For quite a while now, I have been regularly meeting a Japanese woman. She is great fun and we do a lot of things together: cooking, going out, visiting temples and shrines,… Most of the time however, we meet in her house and then we sit and chat – in both English and Japanese. We have recently started keeping a short diary (mine is in Japanese, hers in English), and when we meet, we exchange it and correct the other’s mistakes.

Friends by Jerry WeissI greatly enjoy meeting her, and we teach each other aspects of our culture. For example, she has helped me choosing the right Oseibo presents, and she has shown me how to cook some Japanese dishes. In return, I have recently explained why it is rude to have Christmas cards arrive after the holidays, even if they include new year wishes.

What I also enjoy is that – although she has never lived abroad – she is very open when it comes to answering more private questions about the Japanese. For example, she has explained that Japanese prefer group travel because of a need for security; and that they don’t bother much with elections because Tokyo (and thus the government) is “far away”.

She has also made a personal confession or two: She hopes that in her next life – she’s a practising Buddhist – she will get to marry a foreigner. Her biggest crush is Sean Connery (in his time as James Bond), which is something I don’t understand at all – I certainly draw the line at chest hair! She was greatly disappointed when I told her that all my European lovers were not very endowed in that respect, but then again, maybe Scottish men are different?

All in all, I hope that we can continue to build this friendship, and that it will last for a long time to come…