suzuki-sans

As I sit here on the interminably long plane ride home, organizing my photos from this amazing trip, one thing really stands out about our experience in Japan--the enormous generosity of our hosts in Tokyo, Masako Suzuki and her husband Akitoshi.

Masako and Akitoshi Suzuki

The picture shows Masako and Aki in front of some of Aki's most treasured possessions. He's an avid collector of antiques and art, and these are some of his most beautiful items, which he gave us a private showing of the morning we left Japan.

My mother met Masako over ten years ago during a 3-month stay in Tokyo, and they've stayed close friends since then. Masako, a retired teacher, comes to the US for about 6 months of every year to study English and explore the country, generally staying with either my mother or my sister on her trips. She's really become a part of our family--my kids know her better than they know many of their aunts and uncles. When my mother stays in Tokyo, Masako is a wonderful and generous hostess...and that hospitality was extended to me and to Lane on this trip. Not just through the offering of living quarters in her house (though that in and of itself was a wonderful gift), but also through the time, energy, and expense she invested in us during our stay--from wonderful restaurants to the indescribable experience of a hot springs resort in Hakone to the hand-written directions she provided us with each time we needed to venture out.

It's interesting now, contrasting our time in Shanghai with our time in Tokyo. We were quintessential tourists and foreigners in Shanghai--even with a friend to show us around, the hotel experience is very removed from day-to-day life in a big city. But even though Tokyo is just as foreign a city to us (and Japanese just as foreign a language, to me at least), Tokyo felt welcoming and comfortable. Not many first-time visitors to Japan get the experience that Lane and I had, living in someone's house, visiting with their friends. We didn't get the "Lost in Translation" experience, by a long shot. There was no sense of disconnection, of disassociation.

On Tuesday night when I went to Dan Gillmor's Tokyo bloggers meeting, I spent some time talking with Gen Kanai, and told him a bit about our trip. He noted how unusual it is for visitors to Tokyo to get a chance to see inside a Japanese home--and we were given that opportunity not just once, but five times during a ten day stay.

In large part because of the hospitality shown to us in Tokyo...by Masako and Aki, by Joi and Mizuka, by Tokuko and Yoshioh and Hajime, by Inego and Eri and Jim and ado, that I'm now planning to apply for a fellowship in Tokyo for the 2005-2006 academic year. I fell more than a little bit in love with the city and the people there, and I hope to be able to spend more time there, combining my research and my interest in the culture...and trying to repay some of the kindnesses shown us during this visit.

 

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This page contains a single entry by Liz Lawley published on March 7, 2004 4:05 PM.

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