Hungary ~Magnificent Scenery and Talkative People~

By Tomoaki Tetsu,
Former Representative in Budapest

Everyone, do you know the country called Hungary?
I think many people would say, “Yes I know it, it’s a country in Europe, right? But where exactly is it?”
Hungary is slightly larger than Hokkaido in area (approximately one-quarter the size of Japan) and is located in virtually the center of Europe, surrounded by 7 countries: Austria and Slovenia to the west; Slovakia to the north; Ukraine and Romania to the east, and Croatia and Serbia to the south. This small country has a population of 10 million.
Here I introduce the aspects of this country Hungary that I found to wonderful and those that I had difficulty with.

Firstly, what is above all truly wonderful about Hungary is the scenery.
The Danube River flows through the center of the national capital, Budapest, and the view of the Royal Palace atop Castle Hill on the hilly Buda side of the city and the chain bridge linking it to the flat Pest side lit up at night is truly the “pearl of the Danube”. On the opposite side of the river to the palace stands the towering Parliament building, its stateliness a sight that purifies the heart whenever you see it.

Traveling from Budapest into the countryside you discover rolling plains. The fields painted yellow - rape blossoms in May, sunflowers in July - are very beautiful, and the vivid contrast between the yellow and the green of the wheat and corn fields lying in between is a spectacular sight, especially viewed from the airplane when traveling on business. Another time, when traveling over the plains by car I was able to watch the setting sun sinking into the horizon.
While working in Hungary, I was responsible for Central and Eastern Europe overall, and so for half of the year I was always extremely busy traveling on business, but every time I saw this magnificent scenery my heart and soul were completely soothed.
I think this scenery was a “treasure” I could enjoy so often precisely because I was working for a Sumitomo Corporation group company, Sumi Agro Hungary*, involved in selling pesticides and seeds with technical assistance to the users.

On a different topic, Hungary has produced a large number of outstanding scientists, with the world’s highest number of Nobel laureates per head of population. The Rubik's Cube, which we are all familiar with, was invented by a Hungarian, and the Budapest Metro is the second-oldest underground railway system in the world. These are in fact only a fraction of the achievements that Hungarians have to boast about, and I was frequently treated to long-winded bragging along the lines of, “One hundred years ago Austria and Hungary had a dual monarchy and the country’s area was three times what it is today…”

Field seminar conducted by Sumi Agro Hungary1

Field seminar conducted by Sumi Agro Hungary2

My first impression was that, regardless of their age of gender, Hungarians like to talk and are very friendly. Before I became accustomed to living here, if I ever asked about something I didn’t know, either in my work or private life, I always received a careful and courteous answer, and I was impressed that there are so many kind people here. However, whenever there was a difference of opinion I had great difficulty getting the other party to understand my viewpoint. Hungarians will not change their opinions easily. This is probably a common issue for workers stationed overseas, wherever in the world they may be, but for me, having come in contact with people from various different countries in Central and Eastern Europe, I encountered the most difficulty gaining mutual understanding with Hungarians - those people I had initially thought to be the most friendly.
This may be obvious, but I was reminded that “to achieve mutual understanding you must first think about the opinions and background of the other party and accept them”. Especially when you are overseas, it is important to think about not only the other party’s background but also the situation and history of that country, and this I believe is the real thrill of working for a trading company.

*Note: Formerly Summit Agro Hungary