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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

WORDS TO LIVE BY

Polish journalist-designer-photographers Pawel Musialowski and Malgorzata Gajderowicz


Pawel "Mr. Jedi" Musialowski, 39, and Malgorzata Gajderowicz, 29, are a Polish journalist-designer-photographer, husband-and-wife team who video-blog exclusively about their favorite place on earth: Japan. Pawel created Kawaii, Poland's first magazine dedicated to Japanese manga and anime in 1997, and his website kawaii-mrjedi.blogspot.jp (written in Polish) is a comprehensive gateway to Japan and its culture. Malgorzata's Japan-inspired graphic designs — Seri Design — can be found at seridesign.net, where they can be printed on T-shirts, accessories, stationery and even shoes. Although the two live happily in Wroclav, southern Poland, they truly come alive during the weeks they spend in Japan every spring, when they film their travels around the country to update Mr. Jedi's blog.

News photo
JUDIT KAWAGUCHI

Pawel: Anime can be a doorway to Japan. We both fell in love with Japan because in the 1980s and '90s we could watch Japanese anime and TV shows in Poland. They were great! The TV drama "Oshin" and the "Tora-san" film series were big hits, as were monster movies about Godzilla and Gamera. We loved them! The anime "Science Ninja Team Gatchaman" was one of my favorites. And "Dobutsu Takarajima."

Malgorzata: Japan is easy to fall in love with. It talks to our soul. I loved anime and J-pop first, and I especially liked the rock group X Japan. Next was the kimono. I admired their rich colors and their elegance. The way Japanese use color is magical! For example, pink in Japan appears as subtle and luxurious.

P: The key to Japan's future is anime. There are millions of people like us are all over the world: fans of Japanese manga, anime and music. What gives manga its power is the anime shown on public TV. But sadly, fewer shows are being broadcast in our country. We can't get NHK in Poland, either.

M: There are markets for Japanese goods and products — but they are largely untapped. In Poland we have 20 Japanese subculture events a year and about 5,000 people attend each one. All are organized by Polish fans who work as volunteers because we all love Japan. Many organizers have tried to attract the attention of the Japanese government, cultural agencies and Japanese companies — but no one has shown any interest in us.

P: Fans are the greatest promoters and they do all the work for free. This fact should be a dream for any artist or company! In the '80s, fans in Poland made amazing websites about Japanese culture. They were labors of love, with manga and song lyrics translated into Polish. There was no Wikipedia or YouTube back then, so every tiny piece of information was like treasure. Tragically, Japanese companies and celebrity managers don't understand how this kind of free PR can lead to sales, so they delete everything from YouTube.

M: In Japan, the quality of something is always the same or even better than the images of it. We have traveled to many countries, but only in Japan do we actually get what is advertised. If a Japanese hotel shows a lovely room on its website, we can be sure it'll be as clean and beautiful as the photo, or even better. It's the same for everything else — food, tours, products. Sadly, in other countries, often the photos are nice but the rooms are actually full of roaches and the pool is closed. That never happens in Japan. Japanese are very honest.

P: You know when something is great if it succeeds even without any promotion. When "Sailor Moon" was shown on Polish TV, everyone watched it. There was no promotion but people got so into it.

M: Japanese companies are not aggressive like American or European ones, or Korean or Chinese ones. Those countries don't knock: They break the door down and march into our living rooms with their products. Or they keep ringing the bell, even if their products are poorly made and overpriced. The Japanese are different: Their products and services are the best, yet we have to beg them to sell to us. Japanese are shy to admit how great their products are. We love this quality, but we worry whether Japan can survive if it keeps being so nice.

P: Japan is a great inspiration for Poland. Nobel Peace Prize recipient and our former president, Lech Walesa, encouraged Poland to be the second Japan. We love the Japanese way of thinking. It's not one thing we admire, it's many little things. In Japan we feel like fish in the sea, but everywhere else we are fish out of water. Japan is our sea.

M: Once you get used to great things, it's so hard to live without them. That's why once people visit Japan, they keep coming back, until eventually many decide they want to live here — like us. In Japan we can be who we are, nobody criticizes us here. In Europe, people are conservative and judgmental. Japan is freedom for us. Once we are back in Europe, we miss everything about Japan: the transportation system, the amazing food and service, the vending machines, the safe environment where we can doze off on the subway and know no one will steal from us. Everything is easy, convenient and fun here. In Europe we are always thinking, "In Japan this would be better!" And it is.

P: We knew that if we were ever to marry, it would have to be in Japan. I proposed to her on top of Tokyo Tower. We had the official marriage at the Polish embassy in Tokyo. It was perfect.

Judit Kawaguchi loves to listen. She is a volunteer counselor and a TV reporter on NHK's "journeys in japan." Learn more at: juditfan.blog58.fc2.com. Twitter: @judittokyo.


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