Chasing Cherry Blossoms
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Monday, May 7, 2012

Mama and Papa Kemp Do Japan!

Now, I don't want to be one to labour a joke (Facebook friends, beware), but it's been over nine months since I first touched down in the Big J. Man, I could've had a baby in that time. So could there be any better time for my own Ma and Pa to pay me a visit and see the new Japanese life these thighs have borne? (Metaphor getting awkward now).

We planned my parents' visit for Golden Week - the week in the Japanese calendar most rife with national holidays - so that, despite only taking four days off work, I was able to spend a chunky eleven days showing them around my new home! Together we got hustled and bustled in Tokyo, took in Hiroshima's biggest festival of the year (the 2012 Hana Matsuri), and spent a booze-fuelled few days relaxing with my friends here in Johen!

Gyoen National Park in Shinjuku, Tokyo was really a sight worth seeing!

Meeting my friends!

Yakiniku: just one of the Japanese delicacies my parents got to try during their stay!

Not only had there been a gap of almost a year since I last saw my parents, but also my circumstances have (obviously) undergone something of a complete overhaul. I mean, I guess I had my first taste of living away from home "independently" when I started university aged 18. But, even then, that was only in eight-week doses. And, financially, I was still Bank of Mum and Dad's most loyal customer. Since coming to Japan, however, not only have I built my life from scratch, disentangled from any residual apron springs, but I'm financially independent too: I earn my own salary, buy my own groceries and pay my own bills. Destiny's Child, eat that shit up.

Dubious pop references aside, this has a point: it was the first time I'd seen my parents where I felt like I was meeting them as an adult, rather than as their child. And not just an adult, but an adult on whom my parents, speaking no Japanese in (what is to them) a foreign country, were entirely dependent. It was a dynamic I hadn't really anticipated when planning their arrival all those months ago. Of course, I did my best not to let it stand in the way of ensuring they had the amazing holiday they deserved. I just didn't expect to be so suddenly thrown back into the kind of child's life I'd left back in England! Nevertheless, looking back on their visit now, I think I can safely say it was a case of mission most certainly accomplished! My parents got to see a slice of the dynamism of Japanese life (both city and inaka), try some amazing Japanese foods, meet my even more amazing Japanese friends and be subject to my dubious attempts to show off all the Japanese I've learnt! Of course, not everything ran without a hitch. For the first few days, it certainly seemed that the old adage "Everywhere you go, you always take the weather with you" had cursed the trip, as overnight the glorious Japanese sunshine was replaced with a dreary British rain. Luckily, there was the breathtaking sights at Miyajima, Hiroshima to make everything better!

Oh, wait. Yeah, I guess that one didn't exactly work out, either. But when you've got an amazing pair of parents in a country as amazing as Japan, even a few bumps in the road don't amount to much! Interestingly, my parents also said they thought I'd developed a bit of an accent since leaving home last year. I guess that's something it'd be impossible for me to gauge myself, but I'm intrigued to see if my other family and friends think the same upon my return!

Anyway, thanks Mum and Dad for coming to visit! See you again in December!

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Blogger Rod said...

Hi James,

I don't know whether you saw my message to you on Facebook, but I asked you a while back if you'd like to write for Your breezy writing style would suit us perfectly, and we really need someone to cover Uwajima.


May 18, 2012 at 4:33 PM  
Blogger stranger-in-seoul said...

Hey Rod!

Sorry, I'm awful at checking my Facebook inbox! Just became editor of the JET magazine, so a bit rushed off my feet right now, but I'm intrigued! What kind of things are you looking for?

May 20, 2012 at 9:47 PM  
Blogger Rod said...

Hi James,

Sorry for not spotting your reply earlier.

Basically we need 350 words and 4 photos or more about tourist spots, bars, restaurants, festivals, onsen, activities and anything that tourists would be interested in. This sort of thing;

Having some travel writing to your name would complement your editing nicely on the old CV I should think.

May 30, 2012 at 7:56 PM  

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