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My Trip to the Orient - Part 6

Editor’s Note: This series of articles is taken from a diary kept by Nikkei Canadian Alyssa Erin Woo, then ten years old, during her trip to Japan with her grandparents.

Part 5 >>

Saturday, July 9, 2005 – Kyushu Here We Come!

This morning, we left for Kyushu Island where Ba-chan used to live for a while during 1946 to 1955.  We met Kazuo-san, her cousin; Yasuyuki-san, his son; and Shoji Hibata, her second cousin and they took us to a high-classed hotel called Rihga Royal Hotel at Kokura.

We went to Ba-chan’s university and ate lunch in the cafeteria and it was good.  The university was huge!  There was a piano, a little computer lab, and even a store to buy souvenirs, school supplies, CDs and much more!

Visit to their alma mater, Kita Kyushu University by Ba-chan, Shoji Hibata and Yasuyuki Suyama

We also met Ba-chan’s friend Yuni-san and her husband at the hotel lobby.  They gave us colourful silk kerchiefs.

For dinner, we went to an elaborate Chinese restaurant where we met more of Ba-chan’s relatives (father Suyama side).  We ate things like chicken, noodles, salad and a lot more.

Chinese dinner with Suyama cousins at Kokura

That night, Ji-chan fell asleep on his glasses and broke them.

* * *

Sunday, July 10, 2005 – Travelling to Katsumi-san’s and Yoshiko-san’s Place

Today, we went to Corbeille, a buffet style breakfast with both Japanese and American breakfasts.  It was delicious!

After breakfast, I found out my sunglasses were missing.  I looked all over for them but couldn’t find them.  Ji-chan and I remembered that I must have forgotten them at the Chinese restaurant.  Ji-chan couldn’t remember the way back to the restaurant, but I remembered every step of the way.  We waited for a while before the restaurant opened.  Finally, when the restaurant opened, the guy there thought we wanted food, but we told him that I lost my sunglasses.  Luckily, he found them and kept them so he gave them to me.

Yasuyuki-san and his father drove us to Shiida where Ba-chan’s cousins live.  On our way, we stopped at Joyfull for lunch.  I ate spaghetti and ice cream.  Yasuyuki-san showed me a neat trick using toothpicks.  It’s a thinking game.

When we got to Katsumi-san’s, Ba-chan’s cousin and his wife Yoshiko-san’s house (this was to be our headquarters for several days), a lot of people were there already to welcome us.

I liked playing with Minako-san, Keiji-san’s wife; and Kayoko-san, Katsumi-san’s and Yoshiko-san’s daughter.  They took pictures of me with them on their cell phone and gave the pictures to me.

We had a great feast dinner and I really enjoyed the chicken.

Welcome Party from Ba-chan's Takeshita cousins in Uruzu

* * *

Monday, July 11, 2005 –Meeting Many Friends and Relatives in Uruzu

When I woke up, I went downstairs for breakfast.  We had ham, boiled egg, lettuce and the thickest slice of toast I ever had.

We went to give our respect to Ba-chan’s parents (my great Ba-chan and Ji-chan.) at Nokotsudo (the deceased ashes are placed in urns) inside the Butsudan Shrine. This was built around 197l, as the cemetery plot lands are scarce in Japan.  

Nokotsudo

I was wearing many layers of clothes and I didn’t care how warm it was because I just didn’t want any more mosquito bites!

We were invited to lunch at cousin Yo-chan, and Mieko‘s house.  I had somen and it was really good.

Rosie & me at Yukuhashi

After, Katsumi-san drove us to Rosie Tanaka’s house (Ba-chan’s friend, who lived in Oakland, California, U.S.A. before).  We prayed for her mother who passed away at the age of 96.  Rosie gave me lots of presents.  I got a stuffed dog, a kitty cat change purse, a kitty mirror and ¥1,000.

Rosie liked her presents from Canada too!  She wanted to give some of them back because we were giving her so much, but she liked them a lot and didn’t know what to give back.

We went for dinner with Tadayoshi and Kinji Matsumoto, Suyama cousin side and more relatives at a fancy restaurant near Hamamiya.  The scenes were magnificent along the seashore with lots of picturesque pine trees growing.

We ate Kaiseki dinner, which is elaborate seafood plates of things cooked or raw which I have never experienced before in Canada.  I had hamburger dish, specially cooked for me.

After dinner, I received a pair of Geta (kimono wooden shoes) from Hatsumi Suyama.  They were beautiful.  They went really well with my kimono Ji-chan bought me in Kyoto.

We also went to see Ba-chan’s high school friend Sumiko Ozamoto.  The last time Ba-chan and Mom went to see her in 1971, Mom fell into the rice paddy ditch riding on her bicycle and Sumiko-san’s Veterinarian husband patched her up.  Ji-chan took a picture of the ditch.

Part 7 >>

**All photographs are courtesy of the author.

© 2010 Alyssa Erin Woo

Canadian identity Japan Japanese Canadian kyushu trip uruzu