A Japanese decides to retire early to visit Vietnam 10 times a year to unknown areas

Yasushi Ogura (64 years old, a Japanese with a special love to Vietnam, has visited Vietnam as his second hometown during the 25 years.


Falling in love with the amazing nature and culture of the Vietnam’s Lo Lo people, the Japanese guest gradually rekindled the desire to develop a sustainable tourism.

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Mr Yasushi Ogura experiences rice harvest with farmers in Ha Giang

Learn Vietnamese to understand and love

Ogura is different from many others that he does not like touring, but only wants to explore unknown lands. “25 years ago, not many Japanese coming to Vietnam, so I found myself curious to come here,” he recalls.

The traditional markets in Ha Giang’s mountainous region are always bustling and vibrant, especially he found Lo Lo Chai (Dong Van district) interesting to retain the peaceful beauty and uniqueness of the ethnic group culture. “The H’Mong people do not like to exchange, but the Lo Lo people are very easy to get along with.”, he said about his fate to become close with them.

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Ogura has taken his mother to Vietnam three times

The Japanese man determined to learn Vietnamese by himself with the desire to break the language differences. In 2013, he decided to retire early to have more time to visit Vietnam. Since then, each year Mr. Ogura has visited Vietnam 10 times, each lasting about 2 weeks. T

He shared: “The reason I have to go back and forth between the two countries is that I have to take care of my 93-year-old mother at home. I don’t feel comfortable leaving her at home alone for a long time”.

Yasushi Ogura had several times brought Japanese friends to Vietnam, he affirmed: “I firmly believe that everyone going with me will have a lot of experience and a deeper understanding of the culture of ethnic minorities – something never got by traveling in groups ”.

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Ogura and Japanese tourists in Dong Van rocky plateau (Ha Giang)

6 years ago, Ogura met Luc Thi Van (a 42-year-old woman, from Lo Lo) during a visit to Lo Lo Chai. Impressed by the old houses, he offered to open a coffee shop for her own family and explained: “The Lo Lo people should directly do business, because no one can fully understand the local culture as well as the natives”.

The North Pole Coffee Shop, which began operating in 2015, is a foreigner’s dedication to Vietnamese culture and people with much love. He said at that time Lo Lo Chai village had no place for tourists to visit, even many Vietnamese did not even know the Lo Lo ethnic group. It would be a pity if their unique culture would be lost – old walled houses.

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Ogura, Van and the tourist group at the North Pole cafe

Ms. Van expressed her gratitude to the Japanese guest: “Before, I lived by growing maize and growing rice, it was very miserable and hard work. Since the day the North Pole coffee shop existed, my family’s life has been much better. Uncle Ogura invests all the costs to open a shop, teach business, how to serve customers, to keep clean … I just sell and collect money, he doesn’t take any money ”.

The joy of Ogura and Van’s family is to welcome old guests back to the restaurant though the distance must be calculated by hundreds, thousands of kilometers. Perhaps all visitors like the quiet atmosphere as well as the friendliness and hospitality of the Lo Lo residents.

Yasushi Ogura shared: “As long as I am in good health, I will still go to Vietnam. If I cannot go in the future, I will continue to communicate with Vietnamese people living in Japan. I love Vietnam”.