The World Cup in Qatar has brought together football fans from around the globe in celebration of the biggest tournament. One such fan is Suzuki Kensho from Japan, who travelled the world and made it to Qatar to watch his national team compete in the World Cup.
His backpacking journey came with challenges as he had difficulties with his accommodation in Qatar. He turned to social media and the community of Qatar in search of a place to stay.
The ILoveQatar.net (ILQ) team caught up with Suzuki Kensho to know about his journey and his host in Qatar.
Suzuki Kensho is a 33-year-old Japanese football fan from the city of Hiroshima. He fell in love with the sport as early as 6 years old and even plays it as a hobby.
He previously worked as a Site Supervisor for 10 years before quitting his job to pursue his dream of seeing the world and Qatar’s World Cup.
His incredible journey took him through 5 different countries in 2 months, with Qatar and the World Cup as his sixth destination. He traveled through Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Bangladesh, and India before landing in Qatar at the Hamad International Airport on 25 November 2022.
During his backpacking journey, he arrived in Qatar and had difficulties with his accommodation, which meant he spent his first few days searching for an alternative host to take him in for the duration of his stay in the country.
He would travel through the city during the day and hold up a sign that read, “I am looking for someone who can give me a place to stay. I’m travelling around the world." He has been spotted at the stadiums where he watched the Japan national team and at Souq Waqif, where fans and a few media outlets took notice of him and his sign.
Khalifa Al Haroon, also known as Mr. Q and the founder of ILoveQatar.net (ILQ), shares that he first saw Suzuki on an international sports page where they were interviewing him at Souq Waqif after spotting him and his sign. When he watched the video, he expected it would end happily, with Suzuki finding help but was surprised that the interviewer only wished him luck on his journey.
Khalifa then dropped a comment on the video asking where to reach Suzuki so he could share his story and find someone to help. Suzuki saw his comment and responded, sharing his own Instagram account.
"Nobody in Qatar should ever feel like they have no home. Hospitality is about making sure that the guests who come and visit you are comfortable and safe, and I know that if I was in Japan and I needed help I know without a doubt that Japanese people would help me too. As a community, we must come together and help each other," Khalifa shares.
Khalifa shared Suzuki's story on his Instagram page and asked if anyone could help. One of Khalifa's followers, Robert Koning reached out and offered his home to Suzuki.
Robert Koning, a resident of Qatar has been living here for almost a decade.
“I was with my wife in the car when we saw the video on Khalifa's page, and we said I’d message him and get in touch with him, and he can stay however long he wants. Our home is open.” shares Robert.
Since Suzuki did not have a local number in Qatar, Robert and Suzuki initially only communicated through Instagram. On 5 December 2022, Suzuki attended Japan’s match against Croatia at Al Janoub Stadium and was doing a live video on Instagram when Robert crashed his live stream and messaged him offering a place to stay, which Suzuki gladly accepted.
They agreed to meet up after the match, which is where their incredible friendship began.
Robert Koning is from the Netherlands and has spent over 9 years in Qatar, where he met his wife and started a life here. He is a business owner of a martial arts company called Royal Martial Arts. He shares that he has taken a leave from the business, which allowed him and his family to take in Suzuki and show him around Qatar.
He also shares that he spent a year in Japan as an exchange student when he was 16 years old, where he learned a little Japanese, which now comes in handy when conversing with Suzuki, who speaks very little English.
Since arriving in Qatar, Suzuki has attended 3 of Japan’s matches: Japan vs Costa Rica on 27 November, Japan vs Spain on 1 December, and Japan vs Croatia on 5 December 2022.
Aside from the World Cup matches, Suzuki has spent time travelling around Qatar with his newfound friend Robert.
Robert and his family have taken Suzuki to see Villagio Mall and Sealine Beach and plan to take him to Dukhan, Al Khor, The Pearl Island, FIFA Fan Festival at Al Bidda Park, and much more.
After having spent about two weeks in Qatar, Suzuki shares that he loves Qatar’s beautiful buildings, luxurious places, and clean surroundings. He also loves the Qatari hospitality, how he was welcomed and how everyone he has met has been extremely friendly.
When asked until when Suzuki plans to stay in Qatar, he says, “as long as Qatar will let me,” with a hopeful tone.
Suzuki shares that he plans to travel to the United States next, where he plans to meet a friend from Japan who is on an amazing journey, travelling by rickshaw to America. He plans to hitchhike to New York and continue his journey around the world and join his friend on another adventure.
“Thank you for your help. I am so very happy. I will create a video for everyone in Japan, so they know more about what Qatar has to offer and how beautiful it is and how kind the people are. I can’t wait to share this with the people of Japan.”
Have you seen or heard of Suzuki's story before? What do you think about his journey so far? Share with us in the comments! Do share this article - it keeps us going!
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