Today, I went down to meet Mai’s parents for lunch and to do a small presentation to a group of people interested in international cultures. Since September, I had been planning with the president of this society a speech about my childhood and upbringing, my education and career, how I started my own business, and finally, my strategic trip around the world.
On our way to the community center, we stopped for a quick peek at the beautiful cherry blossoms that lined the Yamagata River, and it was spectacular. The blossoms were at ‘Mankai’, meaning full bloom, but in a specific sense of that of a full moon. Sakura, or cherry blossoms, are an integral part of the Japanese culture, and it’s the most special time of year that has culturally created the reason for their school system’s new year beginning, along with being woven into the fabric of the daily Japanese life during March/April. All stores are shrouded in pink, foods have special ‘Sakura’ versions, buildings have special ‘Sakura’ light shows.
I was a little nervous that I would be able to keep the attention of the group, granted that the average age seemed to be about 65 years old. To my surprise, the group actively participated with questions and enthusiasm, interest, and curiosity into my life’s path. We were able to share a great afternoon together, and I think everyone was pleased with the outcome.
I then left Tamagawa and headed for Shibuya to do a little shopping as well as meeting up with a friend from California who is doing an English teaching job here with his wife. Four of us went to dinner and found a great Okonomiyaki, or Japanese Pancake, shop where we had about 4 big pancakes with pork, cheese, bacon and other toppings. I was pretty exhausted from the day, so after dinner I headed back home for a nice quiet evening and started organizing my backpack for heading out the next morning.