Tuesday, September 29, 2009

What you don't look for you find.

While I was in the military, a long time ago, I made friends with an American attorney attached to the IG's (Investigating General's) office. He was a second or third generation Japanese, born and raised in Honolulu, and was very wealthy. We both were assigned to an American Air Base, about 2 hours from Tokyo. Even though I became enamored with Japan and the Japanese, I had never thought of marrying a Japanese. But my friend's ambition was to do just that; and it had to be a well respected Japanese girl, not a bar girl, etc. I had been told by my family, before I left for Japan, not to bring back a Japanese wife. I did not even want to get married to any girl, at that time. I was 26 and after many years at the university, I just wanted to be free to do what I wanted.

My wealthy friend rented an apartment in Tokyo and paid the many fees associated with doing just that. Every time he was not on duty, especially on the weekends, he would leave the base for his apartment and go 'hunting' for a wife. He would go to department stores, parks, zoos; you name it, but he never could find his dream. I, on the other hand, didn't want to get married, but loved Tokyo so much, I did the same as my friend, except I stayed in the Bachelor Officers Quarters (BOQ), located near Shibuya. I could not afford the cost of an apartment, even though the exchange rate was ¥360 to the $ and costs for goods were low.

I almost always had a 3 bedroom room at the BOQ to myself . After having been out late one night, I returned to my quarters and went to bed. Upon awakening, I found one of the other beds was occupied. We introduced ourselves. He was on R&R (rest and relaxation) from Korea and had arrived after I had gone to bed. His wife had given her blessing for him to come to Tokyo, if he would bring her back some silk. He asked me if I knew of such a place to buy silk and I told him, I did. I determined what quality of silk his wife wanted and we went to Shibuya for breakfast and a department store to buy the silk. He found the department store as interesting as I always did, so I suggested we start on the top floor and go down and look around, one floor at a time, until we came to where the silk material was sold.

On the top floor a bunch of artists were seated and drawing caricatures of the many patrons. There must have been 8 or more artists, but one's caricatures were special to me. Helping the artists by handing out the paper that was used to draw upon and collecting the money which was going to typhoon victims in another area of Japan, was this beautiful Japanese girl in a kimono.

We watched the artist, that I liked, draw for quite awhile, and then started to leave. As we walked away the good-looking girl tapped me on my shoulder and told me in hesitant English that her father wanted to draw my face. So we returned and I sat in front of the artist I had been watching. After he finished, I went to pay him but he refused, stating I was a guest in Japan and he could not take my money. I reasoned with him and told him this was for charity. His English, while not great, was better than my Japanese. He made me promise I would come to his house for dinner. I did not get to pay!

You have to picture Japan in the early 60s. Americans were still not welcome in many sections of Tokyo. Ikebukero, as an example, had been leveled by the bombing and though I always went with my Japanese friends, I was not allowed to enter any of the establishments, until my friends and I had tried 4-5 times. Finally, I was welcomed. For my future wife's father to invite me to dinner, at his home, was unheard of.

I told him I would have to wait several weeks, as I was preparing a speech for a meeting in Manila and had to do research, prepare and attend the meeting. I told him upon my return I would come to dinner, but I forgot all about it. My future father-in-law's pen name was similar to one of my Japanese friend's name. Upon my return from the Philippines, my house boy (yes, officers in the BOQ had house boys) told me someone had called and left a message for me to call back. I did so and my future wife answered the phone. I was so surprised and if her father or brothers had answered, I am sure I would of thought it was my friend's home. I ended up going for dinner almost every weekend. My future mother-in-law was an excellent cook and made me Japanese dishes, Chinese dishes, Western-style dishes....in other words with little in the way of a kitchen she was a gourmet cook.

After our marriage and return to California, we had two children. My mother-in-law came to live with us for one year. My father-in-law, who I had grown very close to, refused to fly on a plane and would not come to visit. One of my brother-in-laws graduated from veterinary college and came to live with us for one year. Two of my friends were veterinarians and invited him to watch and learn American techniques at their office.

The moral to this story, don't look for what you want and you might just get it!

1 comment:

  1. Great story! I was really enjoying it until you abruptly ended it ^^;. I for one would love to hear more about your life and experiences in Japan! You have the veil of anonymity, so are well placed to speak boldly about most things ;)