Edmonds Sister City Dispatches: Reconnecting with students, experiencing Japanese food

Paul Anderson with Shihoko Miki (our host daughter in Edmonds), Miho Mukai and Yuri Matoya.
Paul Anderson with Shihoko Miki (his host daughter in Edmonds), Miho Mukai and Yuri Matoya.

By Paul Anderson

I came to Japan for several reason besides the Edmonds Sister City’s 25th Anniversary, including to meet up with students that I had hosted in Edmonds as part of their U.S. visits, and to experience the Japanese culture. Tuesday, I was fortunate to do just that.

I met three students — Shihoko Miki, Yuri Matoya and Miho Mukai — from Kwansei Gakuin University. (My wife and I were the host family for Shihoko Miki.) We had a traditional lunch cooked at our table. I was thinking it was a little warm when we sat down. I’m glad I didn’t touch the middle of the table, which was our hot grill. With chop sticks in hand I managed to get most of the food to my mouth.

I had told them that I collected Hard Rock Café guitar pins. What I didn’t know was there were two in Osaka and they were going to take me to both. This required subways and trains, something I have always wanted to do. Maybe in the U.S. it would be easy, but I was grateful for the help, buying tickets from a machine, putting the ticket in the gate, grabbing them on the other side after they had been punched, riding the train and making sure you didn’t lose your ticket so you could deposit as you walked out the last gate. We had to transfer several times and did the same thing over again. You could tell I was new at this because I’m hanging on to the rings for dear life. Everyone else stood like we weren’t moving.

After we stopped at the first Hard Rock, it was on to the second one near Universal Studios. I’m glad to say I am the proud owner of four new pins. Of course, we had to stop and take pictures. Now was the time to go back and I’m thinking we have to do that long ride all over again. One short trip and we are back at Osaka Station, and I’m wondering how we did it on one train.

Being in construction for 38 years, the trip on the trains afforded me a chance to see how buildings were built in Japan. I don’t think there were two that were alike. Most were older and very small with unique roof designs.

After we arrived at the station, Miho, Shihoko, Yuri and I figured out how I would get to Nagoya next week to meet up with the delegation. We figured the cheapest way was by bus to Nagoya Station and express train to the airport. I’m glad I had the train experience now. With that done, it was time for Shihoko to leave. She still had a one-and-a-half-hour train ride home to Himeji to the west of Osaka.

With Yuri at the "hole in the wall" restaurant.
With Yuri at the “hole in the wall” restaurant.

After Yuri’s father got off work, I was about to get the treat of a life time. They took me to a little hole in the wall (and I mean hole in the wall) where we walked back into the kitchen. We ate standing up, watching our food be cooked over a flame grill. I will just say we had chicken, I hope. It was delicious though. I think I will remember that forever. We then went off to a bar to drink tea — for me and Yuri — and beer for Yuri’s father and a former coworker who spoke perfect English. I thought I was back in the states with all the U.S. license plates, poster and songs being played.

Then it was back to the hotel where I thought I would write this article, but it didn’t happen because I fell asleep with laptop on my lap.

Besides, there was always today.

Edmonds Sister City Commissioner Paul Anderson is writing regular reports about the commission’s visit to Japan, part of a 25th anniversary trip honoring Edmonds’ Sister City relationship with Hekinan, Japan. Edmonds Mayor Dave Earling and his wife Sue will head a delegation of 28 community members going to the Japanese city April 1-8.

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