I Miss Rakija, Wine, and a Variety of Meat Cuisine Served in Beautiful Serbian Nature

Former Ambassador of Japan to Serbia, H.E. Katsumata Takahiko, now serves as the ambassador to Türkiye. He remembers days when he was a citizen of Belgrade and sent us a warm postcard from Ankara to revoke these days in our capital
A park next to my residence in Ankara

What have you been doing since you left Belgrade?

Two months have passed since I left Belgrade at the beginning of May this year. Because of my love for Serbia, it was not easy for me to move to another diplomatic destination, although I knew it was a ”destiny“ for diplomats. I am now in Ankara, the capital of Türkiye, where I spent almost ten years in my previous assignments. Fortunately, like the relationship between Japan and Serbia, we have been enjoying a long-standing friendship with Türkiye. My urgent mission is to facilitate continuous support to the southeast region seriously damaged by the devastating earthquake in February. I have visited the suffering region to encourage the local people and elaborate on Japan’s support program. As Japan and Serbia did, we have been strengthening our ties with Türkiye, especially in such difficult times. In my personal time, I am enjoying running around my residence in Ankara.  In Belgrade, my weekend routine was jogging in Hyde Park or Ada to shape up my body which was well-nourished with rich Serbian foods. It seems that I need to continue this practice in Ankara due to the attractive and high-calorie foods in Türkiye (“Kebap,” “Baklava,” etc.).

Broken city of Hatay Province –earthquake

What and who do you miss the most from Serbia?

Yes, I am already starting to feel a loss of Serbia. What I am missing the most is my friends and the people of Serbia. My first impression of the Serbs was a physical gap between us. I had to keep my head upward to greet you, even though my height was more than the average of Japanese men. However, more importantly, I was so impressed with the very friendly statements and attitude of the Serbian people toward Japan. They never forget Japan’s support when Serbia faced many difficulties after the late 1990s, which was symbolically mentioned by the donation of “Yellow Buses” to Belgrade.

Another love for Serbia is going to its wonderful nature and culture. Wherever I visited, locals welcomed me with much hospitality and were attracted by the historical town architecture with the Serbian Orthodox churches. Rakija, wine, and a variety of meat cuisine served in beautiful nature were one of my highlights in Serbia.

Upon this opportunity, let me thank all embassy staff who warmly supported me in Belgrade. Also, I wish all the best for Serbia and its people! Hvala Serbiji!

Jogging course in Ankara with Serbian Tokyo Olympic Uniform

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