Thursday, July 13, 2006
And the Saka's have been both to Rusty and I. They were Rusty's host family when he came to Japan in 1997 on OC's Pacific Rim Program. When we came to Mito in 1999 as AET's, we were lucky enough to be placed in an apartment just down the street from their house. We shared a lot of good times together in our three years in Mito. Dinners in each other's homes... trips to the Tomihiro Hoshino Museum... seeing the plum blossoms in Kairakuen... watching the World Cup... visiting Asakusa Temple in Tokyo... picking grapes... learning ikebana (Japanese flower arranging).
The Saka's graciously hosted both of our families when they came to Japan to visit since our tiny apartment wasn't big enough for so many extra bodies. Our plum tree that they let us plant in their garden is still flourishing, and every year, they send us pictures of it in bloom. Rusty and I call them "Oka-san" and "Oto-san" (mother and father in Japanese). When Alex was born, they became his "honorary grandparents." In so many ways, they have been our family when we were strangers in a foreign land.
Two weeks ago, we had dinner with the Saka's one last time. Oka-san made a delicious Japanese meal as usual, and we spent a fun evening together. Alex especially enjoyed all the attention from his Oba-chan and Oji-chan. Oji-chan tickled his feet and played peek-a-boo with a fan (see photo above), and he just giggled and giggled. He thought it was the funniest thing! When I think that Alex will have no memory of the Saka's (or any part of our life here in Japan, for that matter), I am sad. Well, he will have the scrapbook, if I ever get around to making it!
Saying goodbye to the Saka's was one of the hardest things we've had to do so far. But we hope we'll see them again someday. Maybe they will come and visit us in Portland! Or maybe we will make a trip back to Japan at some point in the distant future.
So, we won't say "sayonara" -- just "jya ne" (see you later)!