I got a lovely e-mail yesterday from a California woman who visited my Web site of photos I took while living in Japan.
Her mother, who was born in the same small, rural farming town in which I lived, married an American GI following World War II. This is quite a coincidence because the town is very small. The woman believes her mother may have been married at one of the small Shinto shrines I photographed. The woman is preparing for a trip back to this town with her mother and her children, who will meet their cousins for the first time. The woman has few close relatives in America on her husband's side, so she feels especially close to her kin in Japan.
Receiving her e-mail rekindled all sorts of memories of my years in Japan. It especially brought back memories of the wall of culture shock I felt upon first arriving in Japan, made even more daunting by the rural area in which I found myself. I grew to resent the town, its inhabitants, its location -- in short, everything about it.
As I gradually became more flexible (beating my head against a wall got me only so far), I came to love, to truly love, living in the countryside. It's these memories that keep me going some days.
Over the past decade, I believe I have matured enough and become circumspect enough to make the most now of an opportunity such as the one I had of living in a small Japanese farming town.
Of course, I can't revisit the past. I had my chance. Eventually, I came to get the most out of it with the abilities and outlook I had at the time.
This woman's e-mail brought me back at light speed to a very special time and a very special place. It also reminded me of just how interconnected everything and everyone is.