Appreciate Happiness ブータン・ブログ

    ブータン政府で首相フェローとして働いた日本人のブログ。Bhutan Blog by a Japanese worked as Bhutan Prime Minister's Fellow.


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    ついにブータン到着!Arrived at Bhutan!

    Finally I arrived at Bhutan on Thursday! I took Druk Air, the airline of Bhutan, from Bangkok. The plane departed Bangkok at 6:50am (Bangkok time), and arrived at Paro, Bhutan at 10:15am (Bhutan time. It's 11:15am in Bangkok time). On the way, the plane stopped at a town in India for about 20 minutes for some passengers to get off.



    During the flight, a Bhutanese guy next to me talked to me in Dzongkha, the local language. He thought I was a Bhutanese from my appearance. It is said that Bhutanese people look like Japanese, so it was not a big surprise. I was kinda happy to be recognized as a Bhutanese. Anyway, my face is always mistaken to be locals' in other Asian countries such as Korea and China.

    They are performers of Bhutan's folk music. They went to Taiwan to perform.

    Even the duty free magazine is named "Happiness." lol

    I couldn't get the window seat on the left side, from which we could see beautiful Himalayan mountains. But I saw beautiful rice field from the window on the right side.
    From airplane 1

    From airplane 2

    And finally I landed at Bhutan! The first thing I found was the beautiful airport buildings in traditional style.

    The sky is so blue...I've never seen this blue in Japan or other countries.

    The pictures of the kings welcomed us. The first king is on the left, and the current 5th king is on the right. They are all handsome!

    The ad of Bhutan Telecom is saying "Welcome to the land of GNH."

    The officers at the immigration wear traditional clothes, Gho. The law in Bhutan requires people to wear the traditional clothes. Bhutan appeals its uniqueness one after another since the very first moments of arrival!

    The road from the airport to Thimphu, the capital city, is a winding road along small mountains.

    The houses are built in traditional style and scattered. Very different from Japan where houses are built densely. The population in Bhutan is about 700,000, so no wonder the density is different.

    Welcome to Thimphu! It is about 1-hour drive from the airport.

    The first thing to welcome me in Thimphu was the Buddhist stupa called Chorten. Bhutan is a very dedicated Buddhist country.

    There is a construction boom in Thimphu. The driver lamented that there were beautiful rice fields 10 years ago where hotels and apartments are constructed now.

    The government found me a very nice house to live. The landlord families live next to my house, and they grow a lot of fruits and vegetables organically in the garden. They welcomed me with their apples :)

    The colleagues my age welcomed me at the house and drove me to go shopping. They speak English fluently and are very friendly. The first day in Bhutan went very happily, seeing traditional culture and great nature supported by the GNH policy, and feeling great hospitaly of Bhutanese people. I look forward to the year ahead in Bhutan!
    2011/08/26(金) 02:02:38 ブータン一般 (Bhutan in general) Trackback::0 Comment::4

    パパラギ:「開発」は何を目指すべきか?What should "Development" aspire to?

    最近読んだ「パパラギ - はじめて文明を見た南海の酋長ツイアビの演説集」という本は、ブータンへ赴任するにあたって非常に大切な視点を与えてくれました。

    The book I recently read, The Papalagi, gave me an important insight before going to Bhutan.


    This book issued in 1920 contains speeches given by a Samoan chief named Tuiavii to his fellows about his trip to Europe. He criticizes acutely the way of life in European civilization. "Papalagi" refers to Europeans, or people living in developed countries.

    Let me make some extracts (Sorry about my poor translation!)


    Papalagi's cottages are made of stones, and formed in rigid boxes.
    Most of cottages accomodate as many families as a village in Samoa could have.
    The families live with only a wall in between, but they don't know each other at all.
    They don't know even others' name. Even when they pass each other, they just bow hesitantly or greet with angry voices. They seem not happy at all about living together.


    Papalagi says, "This palm tree is mine."
    He says so because the tree grows in front of his cottage as if he had raised the tree himself.
    The tree is of nobody. The great nature raised it.
    Papalagi who owns 100 mattings does not give even 1 matting to those who do not own. He even blames the one for not owning anything.
    The great nature does not want someone to own too many things.

    「パパラギがとりわけ好きなのは、手には持てないけれど、そこにあるもの - 時間である。

    Papalagi particularly like what they don't own but there is - Time.
    Papalagi are never satisfied by time. They complain to their god - "Why don't you give more time to me?"
    One Papalagi got upset, turning his face red and blue when his maid came late a little bit.
    "You stole my time a lot! You are not worth living if you don't treasure time."
    He kicked out the maid by shouting the words.
    I want to tell them that one human being has plenty of time from sunrise to sunset that he/she cannot even use up.


