How Bhutan Changed My Life: Tamiki Nakashima


Tamiki Nakashima, who is from Japan, speaks about how life is like for him while living in Bhutan.

Tamiki with his daughter enjoying themselves at Phobjikha. (Source: Tamiki Nakashima)


By Passang Lhamo | Daily Bhutan

I was surprised by the way he replied me in Dzongkha when we called him for an interview on our series "How Bhutan Changed My Life". I asked: "Is this Mr Tamiki?”

Surprisingly, he replied in Dzongkha: “Zhu dho la” (which means yes). For a few seconds, I was dumbfounded, thinking that I had gotten the wrong number.  I could not believe that a foreigner could speak Dzongkha so fluently. Later, when I met him in person, I was pleased to hear him speaking Dzongkha and wearing a gho (Bhutan's national dress). He said he always wore a gho because it’s comfortable.

Meeting Tamiki for the first time and glad to see him wearing a gho.  (Photo: Daily Bhutan)

Past life connection to Bhutan?

Mr Tamiki Nakashima is a Japanese man who takes pride in the Bhutanese culture. He is a social worker based in Thimphu and was sent by a Japanese International Social Welfare Organisation called Bussi-En to Bhutan. His first visit here was in 1996 as a tourist and he didn't speak any English that time. When he first landed in Bhutan, Mr Tamiki said he felt “very comfortable, very close to the land, the people, and the nature in Bhutan”, and he believes it is due to a connection in his past life. 

The 38-year-old has been living in Bhutan for the past nine years and is married to a Bhutanese woman, who is from Mongar, and they have a beautiful daughter too. He lived in Kobe till 23 years old and studied in a university in Kyoto between 1999 and 2003. He then moved to Canada to study English, forestry and natural resource science. He said he wanted to come back to Bhutan to work and live, that's why he went to study in Canada.

Tamiki with his family in Bhutan  (Photo: Tamiki Nakashima)

Speaks and understands Dzongkha and Sharchop

Mr Tamiki can speak Dzongkha fluently and he said he learned the national language from his Bhutanese friends, whom he said treat him like a Bhutanese although they know he is a Japanese. Mr Tamiki said his friends talk to him in Dzongkha or Sharchop most of the time.

As a social worker, he said he has a big mission to be accomplished and that is to achieve real social inclusion through practical actions. Mr Tamiki told us that he would like to dedicate himself to achieve this in Bhutan. 

"Bhutan has brought some changes in me in positive ways. Thus, I would like to repay Bhutan my gratitude. For that I am here to contribute as much as I can" said Mr Tamiki.


Finding it hard to fit into Japan’s society

When asked about his life in Japan, he said "the life there is very speedy and well organised”. "In a way, I appreciate how things are organised there. However, I feel I do not fit into the society due to its speed. I like things to go slowly in a relaxing pace,” said Mr Tamiki, who admitted that he misses the food back home and the way he takes a bath there, soaking his whole body in the bathtub every day. And of course he misses his family: his mom, dad and his elder sister.

Tamiki and his family at Tashi Taj welcoming the Japanese officials in Bhutan. (Photo: Tamiki Nakashima)

Learning about impermanence

"Bhutan mainly changed the way how I see things. Because in Japan, my view was somewhat narrow. The life there is quite busy and we may not have much time to relax fully. Mr Tamiki also said he learned to be “flexible and sensible”.

“However, out here we are much relaxed and in terms of religion, I can see things more in impermanent ways. If someone criticises me, I can still take it in a positive manner because it is impermanent and it is something to reflect on myself as a positive tool to improve myself,” said Mr Tamiki, who is following one of the Rinpoche.

Mr Tamiki claims that the Rinpoche's blessings have changed his way of thinking and the way he sees things. Another thing he learnt while living in Bhutan is how to respect tradition. This was obvious in the way he wears our national dress and being comfortable in it, and also how he managed to learn Dzongkha so quickly. Though he can speak Dzongkha fluently, he said he is still learning the language.

Mr Tamiki meditating at Bumthang Tharpaling (Photo: Tamiki Nakashima)

What happiness means to him

When asked if he is happy living in Bhutan, he replied: “Of course, I am happy here. If not I won't be here (laughs). For him, happiness is being with his family, friends and meeting with new people. Small things like seeing beautiful nature or people passing by also inspires him to be happy. He is passionate about football and used to enjoy playing the game.

With his football team members. (Photo: Tamiki Nakashima)



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