In which I inadvertently made a new friend.

December 28th, 2013, 10am

It was 3°C with few clouds. The breeze was light.

As I was checking out of the inn, the okami-san (owner’s wife) came to my room and gave me her contact information. She said, if there is anything you need, do please contact me. Any time.

There is a back story to this you see. As she was preparing my room when I checked in yesterday, she was making polite small talk: where are you from, why are you here, etc., etc., I am here from Tokyo and traveling Japan with the Rail Pass I said. Rail Pass?, she asked, those are only available to foreigners. Yes, I said. I have a Green Card from the US but a citizenship from Japan. When she asked how long I lived in the US, she was taken aback that I was born and raised abroad.

But your Japanese isn’t strange, you speak the way a normal Japanese person does… your mannerisms are Japanese… I knew there was something different about you, I couldn’t pinpoint it… I am so confused… and before she continued, I interrupted her and said I am a product of my parents and family, that they were the ones who raised me as a proper Japanese. The way I am, has nothing to do with me.

We laughed and unexpectedly bonded over afternoon tea. So much so, she felt comfortable offering her contact information as I was leaving. As she handed me this square of paper, with her email addresses, phone numbers and home address she timidly asked: “Will you be friends with me? Exchange emails, if you don’t mind?”

And of course we will.

As a Japanese person raised abroad, people in Japan don’t know what to make of me. I look Japanese. I speak Japanese. Read and write Japanese but there is something a bit… off. Something that gives away I am different from everyone else.

In Tokyo, that difference is a bit off-putting. People assume whatever stories they make up in their heads and let me be. Outside of Tokyo, people assume I am different because I am from Tokyo. And that assumption has opened doors to many memorable meetings.

It’s only day three.
Looking forward to what is in store, as I keep falling more and more in love with my country but more so, the people.

Sanna, Luis, Stephen, Christine and 4 others said thanks.

Share this moment

Mona Nomura

Hi is my personal and creative outlet. Happy to be here.

Create a free account

Have an account? Sign in.

Sign up with Facebook