Gaijin meet Japan – Arigato Forever Okimori Family-
Today, I´d like to start a small series, Gaijin meet Japan. This occurred to me when I bumped into a couple in Tokyo, whom I became friend with in Madrid. It was last summer and they were about to end their long adventure in Asia. They´d chosen Tokyo as the starting and the ending point. This happened to them because of a wonderful family they happened to know some years ago.
There are many foreighners visit Japan and leave with millions of photos but not so many can travel like they did. The best way to know a country is always a local person takes you around. I know Japan is one of the most popular places for tourists and they love it. But I wonder, what happens when they really see how Japanese people live and see things. That´s why it´s Gaijin meet Japan. Hope you don´t take "gaijin" term offensive. I like to hear many experiences of you. If you are inspired by Oleñka´s story, don´t hesitate, write your tales and share them with us.
Gaijin meet Japan – Arigato Forever Okimori Family-
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Dear Iromegane followers, allow me to introduce myself. I´m Oleñka, Venezuelan young writer who with Cédric Hermandez (my husband), set out on a beautiful adventure in the Asian continent a year ago. Now we are here to tell you our journey with tales and photographs.
It was a need for new air and desires of a deep change, the end of the summer of 2012, we made a decision in our home in Madrid, Spain. We wanted give up the stability, calmness of having a fixed job and the daily life in the city. We threw ourselves into a long journey to the Southeast Asia, then China, Nepal and Japan. That´s what we did and made us rich in cultural experience, in knowledge and in life experience. Each country has left us something, stirred us up from inside but Japan stands out among our favourite places because of the wonderful experiences we had there… The tale of Cédric and Oleñka in Japan is here to tell you by episode by episode. I hope you enjoy it.
Since years, many years, to visit Japan was a recurring dream, for both of us. In 2010, I tried to get a scholarship for Studies for Peace in Japan; simply I wanted to go to that country and stay there for a while. Cédric had a similar attraction from Japanese literatures he read, his interest towards films and the culture in general. Both of us are lovers of Japanese food, we wanted to gobble up everything we don´t know and just wanted to live Japan from inside. But also beyond Tokyo as a big metropolis, we wanted to go deep into that boiling Tokyo, between all those districts, underground that is impossible to sit, millions of pedestrians crossing the streets, endless streets filled with impossible lights. For these reasons, an intentional way, our grand journey to Asia started and ended in Tokyo.
But Tokyo is kept in our memory, over all because of a indescribable company: the Okimori family. The Okimori is a traditional Japanese family who let us stay in their house in Saitama (next prefecture of Tokyo) during all our stay and helped us getting to know true Japan. I tell you a little bit about them.
Some years ago Hiromitsu´s father died but in his house there is a small altar for him, which is always full of offerings, incense and flowers. He was Shintoist. Yuriko Okimori is the mother of the family, hard worker, has curiosity about all foreign things, moreover without speaking any English, Spanish or French at all, she bravely took us for a walk and a shopping by herself. We communicated with only one small dictionary. She is Buddhist.
Miyuki Okimori is the younger sister of Hiromitsu, is loving, delicate and obedient, loves Paris and the European fashion. Miyuki was happy to help me writing and colouring my travel journal. Our friend Hiromitsu is super hard worker and thoughtful, is a wonderful company for sake, beer and yakitori, is suspicious, has a lot of sense of humour and one good day he threw himself to travel the world, grabbed a backpack on the shoulder and got to know more than 70 countries during two years.
Our story with the Okimori family began in 2010 through Hiromitsu. Cédric and I opened Couchsurfing in the online, which is a social network quite well known in the world that travellers stay in the house requested in advance. Hiromitsu Okimori was travelling the world with a backpack on his shoulder and wrote us for staying in our house in Madrid. You could say it was “friendship at first sight” from his first email. Cédric and I showed him our Madrid, we treated him as another friend of us and when he left, we felt that it wouldn´t be the last time to see him. It gave us interest towards Japan and crazily desire to go there and live. Two years later when I wrote and told him that we´d start our journey to Japan, he was so so happy and with his family (mother and sister) they started to organize our stay in their house in Saitama (outside of Tokyo). They showed us kindness and charm of Japanese culture with such a patience, and they prepared and put a lot of effort for us to be able to feel home and to get to know all their tradition deeply. All episodes we are going to tell about our experience in Tokyo are all because of them, their wanting to show us with all love they could give, how is their life, the food, their believes and their culture. Months before they bought a great book, A bilingual handbook on Japanese Culture and with that, we discovered everyday the activities we experienced…
… to be continued…
More about Japan adventure of Oleñka and Cédric is from born to be around the world.
Title photo title "Okimori Family enjoying their spanish paati with Olenka "
by Cédric Hernandez
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Happy New Year in Tokyo