Before I got to Japan, I was told over and over again about how hospitable the Japanese are. I never doubted that they were, but in my short time in Kagoshima, I have experienced the truth of that statement. I could learn a lot from these people.
Yesterday I met Yuka, who took time on her birthday to guide me to my hotel. Tonight, I met Junichi and Ryoko Arimura… my relatives in Kagoshima. Juichi met me at my hotel and took me to Zino, a really nice restaurant in the area. What’s crazy is that I was researching places to eat online this morning and thinking about trying Zino (it got some really good reviews and is a recommended place to try for this area)!! They served Kurobuta (black-skinned) pork among a variety of other delicious foods. Kagoshima is famous for its Kurobuta pork, and NOW I KNOW WHY. That was perhaps some of the BEST pork I have ever had! It ranks up there with jamón ibérico de bellota from Spain. If you haven’t had either, don’t die without trying them.
Anyways, back to the story. So Junichi ordered a really delicious meal of sashimi, chicken, kurobuta, salad, steak with ponzu sauce, and a few other great side dishes. We struggled through trying to communicate with both broken Japanese and broken English, but were able to have a pretty good conversation despite it all. He was smart and brought a phrase book and dictionary… something I SHOULD have done but did not. Junichi has obviously got the brains of the family.
Junichi came from the other side of Kagoshima… on the opposite side of Sakurajima. He had to take a ferry to get here (I was told it took him 2-3 hours!!) and is staying at a different hotel tonight so he can take me around tomorrow and then drive me to the airport! I am completely overwhelmed with how nice and hospitable he is! Junichi obviously got the manners of the family too.
His sweet wife, Ryoko, joined us later… she also came by ferry. She also ordered more food for us when she came… some rice with some tasty fish shavings sprinkled on top, and some sort of pizza. I was full, but I tried some anyway… b/c I heart pizza (but that’s a whole other blog post). We finished off with some sweet potato ice cream! MMM.
I really enjoyed meeting and talking with the Arimura family. They were both extremely warm people. They treated me to dinner, and tomorrow, Junichi will pick me up in the morning to take me around and possibly meet his brother and their family. I’m still amazed at how nice they were! They’re thinking about coming to the U.S. in a few years. I can’t wait, so I can return the kindness they’ve shown me! That also means I only have a few years to learn more Japanese…
When I was growing up, my grandparents really did a lot to help raise me. I admired my grandpa a lot. He was sort of this gruff old Nisei man with a distinct Japanese accent (he went back to Japan for school when he was young). From the descriptions of what I hear about Kyushu men, my grandpa fits the bill… brave, tough, traditional, darker skin… and maybe a little hairy. Hah. I get my hairiness from my Kaminishi side. Anyways, I have always looked up to my grandpa, so it really means a lot that I got to meet the Arimuras. I feel like I got to connect with who I am through talking to them. I feel like my grandpa would have been happy to know I made a special trip to Kagoshima to find them.
And that makes me happy.
So far, Kagoshima is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been to… both because of the sights and the people. It makes me proud that a part of me is from here.
I leave you with some pics of Kagoshima…