Laura and I feel as if we are going home to Yokohama, but for Chad it's a huge new adventure. I hope he'll have his own experience of Japan, through his own eyes.He's going to feel awfully tall there. It's lucky that he already likes the food.
As usual, the day before the trip to Japan is spent making sure there are enough omiyage gifts for the people we know. Chad and Laura are bringing duet CD's that they made. I got Chicago-logo stuff, plus piano scores for Mrs. Okuhara (Laura's piano teacher and my concert partner), and amber pins for Mrs. Furuya and Honda O-kaa-san. I always worry that there won't be enough presents. Nowadays I carry paper and tape separately in my luggage, so as to wrap things after we get there. No wrapped presents in luggage is a current plane-travel rule.
Another concern is Laura's allergy medication and my asthma inhalers. Gotta make sure we put them in the carry-on luggage, along with tooth stuff, neck pillows, novels to read, journals to write in, post cards, herbal jet-lag formula, a change of clothes in case of lost luggage, moisturizer, and on and on.
I've done this so many times.Once I'm on the plane, I sometimes wonder which trip this is. The first time Laura and went to Japan together, we were tense and traumatized beforehand.A terrible storm had drenched Chicago with 9" of rain the day before departure. I had cried all through the packing, feeling that we were jumping off a cliff as we moved to Asia.Our friends waited with us at the airport, trying to encourage us.
We walked to the departure gate and boarded. Then the plane took off. To our surprise, people all around us cheered, in Russian, toasting their trip in vodka. They seemed to include us in their party, even though we weren't drinking. And we felt our hearts lift off as well.
Back to the son-in-law theme: when I saw the waka poem below, I thought I must post it especially for Chad's folks, Ballantynes and Novaks of Iowa and Wisconsin. Who knew that Mori Ogai could write about cornfields and cows? Perhaps he saw them during the 4 years he spent receiving medical training in Germany.
Mori Ogai (1862-1922) (translated by Ueda Makoto)
Under the blue sky
In a dewy cornfield
In the morning sunlight
A caramel-colored cow
Aozora no moto ni tsuyukeki kimibata ya ametatsu ameushi hitotsu
Don't know exactly what some of the characters should be, since I have an edition only in romanization. I think part of the fun may come from the fact that, depending on the kanji, ame can be heaven, rain, or candy. Our ears can hear all meanings at once. I'll have to ask Ashikaga Sensei about it when I get back. I checked on the web but couldn't find a text of the poem in Japanese characters.