    The words by the chief Tuiavii question the direction of civilization we in developed countries pursue without much doubts.


    I studied Development at MSFS (Master of Science in Foreign Service) at Georgetown University. This book reminded me the question my professor raised at the first meeting of the class, Development Orthodoxes.

    その教授は、経済発展段階に応じた「低開発国、発展途上国、先進国(Underdeveloped, Developing, Developed)」というカテゴリーを黒板に書き出し、「果たして開発の道は、このように単純に一直線のものなのだろうか?」と問いました。

    The professor wrote the different status of development on the white board, "Underdeveloped, Developing, Developed." and asked "Is Development path unilinear?" He questioned if the path of development is as simple as these categories can classify.
    He did not give us an answer. I thought he was expecting the students to continue thinking about this question even after graduation.


    In the arena of Development, we often target raising the standard of living in underdeveloped and developing countries to the level in developed countries, having poverty alleviation as the ultimate goal. However, pursuing this target always involves the risk of negative consequences of globalization, which is to push American/Western way of living and destroy the indigenous and traditional culture.


    Bhutan's past policy to close the country to foreign influence and distance from simplified modernization has something similar to the attitude of the Samoan chief.
    Even Bhutan is now facing rapid modernization centered in the capital, Thimphu. The country seems to be at the turning point of development, trying hard to show the alternative way of modernization based on GNH (Gross National Happiness).

    Now China has been degrading environment severely in exchange for the rapid growth. Japan is losing the direction of development. The US and Europe are facing crisis due to the systemic fatigue. Because these developed and emerging countries are struggling now with their traditional approach, I hope Bhutan will succeed in the new way of development ensuring people's happiness.


    In the next 1 year I work in Bhutan, I believe it is important for me not to push the theories of developed countries but support the way Bhutanese people want to pursue.

    I read The Papalagi because the senior Japanese staff at the World Bank, Toshiaki Keicho, recommended the book at his interview. I would love to be like him in the future who can provide advice and mentoring to young professionals interested in development.


    He happens to be in charge of Bhutan in his job, so I have met him in DC and got some advice. I have been reading his blog to learn what he has done and seen in Bhutan.


    I got to know when I was writing this blog that The Papalagi is fictional. Still I believe that the book gives us interesting insights.(Link for English version follows at the end)


    English version available in the US:

    2011/08/20(土) 02:13:07 途上国の開発 (Development in general) Trackback::0 Comment::0

    幸せの定義 How do you define happiness?

    In Bhutan, one of my objectives is to understand how Bhutan defines GNH, Gross National Happiness, and how the country implements policies to promote GNH. There must be some lessons Japan and other countries can learn from Bhutan's approach.


    I traveled in Brazil in July, and encountered a very interesting exhibition related to happiness.
    The exhibition is called "6 billion others."

    The project conducted video interviews with 5000 people in 75 countries, asking the fundamental questions about the family, love, fears, dreams, and happiness.

    The example questions include: "What have you learnt from your parents? What do you want to pass on to your children? What difficult circumstances have you been through? What does love mean to you?"

    One of the questions is "Are you happy? How do you define happiness?"
    Before seeing the others' answers, why don't you try to come up with your own answer?

    Here is the video with answers from all over the world:

    As we can easily see, the definition of happiness varies significantly by individuals. Some think happiness is hardly attainable, and others think they can be happy every day.

    Because everybody has a different idea about happiness, setting happiness as a policy goal is a very challenging task. I think the Bhutan's former King, Jigme Singye Wangchuck, was very brave when he proposed GNH back in 1970s. I will write more about how Bhutan defines GNH under the latest policy as I find it out.

    By the way, I myself think we can be happy every day. I think happiness is largely related to how we perceive life and the world. And I don't deny that material, environmental, and relationship (family, love, friends etc) status would influence the conditions of oneself to perceive happiness.

    The recent experience I felt happiness was when I traveled with my parents to Tohoku. Seeing my dad enjoying Japanese traditional dance and my mom excited by seeing beautiful butterflies and dragonflies made me very happy.

    More information about the exhibition is available in

    他のテーマのビデオを見たい場合は、6bO TESTIMONIESをクリックして、thematic moviesを選んでください。
    You can see the video interviews with other themes by:
    Click 6bO TESTIMONIES, and then thematic movies

    Herewith I attach other interesting themes:
    Theme: Meaning of life (人生の意味)

    Theme: Love (愛)

    2011/08/11(木) 16:29:12 ブータンGNH (Bhutan GNH) Trackback::0 Comment::0