Saturday, March 12, 2011

in japan

I keep thinking about all the people I met or crossed paths with in Japan.

The young guy who was working as... maybe an usher for the show? Who didn't speak much English but who said, whatever you'd like, just let me know. And who was taken up on this offer and drove us miles and miles one day, out to see a Japanese circus.

The woman who was our announcer, who went on field trips with all of us, who said "tastyfish" like it was one word.

The sort-of wheeler-dealer guy who popped in and out here and there in the tour - and who later, when we were back in America, found and made arrangements for a new pink trumpet when our first was stolen from our car at the border to Mexico. Who we picked up from the airport when he came to visit America and who wanted so much to see the Batman movie that we had to take him to see it right that night - and he slept through most of it. He lived in Kobe and survived the 1995 quake.

The young woman who came to our hotel room in Tokyo and sat on the bed with her Japanese-English dictionary to get help with translations and pointed to a word in a letter and said, "What mean... shit?"

The lines of school children looking at the exhibits when we visited the atomic bomb museum in Nagasaki.

The two men who worked at the hotel in Tokyo, who gave us quiet bows, nothing else, every morning as we left the hotel for the circus. But who were so excited after they saw the show one night that they invited us out to a karaoke bar. They knew about as much English as we knew Japanese and just kept ordering food and drinks and singing in the tiny bar. And laughing and laughing as the barmaid brought drinks to our table and told us to call her "Mama." The next morning on our way out to the circus, they were quiet bows, nothing else, again.

The family we got to know in one city, whose son was learning to play the trumpet and who invited a few of us to have dinner in their restaurant after the show's bandleader / trumpet player offered to give the boy a lesson. And who we invited to the circus as a thank you for the dinner. And who presented us with traditional Japanese candies as a thank you for the invitation to the circus. The gratitude back-and-forth went on all throughout the date - at one point including a trip to the place where the sumo wrestlers train, to watch a training session and meet the champion Akebono (we had a picture taken with him. the picture cut off akebono's head) - until, as the whole circus was loaded up in a big tour bus to leave for the next city, the family was running out to see us off, and to hand big bags of snacks to us through the bus windows.


  1. So sweet. Just a reminder that, behind all these garish, overwhelming tragedies, there are just people. People just living their lives until the awful thing happens. Awful....

  2. Such a lovely remembrance.. I've been running my memories of Japan through my mind too and, as Stephen said, behind all the garish tv coverage.. it's just people living their lives until some dreadful thing happens..

  3. Thank you for sharing the beauty of your experience. For making it more real for those of us who have never been to Japan. Times like now, I like what I have heard repeatedly. "We are all Japanese." My heart goes out to everyone affected.