My fascination with the Japanese culture began when I was in middle school and acquired a Japanese pen pal who lived in Nagoya. We exchanged letters throughout the year (back when people actually did that) and on holidays and birthdays we also exchanged small gifts, articles that were representative of our two cultures. Although we lost contact as we got older, my freshman roommate in college was also Japanese. We got along wonderfully as Misako was one of the sweetest people I have ever known. We had loads of fun living together, my favorite memories being when we exchanged farewell gifts (she gave me a kimono) and one night when helping her with an ESL assignment, her eyes welled up when I explained how George kills Lennie out of love to save him in John Steinbeck’s novel Of Mice and Men. Misako met my parents and grandparents when they came to visit me and during fall break she came home with me on the train to Philadelphia where we did all the touristy things including touring the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, and as a treat, the famous Shofuso Japanese House and Garden in Fairmont Park. I was incredibly sad when she left and unfortunately with her rather hectic life as a flight attendant, she wasn’t able to come to my wedding. But we stay in touch from time to time and I sure do hope that one day my travels will take me to Japan and most importantly I can see Misako once more.
1.) Tsukiji market in Tokyo is the world’s largest fish market.
2.) The name “Kyoto” when broken down into kanji means “capital” and “capital.” It was founded in the sixth century and was the capital of Japan for more than 1,000 years. Today it’s one of Japan’s most visited cities.
3.) Hiroshima was the first city ever to be struck by an atomic bomb. The city was completely decimated and the Atomic Bomb Dome is the ruin of the only building to survive the blast. Peace Memorial Park is dedicated to those killed by the bomb.