For two of my four years in Japan, I lived near an ice rink. I used to go there often for exercise, even taking lessons to learn how to skate better. At the rink, I met a family named Karata. The Karatas had two little girls who were excellent figure skaters. After getting to know the family, the Mom and Dad hired me to teach the girls English. I agreed, visiting the Karatas every Sunday evening for one hour of tutoring followed by the something I really wanted…a home-cooked meal. I ate there every week for over a year until I moved. I felt like the most special of guests. The grandmother, while shopping one day, even bought me a pair of slippers for their house when she found a pair my size.
On this day, my family and I got together with the Karatas for lunch. The Karatas fixed my favorite meal, sukiyaki. We visited for several hours. Unfortunately, only three of the five family members could make it. The dad was out on business and couldn’t get back. Also, the two little girls are all grown up now and the older one lives several hundred miles away. Still, it was good that I got to see at least three of them. Things seem to have come full circle. At 11, Andrew is now between the ages the two little girls were when I first met the family. Hard to believe. Below is a picture of Andrew and the younger daughter, Hiromi.
After leaving the Karatas, we went to downtown Osaka and the shopping district of Namba.
We spent most of the evening at what can only be described as retro-land, a carnival like building where the interior was meant to represent Osaka’s past. There were dozens of takoyaki (octopus dumplings) stands inside. We dressed up in clothes from Japan in the 20s.
The boys played lots of games.
It was fun, but it made Mo feel old. All the candy for sale was stuff she liked when she was a kid.