Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A tale of two mothers

please excuse the typing and editing. this japanese computer is tricky to use.

Yesterday, my real mother and I wandered the streets of Kobe with my host mother and her best friend, whom i remember well from high school. they are both about 70 years old and are very difficult to chase. Nakafuji:s pedometer reported that we went about 8 miles. That is only one measure. if you were to measure the level of silliness, we would have been off the charts.

After breakfast, we went to see a Japanese flower garden. It was lovely and we took lots of pictures. We took pictures of the flowers, each other, and the gardener too. My host mother kept taking pictures of me when I wasnt looking. I told her that she could have a picture of my behind if she wanted it. we were silly. It was fun.

After the garden, we enjoyed lunch at kaiten zushi. That is the word for those sushi places that deliver plates on a conveyor belt. This was a special place in as much as my host mother wanted to show us that if you order something special, they will deliver it on a special high speed train track (a second level of conveyors). The food was only okay, but the entertainment was priceless. We were pretty silly. I bought a toy train in the vending machine on our way out.

After lunch, we visited a karaoke bar coffee house where my host mother:s friend works. I remember Tanaka san from high school, and of course she remembered me. We traded gifts appropriately, took pictures with people we didn:t know, received gifts from strangers, and I even sang some Elvis. If you have ever heard me sing, you will understand that the patrons were clapping loudly mostly to drown out my voice. When I was finished, I bowed deeply and used a typical Japanese expression which roughly translates to - that must have been very hard work for you, and you must be so very tired. They clapped louder and laughed heartily. We were silly. It was fun.

After karaoke, we went to Motomachi for shopping. Motomachi is sort of like NY 5th avenue, except there is a lot more shopping, a lot more restaurants, and a lot more people. After wandering through the maze of covered streets, I suggested that we go to Diamaru. Diamaru department store is sort of like Neiman Marcus. They carry Burberry, but mostly we were enjoying the excessively high end shopping - Hermes, Tiffany and the like. My mother and I fell in love with a purse that did not have a price tag, but was matched with some Japanese traditional shoes which were marked at about $1500. To be fair, I never saw any outfit for more than $7000, but I suppose I stopped looking. I think my Japanese mothers enjoyed it too since they probably don:t bother going in there very often. We were pretty silly in there, but I suppose the shop owners didn:t mind too much. It was fun.

After shopping, my Japanese mother decided to take us to the top of a tall building to see Kobe from above at night. Since it had started raining, they decided to keep us under roofs the entire way. That is not an unreasonable goal in Japan, but it is still a little bit tricky. We went on quite the tour. My host mother was very polite as we ran past the security guard at a local company and ran into the building. We moved quickly through various hallways and even through the company cafeteria. We all bowed quickly in everyone:s direction and tried hard to not laugh heartily until we were clear of earshot. It was very rediculous. We had fun.

After our office building tour and view of the city, we returned to the house to talk to my host sister via skype. My japanese mother wanted to introduce her grand daughter and give my sister and i time to talk. So, we did. My Japanese mother does this very frequently and showed us how her granddaughter in Australia likes to watch her grandmother in Japan play with a balloon. It was a very serious use of technology. And, it was nice to see my host sister again, even in that way. She explained that we were story book characters to her daughter, so I insisted that she start considering us movie stars. It was silly. We had fun.

After skype, we went to dinner at a local place. We took pictures of each other and different combinations of everyone in the restaurant. The food was good and the sake was warm. My mother received oranges from the shopkeeper. It was fun.

After dinner, we went to a local karaoke place. After all, we hadn:t sung in at least a few hours. By then I had moved to whiskey and was singing in Japanese. Our proprietors encouraged that heartily and I thus acquiesced to what I told my mother were silly foreigner tricks. But, even so, I did quite well with my oral Japanese character exam and surprised everyone with how much I could read. When asked where I learned Japanese, I explained noisily that I had spent 12 weeks with my host mother and she must be brilliant - much laughter. The proprietor also asked my host mother if it was very difficult for her when I lived in her home not speaking any Japanese and how she managed to feed me American food. My host mother laughed.

"Oh, I didn:t do that. Are you kidding? I didn:t even really want to have an exchange student at first. I thought it would be a hassle. But, it wasn:t a problem."

"Oh, but I suppose it was probably a problem for her." she finished with a smile.

I replied on cue.

"Yes, can you imagine how horrible it must have been for me! I had to live with this woman who is always speaking in local dialect and making jokes. I couldn:t understand anything and the food was terribly strange! It was so so horrible. Can you imagine?"

"Oh, do you understand our local dialect?" she asked.

And, I answered in the only possible way.

"No, I don:t understand it at all," spoken with great drama, in perfect local dialect.

It was silly. We had fun.


Brigette said...

It was VERY silly. You had a LOT of fun. Having so much fun must have been very hard work, and you must have been very tired.

I'm so glad you got to take this trip. God bless your mother. Or rather, your mothers.

Flea said...

Sounds so wonderful!! I'm so happy for both you and all your mothers, you silly thing. :)

AreWeThereYet? said...

So glad you are sharing stories and memories as they happen. Think of you often and wonder what you are doing. Now that I know you are sneaking thru office bldgs, I will stop wondering.

Wasabi said...

Nice spelling and grammar. Sorry, just thought I'd bother you on that.

Laura said...

Sounds like you are having a great time! What a year of adventure you have had. If only Jay could have that extra time off every year . . .

MIT Mommy said...

Thanks for checking in on me. It has been an amazing trip. Can't wait to tell about it. Mom and I are in the lounge now waiting for our flight back. She is reading the comments over my shoulder - and giggling along with me.

Ooops. Better get in one more glass of wine before we get on the plane!

Kate said...

I'm so sorry that we missed you! I am writing from the PBS kids series Design Squad hosted by MIT mechanical engineer and inventor Nate Ball.

This Saturday Cleveland-area families will be able to stop by the Great Lakes Science Center from 11-3pm to meet Nate and do some kid friendly hands on engineering challenges inspired by the show. The event is free and open to the public.

The series http://pbskids.org/designsquad, which is currently airing its second season on WVIZ, features Nate working with two groups of teens to design, build and test projects for real world clients such as a cardboard furniture challenge with IKEA and a gravity bike challenge with celebrity inventor Dean Kamen.

We love your blog and am sorry that when we were in town you are away! If you are back this weekend feel free to come by the museum. If you would like more information about the series or Nate you can reach me at 617.300.5305.

Kate Hathaway
WGBH Boston for Design Squad

Erin west coast cousin said...

Hey Geek central, enjoying the read about auntie and cousin N...this is hilarious. Since I'm home looking at the floor (my retina spontaneously detached on Christmas eve) about the only thing I can do is surf the web with my laptop on my lap. I do that when I've tired of staring at shoes... sounds like a fabulous trip. e

MIT Mommy said...

Cousin Erin - I heard about your retina. I hope it is healing well. Sounds like you were very lucky that it was discovered when it was!

Enjoy surfing. Maybe I'll get something up more for you to read. =).