the food. As it turns our Japanese cuisine is popular here in Russia, especially sushi. In Rostov I’ve visited several Japanese places – each has its ups and downs, but what I remember is Miso Soup in one restaurant in Rostov. I remember it gave me “Ofukuro no aji” feeling. That means “Mom’s taste”. It was delicious, just like in Japan. I also love Russian cuisine. I have arrangement with my friends from the team to go try blinchiki s ikroi and Ukranian or Russian Borsch. I think Russians are good at cooking – they have a lot of delicious meals.
 
- Have you already found a spot on sushi restaurant?
- Sushi -not really. Sushi is a real art in Japan. But I found some other Japanese and Asian cuisine restaurants in Rostov.
 
- What is the most unusual dish you've tried in Russia?
- Oh. Difficult question. I think the most unusual is yet to come. I am sort of a foodie – I like trying new things, especially from other cultures. So far I can’t say I have eaten something really unusual. People tell me I should try okroshka. I will hahah.

- Nishimura is keen on buckwheat, how about you?
- Yes, it's quite interesting. I can’t say I’m a fan of it but I eat it from time to time.

- Is it okay for you to live here with no Asian food and tea? Have you already found a way to get some necessary groceries from Japan?
- I haven’t found the way yet but I wasn’t looking for it yet haha. I think when I need it the club will help me to find how to get things here.

- Were you afraid to go to Russia because Russia has one of the highest infection rates with COVID-19?
- Not really. It depends a lot on individuals and their behavior – so I figured if I’m smart and careful enough – I’ll be able to avoid getting infected anywhere. I use my selfprotection means like mask, gloves, sanitizers and try to avoid crowded places. So far so good haha.
 
- How did Japan go through pandemic?
- It was pretty much the same like in the whole world. Selfisolations and closures of public places. Japanese people took it seriously from the very start so we could minimize the damage. Of course it’s hard for any country, but I think we will only see the real damage in the long run.
 
- What was scarier – 2020 pandemic, 2019 flood or 2011 earthquake and the Fukushima accident?
- Each of them left a certain scar on the world and our nation in particular. I think the flood and Fukushima were very scary. There was a lot of heartache in the whole country. People were losing their loved ones and their homes. Those are very unhappy pages of our history.

- How did you survive 2011 earthquake?
- In Tokyo, where I lived, the earthquake was not so strong that I didn't feel the danger for my life. However, the subway became unusable and there was some impact here and there all over the city.

- Have you travelled to Fukushima after the earthquake? Have you ever been to the exclusion zone?
- I have been there. The area near my grandparents' house was severely damaged. I visited the place and saw the elementary school collapsed and the bridge collapsed. Many flowers have been placed because many people have died. It was a very deserted place and a lot of heartbreaking views.

- Can you make a top5 must-do when you visit Japan?
- When you come to Tokyo, you will be famous for the Asakusa shrine, the scrambled intersection in Shibuya, the cityscape of Ginza and delicious sushi. Other than Tokyo, there are many delicious foods in Kyoto / Nara shrines and temples, Okinawa beaches, Hokkaido and Fukuoka prefectures, and ramen is especially famous.
 
- Russia has right side traffic here for the vehicles. Did you have any problems with this after your move here?
- No car no problem haha. Not really, I just look both ways before crossing the road and I don’t have a car here. The taxis are quite cheap and good, so I always use them.

- You have a dog. Did you take it here from Japan? If not, is it difficult to live without it here?
- I love my dog so much that I miss him. I have my parents sending me photos every day.

- I saw you go fishing sometimes. Tell us about this hobby. Are you planning to go fishing in Rostov?
- I really enjoy fishing so I hope I will get a chance to fish here, in Rostov. People talk a lot that the place is perfect for fishing, with a lot of really delicious fish in the river. I think when we get some days off I’m going to ask the boys in the team where is the best place – I know we have some fishermen on the squad.

- There are many stereotypes about Japan. I will tell you about the most popular ones and you please tell me if they are true, with real life examples please. — Japanese people are very disciplined and hardworking.
- There are a lot of people who are very very serious, hardworking and fully dedicated to their job or studies, but of course not everyone, just like everywhere I think.
 
- It is very clean in the streets. You can walk in white socks and they will be clean after street.
- Yes, this is truth. Our streets in the city are very clean. We don’t have any garbage there and they are regularly washed. So if anyone is ever to go to Japan – you can try this “white socks challenge”.

- Japanese only eat rive and sushi. They only use chopsticks.
- Of course not only rice and sushi, but mostly haha. Using chopsticks is a must, people might think you’re uneducated person if can’t eat with chopsticks. Of course you can eat sushi with your bare hands (like I do sometimes), then nobody will ever know you can’t use chopsticks.

- Japanese don’t speak English.
- Not many people can speak it at all, even less speak it well. That’s true.

- Japanese adore Anime.
- Of course we do. It comes from childhood – we love it because we were watching it as kids, I also as watching a lot of it. There are also many world masterpieces which are adored by the whole world.
 
- Sake is the most popular alcoholic drink.
- Well…the problem is sake is the name of all alcoholic drinks in Japan – wine, vodka, rum, whatever…

- Sumo is the most popular sport in Japan.
- Well, I don’t know honestly. I don’t think it is the most popular sport in Japan, but people love it because it’s a traditional sport in Japan, from ancient times. Also it’s really exciting to watch!

29.09.20 Пресс-служба ФК Ростов

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