Very shortly after arriving in Japan, Easter happened. I didn’t really know anyone yet, so my plans mostly consisted of taking the opportunity to eat a vast array of Japanese sweets. At the last minute my partner and I were invited from an acquaintance of an acquaintance to a picnic. Too excited to wait, I enjoyed some of the various sweets before going to the picnic. I particularly enjoyed the daifuku mochi.
Most of the picnic attendees were of a different age group and different stage in their lives. My partner and I made some smalltalk, but there was someone who made a special effort to talk to us. She was burning with questions and genuine interest in us two clueless foreigners, and we talked for most of the picnic. Her English was exceptionally good, which was lucky for both of us. We were feeling very guilty for our bad Japanese, and were very grateful to her for indulging us. She gave us her businesscard, and it turned out she works at the museum of ethnology, of particular interest to my partner’s and my academic areas.
Soon after this picnic she invited us to a lecture, and then later to her house to experience an everyday Japanese dinner with the family. Since then we have seen her quite regularly, and she always shares interesting insights and is also interested in our wide-eyed experiences in Japan. It’s worth keeping in mind what wonderful people can become good friends if one remains open to it.