Sunday, September 9, 2012

Liking Tokyo

Learning to like a city of 36 million inhabitants is pretty easy actually. Easier than one would expect. When I say I like Tokyo, it does not mean I would like to live there, but I would certainly like to visit there again. The reason I would like to visit there again is simply the Kamota family.

As I mentioned in my previous post, Uichi Kamota, the patriarch of the Kamota family, met us at the airport and drove us to his home, two and a half hours across the world's biggest city. We stayed the next three nights in the Kamota's home and enjoyed true Japanese hospitality.

Margot originally got to know the Kamota family when they lived in Sydney many years ago while Uichi was working in Australia for Komatsu. While they lived in Sydney they employed Margot to be an English tutor for their second son Keisuke, who was only about five years old at the time. They developed a close bond with Margot and they have kept in touch with each other over the years. A few years ago they came to stay with us for a few days, which was when I first got to know this wonderful family.

Uichi and Noriko have 3 children and I think 3 grandchildren. Their oldest son, Kuni, was born with Downes Syndrome, and is a delight to be around. He is less inhibited and more affectionate than you might find with most people. He can also be a lot of fun! Keisuke is the second oldest son and he is now in his late thirties, married, and has two young daughters. Their daughter, Marisa, is also married and has one or two kids.

Keisuke and his family share a double storey home in Tokyo with his Mum and Dad, and they very graciously managed to accommodate the four of us for the 3 nights. We all really enjoyed the food and just being with them. One day Uichi took us in towards central Tokyo on the train and then Margot navigated us around various parts of Tokyo on the train. This was a different experience and we were certainly glad that Margot knew where she was going. So many people and so many trains and stations and shops! Sometimes at some stations it seemed that there were 18 million people going in one direction and the other 18 million going in another direction and we were  sort of in the middle of it all!

Then we spent a day at Disneyland and I think all of Tokyo followed us there. This was where Kuni was a great asset to have with us. We found ourselves queue jumping at a fantastic rate and we really didn't understand why to start with. It seemed like we were getting VIP treatment everywhere we went. There would be 1.5 hour queues to get on some rides and Uichi would flash some pass and we were all guided in past all the waiting people and put straight on the ride. We first thought that Uichi had paid a fortune for some express pass, but we later learned that having Kuni with us gave us some sort of preferential treatment.
We were very grateful for this of course as most people would, I am sure, take several visits to Disneyland to go on the number of rides that we went on.

Me with the High Priest Group

The day after Disneyland we went to Church at a ward near the Kamotas home. There were a number of English speakers in the the Ward and it was a really uplifting experience. I especially liked going to the High Priest Group meeting. The older brother to my right in the photo is a former mission president and the elder statesman of the group. The leader (who for some strange reason reminded me of a young Chris George, the HPGL in Geelong) is directly in front of me.

L to R. (adults) Margot, Kuni, Uichi, Noriko, Miriam, Keisuke, Josie , Midori and me kneeling. Akanechan and Aoichan are in front of Keisuke. At Narita Airport, about to leave for Melbourne.
It was an emotional farewell at Narita Airport. Who know's when we will see the Kamota's again? I  hope it't not too long!

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