One step at a time

Creating an enjoyable journey for myself and my family.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Mai Yoshikawa

17 months ago when we flew into Seattle from Osaka we thought we'd be on a plane back to Japan in eight weeks max. Ha! You know what they say about the best laid plans of mice and men. I can't believe things have worked out this way. 17 months ago I would not have believed anyone saying that we'd still be in Seattle more than a year later. Regardless of what I thought we'd be doing now, we aren't. Ha! It just makes me smile the way life seems to work out better than you ever imagined.

When our dreams of living in Japan ended we started lining out a plan to bring Japan to us. Two weeks ago our first Japanese guest arrived from Osaka. Mai Yoshikawa is 49 and she would kill me if she knew I told you that! Mai is here to improve her fluency in English, experience American culture, and shop! On her first night with us she asked why we were going to bed at 11 PM? In Japan, shopping can be done around the clock and Mai sleeps an average of only four hours a night to accommodate her favorite pastime. She would shop all day and all night if I would let her...but that wouldn't improve her fluency now would it? I know, I'm no fun at all.
Mai at Rain & Co. Salon/Dayspa

Mai has been working hard on basic vocabulary, verb conjugation and overcoming the overwhelming desire to say everything in Japanese. I'm so proud of her. Along with English lessons she has been able to attend the Pacific Northwest Ballet's Nutcracker, spend a day at the spa, workout American-style, shop at five different Malls, try Mexican food for the first time ever and attend several American Christmas parties and concerts. We are planning a trip to Victoria, B.C. this weekend. Before she returns to Japan we are going to go snowboarding at least once among other exciting activities.

Our whole family is pitching in to make this experience unforgettable for Mai. Her husband sent her a box of Japanese movies, which she really needed considering we sleep for 8 hours a night. Off the bat they wouldn't play in our "Region 1" players. Fortunately, I am married to a technology genius. Adam hacked a DVD player and made the movies play. Mai practically cried with happiness. Go Adam! Despite his many successes with Mai, he will never be make all of her American dreams come true, she wants meet Harrison Ford. LOL.

We are really enjoying having Mai here. She is helping us with our Japanese. We laugh during every lesson and almost every conversation. One of her favorite topics to discuss is how big everything in American is, including Americans! Time to hit the gym. :) The girls adore Mai and like to help her with her English. "No, no Mai, L-unch, not runch-e," said Teryn.

She is teaching me how to make Japanese food twice a week...she asked to because she needs a break from all this crazy American food. She is NOT a fan of Kraft Mac & Cheese. Her exact sentiment was, "Noodles, yes, cheese, yes, noodles and cheese, NO." Haha! Mai bought some umeboshi (pickled plums) last time we went to Uwajimaya (local Japanese grocery store). Shoot. me. in. the. face. Yuck! So sour. Everything else Mai has cooked I have LOVED and so have the kids. She made yakisoba one night and okonomiyaki tonight. 100% successes. She's like the Japanese mother-in-law I never had. She also taught me the Japanese way to prepare rice; rice we had to shop at four different stores to find. She's kinda picky about her rice. :)

There is a Japanese saying:
雨降って地固まる (ame futte chi katamaru) Literally: after the rain, earth hardens 

Meaning: Adversity builds character./After a storm, things will stand on more solid ground than they did before.

Being jarred  from Utah, to Japan, back to Seattle and now to Kent has been difficult but I am very thankful for the more solid ground I'm standing on now. I hope Mai will enjoy her time in America, rain or shine.