My friend has wanted to meet his extended family that lives here in Japan. We were both surprised when he was able to contact them from the documents his mother sent him that may or may not be accurate. Thankfully they were.
His grandmother passed away this past spring. She was Japanese, so he is a quarter. But, he never learned much Japanese until coming to Japan. I was able translate for him when he met his extended family for the first time. It was a very special experience. They were so excited to meet him.
We arrived on the island on a Saturday afternoon. I had been messaging with his family prior to our arrival, so they were waiting on us when we got off the boat. His great aunt’s face lit up when she saw us walking down the stairs from the dock. She hugged us both and carried on about how tall we were. The rest of the family shortly met up with us and we walked to a restaurant across from the docks to eat lunch.
During lunch, I translated some basic introductions to the family. They asked where we lived in the US, how was Japan, what was our favorite places here and so on.
After lunch we went to the family house. In the house was their family shrine. I did not take pictures out of respect to the family. Shelby was able to light incense and pray respect to his ancestors at the shrine. Then, we sat in the family room and talked over coffee, tea, and snacks. They showed us multiple photo albums and other things they had saved over the years that his grandmother had sent. I have no words for how special this entire experience was.
According to what his great uncle told us, the cliffs were formed when the ocean cooled the hot magma from volcanoes long ago, so the red cliffs were rather unique to the islands.
Tired from travel, we were able to take a nap at the family’s hotel before dinner.
Shelby and I were able to have our first homemade traditional Japanese dinner- YUM
If you weren’t aware before, the Japanese love to drink. Beer is a celebratory drink here. So the beer (and sake) didn’t stop all night, but it is customary to pour each others drinks and not your own. It took a moment to catch on to this, and we were shocked they kept filling our cups before we finished. After dinner, the family took us to a karaoke bar and everybody sang and danced. It was such a wonderful night.
Sunday morning, they woke us up at 9am. With good reason though, the sun sets around 5 here. We traveled to one of the other islands by ferry and his family drove us around to take pictures where his grandmother had taken pictures when she lived there. I left my phone in my bag, so I don’t really have many pictures of my own. They gave us pictures they took, so I hope to share them once I scan them.
The rain held off until we were done exploring, and we got to take another nap before dinner at the other family’s hotel.
Monday morning, we headed back for Hirakata.
This was a truly special experience, and I feel lucky that I was able to help Shelby and his family communicate with each other. They were so welcoming and nice to us, and treated me as family too.
Curious about something in Japan? drop a comment below or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org