In March 2000, friends were kind enough to take a trip with us to Japan.
This memory recently crossed my mind so I went back and looked at some of the pictures I had taken.
Has your path every crossed with someone who became a permanent part of your life?Â That’s what happened to me. She lived in Japan and had come to the U.S. as a student to study nursing. It just so happened that she came to our church one Sabbath and I met her and we’ve been friends since then.
I had always been interested in Asian art and, I know this sounds strange, to meet someone who was Asian in person made my curiosity of Asia even stronger. This was a way for me to really get to know more about the culture.
It’s not that I didn’t know Asian people but for the most part they were Americanized. This friendship would be special.
But I digress …
The airplane trip to Japan seemed long ~ a lot of sleeping and reading.
Once we arrived though everything went smoothly.Â One thing I remember distinctly is that the food all seemed to taste the same.Â My friend said that they add a seasoning to their food and a lot of times it’s the same seasoning.Â I had to laugh when one day we saw a McDonald’s and I was happy that we were able to taste something different.
While in Japan, one of my hopes was that we would see a geisha girl but Yoko (my friend) explained that they aren’t out often.Â One day while we were walking through a plaza there was a lot of excitement as a car with an open top was coming through and inside was a geisha. I couldn’t believe all the excitement as people (who I thought were reporters) tried to snap pictures as the car whizzed by. Unfortunately, the excitement came to a quick stop as the car sped by too quickly.
Later I ran into what I thought was a geisha and took a picture with her.Â Yoko explained that it wasn’t a “real” geisha as the woman I took a picture with smiled and trained geishas would never smile because it would mess up their make-up.Â Interesting, no?
Visiting Hiroshima was a somber experience.Â My mind could not grasp the thought of so many innocent people perishing for the government’s actions. Any killing to me seems senseless.
The bullet trains were very fast and we took them from one city to another.Â My husband was able to decipher the maps even though they were written in Japanese.Â People were friendly when you stopped them to ask questions but most of them spoke only Japanese so most times they weren’t helpful.
There were lots and lots of bicycles ~ everywhere you looked there were bicycles.
One time Yoko took us up a really long hill to a grave site.Â I had never seen anything like it before. The graves were so packed together.
I believe one of the reasons I am attracted to Asian art is the simplicity.Â Clean lines ~ nothing overly bold.Â The Japanese gardens I have been to create such a peace in my heart. It’s as if distractions float away.
And the same can be true of the architecture of their temples and prayer houses.
And now, the rest of the story (didn’t think I’d leave you hanging, did you?)
Yoko and I became pen pals. I introduced her to a friend of mine (also Japanese but born in Hawaii) and they got married and had a son who next year will graduate as a doctor.
It’s been many years since we traveled together to Japan and we are separated now by a couple of states, but our friendship remains.
Funny how people can come together from different parts of the world and have such an influence in your life.