Sunday, August 24, 2014


     Tomorrow Reina is leaving. One of her  cute Japanese suitcases  is already packed and standing in the living room. 
     On Friday, she and I went shopping for some gifts for her family and friends. Mostly, they included nuts, gummy bears and peach candy. Did I mention nuts? Apparently, that's what's missing in Japan!
     I also bought  some coffee for a sister-in-law and a small plate for one of Reina's cousin's baby. I remember the tall, shy, girl of sixteen, I think, from when we went to Japan, but now she has three (or is it four?) children already!

    Here is an excerpt from my memoirs, The Cities, about our visit to my husband's country.

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     Everything on that trip was a surprise on it's own. Even before we stepped over a pile of shoes in front of Taka's parents' house, we could hear a bunch of kids' voices chanting: "Sanju, Sanju!" Sonny's real name is Sungjoon, and his Japanese cousins changed it to "sanju", which means thirty in their language. My three years old looked at the milling black haired, bright eyed crowd of children and hit one of them right on the nose! He hasn't done anything like that before or ever since! I was so embarrassed, I wanted to fall through the ground. What a way to introduce one's family!
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     The Toyoda family lavishly prepared for our arrival. They put a queen size bed in my parents' room and purchased a new style toilet bowl. That thing talked to you, washed all the relevant bits of you and even attempted to dry them with gentle whiffs of warm air. It was a pleasure to visit that room!                                                                                                      images (254×199)
     My family slept Japanese style: on futon mattresses and tiny bean-filled pillows, under soft, thick futon comforters. In the morning we put everything away. I loved that way of living: it's much better than generic rooms that one finds in every place where one travels!
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At the banquet that followed, Taka, LeraGrisha and I came out and sang a song to the guests.   
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                                 images (348×145)    Then there was more drumming, now as an entertainment. 
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     Taka prepared a statement of our family's purpose, as a guide for the Toyoda clan to better understand God and His truth, or something like that: it was in Japanese, I don't remember the details. We were standing in the middle of the room, with Taka reading the statement, when my children, and, especially, Hanah, who didn't like loud noises in general, began to weep and tug on me, like some beggars in Cairo.


     They did not stop, when Taka told me to go to each person at the table, pour them some sake and ask to sign the document. I was, literally, dragging both my kids on my legs, still trying to smile an nod to the family members. The run on my black stocking was so noticeable, you could probably see it from space! Between the drumming and the screaming, my head hurt something fierce. 
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     I took the kids out of the room, and they switched the noise off, immediately. A young Buddhist monk got Hanah a doggie from a machine with a claw, and that magically restored her good spirits. I still see that doggie, when I go to Hanah's room. She is not there, but I keep an  echo of her smile on the day when she got the toy, in my heart.
Here they are, my little Hanah  and Sonny


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