An interesting story was recently published on LRT.lt about Javier Hashimoto, whose Instagram profile says: “Myliu Lietuvą” (“I love Lithuania”). He is an Argentinian-born Japanese design engineer who came to live in Lithuania almost by chance but says he has no plans to leave anytime soon. He has lived in Lithuania for over seven years, during which time he has learned to speak Lithuanian “su daug klaidų” (with a lot of mistakes), he says. He is a design engineer at Teltonika Telemedic, a company that designs and manufactures health equipment, such as smart medical wristbands and artificial lung ventilators.
Javier was born in Argentina to a Japanese immigrant family. The parents gave their son and two daughters Spanish names and spoke only Spanish to them, which Javier considers his native language. “My parents were first-generation immigrants. They felt ashamed of not speaking perfect Spanish, so at home, we only spoke Spanish. It happens a lot with first-generation immigrant parents because they want you to integrate as much as possible,” he explains.
After finishing high school, Javier studied industrial design. He later realized that there was little work for an industrial designer in Argentina, which “was still an agricultural country”. As such, he applied for a scholarship to study transportation design at Chiba University in Japan.
During his studies, Javier had a chance to intern at such well-known Japanese car companies as Honda, Nissan, and Toyota. There, he notes, he faced the gruelling Japanese work ethic, which he did not like.
After his studies, he chose a slower-paced job at the cycling components manufacturer Shimano in Osaka. At that time, he met a Lithuanian girl. They married and had their first child. He realized he wasn’t spending any time with him because of work and started looking for job opportunities within his company in other countries, and decided to move to Germany, which was also much closer to Lithuania and his wife’s family.
However in Germany Javier had to change his career and became a sales manager, which required him to travel every week. By that time, he and his wife also had a second child.
He was still working constantly. He quit, and they decided to move to Lithuania in 2016.
In Lithuania Javier planned to open his own design company, but had to wait two years to start the business. Then the Covid pandemic began and the design company was forced to close.
Although Javier and his wife divorced, he is planning to stay in Lithuania for his three children, aged 11, 9, and 7, who live with him half of the time. He has been working at Teltonika Telemedic since 2020 and says that he is finally satisfied with his job, which allows him to work on long-term meaningful projects.
Even though it seems that Javier lives in Lithuania almost by necessity, he reveals that his love for the country is real. Asked about what he likes most about Lithuania, he does not hesitate – nature. During holidays, he stays in Lithuania because summers there are perfect, he says, with everything in close proximity, he goes camping, cycling and swimming with his children.
He notes that winters in Lithuania are also not bad if you make sure to put on extra layers and change your car tires in time. The winter darkness, however, is something foreigners must learn to cope with. “Taking vitamin D in winter is a must.” He says he also likes people in Lithuania because they are “authentic”, although this quality is often taken for grumpiness.
“Of course, people here are not like in Argentina, where everyone is like ‘hi, I’m your friend’, which doesn’t mean anything because you met the guy at a bus stop,” Javier says. “Here, there are more layers to a friendship. My best friend is a Lithuanian guy.”
According to him, learning about Lithuanian history also helps foreigners understand Lithuanian people better.
“I went to the Occupation Museum in Vilnius, and once you go there, you realise that people suffered so much. You learn about partisans and how the people fought for their freedom. You hear all these bad things about Lithuanians and then you go there, and you understand everything,” Javier says.
“So, for any foreigner, I would recommend two things: visit the Occupation Museum and learn the Lithuanian language at Vilnius University, which is not expensive, and has world-class teachers,” he shares.
Javier himself has finished several language courses and now tries to speak Lithuanian as much as possible.
“With my colleagues, I speak Lithuanian. I push myself to do that and I just don’t care if I make a lot of mistakes, which I do. But I think with time, I will get better and better. After all, I’m learning Lithuanian in the best place in the world,” he smiles.
According to him, although learning Lithuanian is not easy, there are also unexpected benefits to it: “When I go to the market and talk to the grandmas in Lithuanian, it makes them so happy. They always say, ‘you speak Lithuanian, here, take another tomato’.”