Our Jasper Nation: Daisuke Kuroshima

Daisuke Kuroshima, sophomore biochemistry major, was born in sunny California but remembers a childhood spent on the other side of the world. “Until I was five, I was living in California” Kuroshima said, “But I went to Japan and grew up in Yokohama.”

Even though Kuroshima was born in the United States, Japanese was his first language, and it wasn’t until after high school that Kuroshima learned to speak English.

Yokohama, located just thirty minutes outside of Tokyo, “is one of the biggest port cities in Japan” Kuroshima said, “and we have the American navy in Yokohama.” The presence of the United States Navy is something special for natives of Yokohama.

“We have pride” Kuroshima said, “it’s kind of like New York… people who live in New York say ‘I live in New York,’ you know!” While most people in Japan use prefectures, the forty-seven subdivisions that make up Japan, to describe where they live. In Yokohama, people say the city’s name instead of the prefecture’s name,” said Kuroshima, because of that pride they have in the city.

Photo Courtesy of Daisuke Kuroshima

Although Yokohama is considered a city, compared to New York City, Yokohama is smaller and quainter. “It’s very different… in New York City, they have so many buildings but in Yokohama, especially in my town, we don’t have so many” said Kuroshima, equating Yokohama to a more suburban place, “it’s more like Upstate New York.”

Though Yokohama may be different than New York City, “we have many fun things to do…we have an amusement park… and we have karaoke bars, we have a lot, yes” said Kuroshima. Yokohama is also home to one of the largest Chinatowns in Japan.

When he does return home, the first thing Kuroshima usually does is share a meal with his family, likely eating Japanese sushi. While Kuroshima does enjoy Japanese sushi, “If you go to Yokohama, you should eat ramen and Chinese food because [Yokohama Chinatown is] the biggest in Japan” Kuroshima said.

Though he notes that it might seem strange to travel to Japan for Chinese food – “If you’re planning to go to Japan and want to do something – Yokohama – yes, go eat Chinese food” Kuroshima said.

Other sights to add to a trip itinerary would include Rainbow Bridge and the famous Landmark Tower. For Kuroshima, a perfect day at home includes sleeping in, meeting with friends that live near his home, having lunch, bowling and ending the night with Karaoke. Karaoke in Japan is a main event. “We have whole night programs in karaoke… we have karaoke from 11pm to 5 am!”

Although Kuroshima has enjoyed the entertainment offerings in Yokohama, the place he remembers most fondly is his high school, Iku Bukan. Since his middle school is also located there, it is where so many of his memories and friendships formed. The school also had a host of activities Kuroshima took part in during his time there. “I played Japanese archery, named Kyudo, and I was a member of student council” said Kuroshima “I also played Judo as well,” which is a form of martial arts.

Coming to school in the United States had both significant and subtle differences that Kuroshima noticed. “In American high school you have a king and queen, like in a prom, and it’s a serious thing for them… I didn’t know” Kuroshima said with a laugh, “we don’t have prom!”

Though Kuroshima did not take part in such an event, Japan does have it’s own coming-of-age celebration. The year Kuroshima turned 20, which happened to be in 2015, he was invited to take part in a celebration on the second Monday of January of this year. “I went to a very big stadium and the mayor and governor did a speech to us” Kuroshima said. Fortunately, Kuroshima was able to reconnect with many former classmates at this event, and he was lucky to be back in Japan to take part in it.

According to Kuroshima, the event “is very crazy [and] many people join it.” The event is special because all of the attendees are twenty-year-olds from Yokohama. “In Japan we start school [in] April, so this time, people born from April 1995 to next March can go to the celebration.”

Photo Courtesy of Daisuke Kuroshima

Turning twenty is a significant event in Japan, because it marks the day that a Japanese youth is legally seen as an adult. Newly turned twenty-year-olds are legally able to drink, smoke, and vote and are seen as self-reliant in Japanese culture.

A part of the New York culture that Kuroshima has really enjoyed though, is the arts and entertainment scene. “I like to see musicals and Broadway shows are wonderful” said Kuroshima, explaining that the musicals and shows in Japan often do not compare.

A smaller and less striking difference that Kuroshima has noticed is that Americans often wear shoes indoors. “We don’t wear shoes in the house or room… like for example dormitories, we don’t wear [shoes]” Kuroshima said “some people use [slippers], but most of the people use socks, just socks.” Another difference is the size of living spaces. “The Japanese house is very small… and I don’t know why but usually in America, they have a basement but in Japan we don’t… we should [have] it… I don’t know why but [we] don’t” Kuroshima said.

Though he was born in the United States, it was many years before Kuroshima found his way back. After graduating high school, Kuroshima attended a program at Harvard University in Boston to improve his English. “My high school finished in March and I had free time until June or July” Kuroshima said “[I] went to Boston, and [then] came here.” The year that Kuroshima attended Harvard University’s summer program was the last time it was offered, “so I was very lucky” Kuroshima said.

Kuroshima found his way to Manhattan College specifically by following a legacy. “My father graduated from this school… in 1986…he was school of business” Kuroshima said, adding, “and the funny thing is I have a roommate, named David, and his mother also graduated ‘86” but they didn’t know each other.” Kuroshima’s philosophy professor, Dr. Hashimoto, also taught his father as well.

Though he’s only about halfway through his undergraduate education, Kuroshima already has plans to attend graduate school in New York City. Ultimately, Kuroshima hopes to become a doctor. “I want to stay here [for] ten years or something, but I want to go back after that, maybe live here but I’m not sure. But I want to work here at first,” Kuroshima said.

While spending more time in the big apple seems to be Kuroshima’s future, he admittedly misses his friends and family in Japan. Another thing Kuroshima misses is Manga – Japanese comics. Though Kuroshima could probably start a new Manga collection here “I cannot… it’s too big” Kuroshima said, “if I buy one I want to buy the next one… so I couldn’t buy it here.” If he had the space, and room in his luggage for that matter, “I would want to bring every [Manga].” Kuroshima said.

Time will tell where Kuroshima ultimately ends up – but one thing is for sure – his future is bright.