True Stories from Japan is an occasional blog on the Sasakawa USA website that features reflective essays about travels to and from Japan. Topics range from U.S.-Japan relations to cultural differences and everything in between.
True Stories from Japan accepts submissions for publication. Click here for details on how to submit an article for consideration. Published items are the opinion/experience of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Sasakawa USA.
My husband and I visited Kumamoto Prefecture in Kyushu in October to explore and learn more about the hometowns of my husband’s grandparents. Like many third-generation Japanese Americans, Chuck knew little other than the prefectures from which his grandparents had emmigrated. Even his parents knew little, as their parents rarely talked about Japan. Luckily, we did have a copy of a koseki, or family registry, for his paternal grandfather. Exploring ship, immigration, marriage, and other records gave us hints of the hometowns and the names of his grandparents’ parents.
My interest in Japan began with a deep and long-lasting love for Pokemon. Pokemon puts a lot of effort into localization for the American audience and when I was first exposed to the franchise at the age of 5, I didn’t even know it was Japanese. From there, my love for Japan spiraled.
I arrived in the United States for the first time expecting to obtain knowledge of the U.S.-Japan relationship from American perspectives, while also feeling concerned about how I would be viewed as a Japanese student. To make my one-year stay in Washington satisfactory, I read a plethora of books and papers on U.S.-Japan relations and believed that I was ready to expand on that knowledge. In short, the city of Washington, DC has more than lived up to my expectations.
One day, a coworker asked if I wanted a ride to the wedding of Hidefumi-sensei, another one of our coworkers. To be honest, at the time, I had absolutely no clue what she was talking about. Nor did I know that Hidefumi-sensei was getting married, let alone had a girlfriend. Even more surprising was that I was told two days before the wedding.
This past summer, I had the pleasure of visiting Japan for a two-week long trip with a handful of classmates from my high school in rural Kentucky. Part of me was quite nervous at first, and the thought of traveling around the world without the parental supervision that had surrounded me throughout my sixteen years made my palms sweaty.