I arrived to Saiki in the early afternoon. It was a small town located on the eastern coast of Kyushu. My host, Sarah, invited me to a potluck dinner she was having at her Kimekomi-Ningyo (The 280-year-old art of fabric-covered wooden Japanese dolls) sensei’s home. Yamada sensei invited another ALT (English teacher) with her boyfriend, a Honduran/Japanese couple and two 50some year old ladies who were also her students. We spent the evening eating home-made meal, talking about travels, listening to rain and watching her grand-daughter’s concert. Beppu Yutsuki is an 11 year old girl who lives in Boston and plays violin so professionally, she’s been invited to perfom in Carnegie Hall. Yamada sensei was so proud of her grand-daughter, she glowed every time she talked about her.
The dolls that Yamada Sensei has made
Dolls in the process
I was supposed to leave the next day but the rain kept hard at it and so I decided to stay one more night. The Honduran girl, Alexa, and I clicked well and we met up the next day to explore the city. Fortunately, the rain turned into a mini-typhoon and we had to spend a lot of time inside. And so I got a chance to meet some wonderful people. First was a 55 year old couple who ran an Italian restaurant. We stopped by their place for 5 minutes but ended up spending 2 hours. Somehow our conversation about travels turned into a very deep and meaningful conversation about life. We shared our views about the world, wars, people’s journeys, dreams and achievements. We all were very touched by our revealed thoughts and feelings and felt sad when we had to part. They gave me a very precious gift, a bag of rice which they grow themselves in their small backyard.
In the evening, Alexa took me to her samba lesson class. The teacher was a Brazilian woman. Sandra has so much fire, passion and positivity, her class keeps growing bigger and bigger. She travels for hours to other cities just so she can give her students the joy of being in her company and learning this beautiful and energetic dance. Her life story is not a fairytale. She met a Japanese man many years ago, moved to Japan and gave birth to two girls. However the marriage didn’t work out and soon she was divorced, alone in a foreign country and with two children. She struggled through many hardships but they never swayed her from being happy about life and kept her optimistic in the face of adversity. And although I found the class to be quiet difficult, for a few hours that I spent in her presence, I felt more energized than after a full night’s rest. Her whole being beamed from the inside and her eyes radiated a brilliant glow which touched everyone in the class.
I was very happy rain kept me in Saiki.