Of course our trip to Japan would not have been complete if it had not included a reunion with Yoshimi san. He had married and had one son, Hironori, the same age as Timmy –and his wife, Mihoko, was pregnant with their second child! We were all amazed at the similarities in our lives. His mother lived with them in the generational family home on the island of Shikoku.
We had taken a train from Tokyo to Osaka, a ferry to Shikoku. There were delays and we found ourselves arriving very late. A hot meal was waiting for us, and we ate it sitting on the floor with our legs under a traditional low table covered with a heavy a quilt and a heater underneath. The wooden house was unheated, drafty, and chilly, even though it was springtime. We welcomed the warmth. Timmy had slept on the journey and was wide awake and ready to become acquainted with our hosts and sample the interesting foods.
We were loaned appropriate Japanese shoes as well as a light vest for me and a Japanese jacket for Dan. Timmy was given a traditional baby jacket (as well as one for our new baby, due in one month).
We felt very welcomed as we toured the fish hatchery and admired the trees that Yoshimi was carefully growing that would be used in the religious shrines.
Traditional Japanese homes have three Shinto shrines: one by the entrance of the home for the children, one for the water source–at the well or the spigot, and one in the kitchen. They also have a Buddhist shrine where they honor and worship their ancestors. They believe that if they take care of their ancestors their ancestors will take care of them. Yoshimi confessed: spiritually we are very confused people.