When I come back from travelling overseas, I need a period of time to put my experience on the shelf and let it sit until I am ready to re-examine my experience and how it has affected me.
After a full year, I think I am ready to pull it off the shelf and re-visit my trip to Japan.
I want to start just outside of Mihara where I stayed with some good friends of the family, Keiko and Haro. They became my parents and took care of me for a few days. This is where I fell in love with the Japanese countryside. Outside their kitchen window was a field of water. All around their house were neatly organized rice paddies, some brimming with water, others filled with rice. The sound at night would buzz with frogs, crickets and all kinds of insects. It was like living in My Neighbor Totoro. Some of the roads were barely wide enough for Keiko's little compact car to drive across. There were no rail guards, just a straight drop off. She would drive so fast on these roads like it was nothing.
My Japanese parents felt it was a bit boring there but it was so beautiful and peaceful to me. It was like having a retreat from my travels. I went for a walk just to soak it all up.
An old skinny man riding a bicycle pulled up next to Keiko and I as we were walking. He was missing a few teeth, wearing an Adidas track suit with crusty plastic sandals on his feet and smelled like a brewery. He asked me (in japanese of course) where I was from. I just looked at Keiko hoping she would translate. He was excited to find out I was from Vancouver and talked about the Olympics. He also said he liked the way I dressed, I had good style, then road off.
As we made our way back home, this man appeared again. He was holding two little brown glass bottles and gave them to us. It was a little awkward. It was like he was trying to 'pick us up'. I don't know about you, but my mom taught me never to take anything from a stranger. We hesitantly accepted the bottles and continued walking as the man stood there for a few minutes watching us leave. I don't know what he was expecting but I was glad to get out of his sight. I guess the bottles were some kind of energy drink which I would never use. Keiko and I had a little chuckle and gave the bottles to Haro. Apparently he likes them.