I'm living in Kusatsu-shi, Shiga-ken for an undetermined amount of time and teaching English as a second language at a local high school. This journal is to document my experiences, thoughts, and to stay connected with others at home and abroad.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Shingo and Chika's wedding

I met Shingo during my senior year at UGA when I began taking Japanese classes. He was studying business at Terry College and playing club men's volleyball, but I met him through the Japanese department, where he was helping with Japanese foreign exchange students assist the courses. Shingo had been living in America four three years at that point (after a year in Singapore and Australia).

As I said he was helping teach Japanese classes, but not the one that I was taking, so ironically we didn't really know each other that well at first. However, when I came to first visit Katie in Shiga in the winter of 2005, I was talking to Shingo and he said, "Really, you're going to Shiga? I live in Shiga!"

During that vacation when I came to see Katie, Shingo was also home to see his family, and he and his fiancée, Chika, took us out for yakiniku (Korean BBQ) and karaoke. Shingo, a friend of his, and I also went to Shigaraki, the major pottery town in Shiga and one of the most famous in Japan. He also introduced me to the Japanese sento (public bath), for which I am very grateful. Not knowing the dos and don'ts, it could have been quite awkward being naked for the first time in a large room of strangers--not exactly the time one wants to make an egregious social blunder.

The ironic twist to meeting and becoming friends with Shingo, is that for the past 1 1/2 years I've been living in Japan, his home country, while he's been finishing out his business degree at UGA, my home state and alma mater. After quite a long absence (albeit with a few visits here and there on holiday) Shingo finally returned back to Minakuchi in December of 2007 (while I was in Cambodia), and he and Chika begin making the plans for their wedding in March.

As you can hopefully see, the ceremony was splendid. I'm suppose I was a bit surprised, because there were few differences between their wedding and what I would assume what a similar event would be like at home (it's been long enough to forget). Katie and I, as well as some other American and Japanese friends from Shiga, Kobe, and yes, Athens, were all in attendance. The food was amazing, good enough to forget being a "vegetarian" for a few hours (how could I let such succulent sushi and duck go to waste?). Hearing the story of their relationship (too long too enumerate) also helped Katie and I to feel closer than we have been in quite a while. There's nothing like love to bring lovers closer together.

Sadly Shingo's new job has taken both he and Chika to Tokyo. No less than two weeks after the ceremony in Minami-Kusatsu (a bike ride from my apartment), Shingo and Chika were moved into their new apartment in the world's largest black hole of human inspiration. I actually visited them during a research conference I participated in (in Tokyo, my favorite!).

Best of luck in Tokyo! I'd be worried and very reluctant to make a similar move, but I hope their love can help them to make it into the 24th century and 7 dimensions that are the Tokyo subway. Godspeed!


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