But the most delightful person I met in Japan was a girl named Yuko. She was one of the first students I met and to this day I remember what she said in her first lesson with me. We were practising using the future tense and I'd asked them all to write down predictions about what they'd be doing in some future years.
Yuko was the first to read from her list, and her final prediction, almost 50 years into the future, has always stayed with me. “In 2050, I will walk down the street with my grandchildren.” It was simple, but beautiful, and such a lovely goal to have. The other students were talking about crazy stuff like living on the moon or being Prime Minister, but Yuko pictured a stroll in the neighbourhood with her grandkids.
Yuko and I quickly became friends, and she was the first person to introduce me to okonomiyaki, one of my favourite Japanese foods; she fuelled my new love for karaoke and we celebrated her birthday one year by meeting for karaoke at ten in the morning; she took me fishing, she showed me Kobe, and above all, we talked and laughed non-stop.
|Karaoke fun: Yuko's on the left|
Here's what I know:
Name: Yuko Yoshino (she married Hiro just before I left Japan - her maiden name was Murakami) (and yes, Yuko Yoshino is such a common name that I actually had another student in my school with the same name!)
Age: If I remember rightly, she was just one or two years older than me; so in her mid/late 30s now!
Family: she had a daughter named Anzu, who was born in March 2005. And a husband named Hiro, who last I heard was working in roofing.
Place: she was living close to Hyotanyama in Higashi-Osaka
Profession: I know she hoped to return to work as a dental assistant when her daughter started kindergarten.
|Yuko and her now-husband Hiro on a hot day in the sunflowers|