• 2022.05.19
  • Ukraine in Andalusia?
A village called “Ukraine” has appeared suddenly in the southwestern Autonomous Community of Andalusia, which, of all the parts of this large country, we Japanese especially think has a Spanish feel. They renamed as Ukraine the village of Fuentes de Andalucia (population 7,160) in Seville province, Andalusia for 2 weeks including Holy Week. The village flagged its wish to stand in solidarity with the people of Ukraine, now in the torment of deep despair, in spite of it being the joyous Easter season and Holy Week, when people remember Jesus Christ’s agony and death.

Photo 1

Photo 1 shows the sign “Ukraine” erected on the roundabout at the village’s entrance. On the left end is the Ukrainian national flag and emblem, and on the right end is Fuentes de Andalucia’s flag and crest. You can see that the base colors are the same for both flags, although that is coincidental. The blue represents the sky, and the yellow, or gold, symbolizes a wheat field.

Photo 2

Photo 3

Photo 4

Not only did they change the name of the village, but they also gave Ukrainian names to its main streets and squares. Photo 2 shows Kyiv Street (Calle Ciudad de Kiev), photo 3 Odessa Street (Calle Ciudad de Odesa), photo 4 Mariupol Plaza (Plaza de Mariupol), and so on.
The village council indicated at a meeting on April 4 that it would take in Ukrainian refugees, before the name change, and started calling for volunteers to provide houses and families to assist. It also decided to renovate an empty house in the village, which nuns had previously been running as a school facility, and use it as a refugee center. They raised 3,000 euros (a little over 420,000 yen) in donations in just 2 days after announcing the plan to take in about 25 refugees, or 5 or 6 families. Twenty Ukrainian refugees had already arrived by April 20, less than a month after the council’s decision. The village changed its name and street names not only with the intention of showing solidarity with Ukraine, but also to give a warm welcome from the whole town to the refugees they took in.
Cervantes writes in praise of Barcelona in Part 2, Chapter 72 of “Don Quixote,” “haven of strangers, asylum of the poor...champion of the wronged, pleasant exchange of firm friendships,” which I have mentioned in a previous article. It makes me feel proud as a resident of Spain that a village in Andalusia is keeping this spirit alive today, some 400 years later. https://kc-i.jp/en/activity/kwn/yamada_s/20190814/
I have another memory of Fuentes de Andalucia, although it is a sad one. Nine people lost their lives and 6, including the driver, were injured either slightly or seriously in an accident involving a tour bus carrying Japanese sightseers enroute from Seville to their next destination, Cordoba, on the afternoon of February 26, 1991, when the Gulf War was coming to an end. The accident happened at a bridge pier at the Fuentes de Andalucia exit junction on the expressway that passes through the village. The injured were quickly taken by emergency transport to Seville, 60 km away, with the help of the villagers. I was involved in the aftermath of the accident, so I will never forget this village.
On another topic to do with Fuentes de Andalucia, there is in the village a power generation plant, an initiative that meets the seventh of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), “Affordable and clean energy,” which are getting a lot of attention nowadays. It is a solar thermal power generation plant that uses the heat of the sun, unlike the solar photovoltaic power generation that you see a lot in Japan. It is equipped with a power storage device, so it can generate power for 15 hours, even at night or in rain. The power plant has already been operating for 11 years and has the capacity to power 27,500 households. Photo 5 shows the 140-m high central tower with 2,569 mirrors surrounding it to reflect sunlight. The mirrors automatically change orientation every 20 seconds in keeping with the orientation of the sun, which changes from moment to moment, so as to concentrate sunlight onto the tip of the tower most efficiently.

Photo 5

Please excuse my digressions, from Ukraine to Spain, and Fuentes de Andalucia.


  • Susumu Yamada
  • JobSpanish and Japanese Translation

It’s been almost 37 years since I received a residence permit and work permit from the Spanish government and paid my first tax and social insurance premiums. Now that I’m at that age where I will soon go and register at the senior human resources center, I’m grateful to have this opportunity to introduce you all to this country that has taken care of me these many years.

View a list of Susumu Yamada's

What's New


What's New