Sunday afternoon was devoted to visiting Okamoto Takehiro and his family at their house in Yokohama. Okamoto-san was a co-worker at Matsushita. I didn't directly work with him, as I was in the traffic control department and he was in the postal service department, but we met and became friends. We have somewhat similar personalities, both loving video games and electronic toys, and it was Okamoto-san who introduced me to digital cameras two years ago. Since then he (or his wife Yoko-san last year) has taken the picture of me that I've used on my homepage.
I used to go to an all-you-can-eat shabu shabu place with Okamoto-san, but last year he invited me to his house. On the second floor there are two rooms, one for him (which has a computer and other electronics toys) and one for Yoko-san, a music teacher, which has a piano. I love this arrangement. I wanted to hear Yoko-san play, but it was night. So this year they invited me during the afternoon.
Okamoto-san in front of his house after picking me up from the station.
The Okamoto family: Takehiro, Rina, and Yoko. Okamoto-san made some delicious spaghetti for lunch. Last year Yoko-san had made a wonderful dinner which included some particularly good salad dressing. I got the recipe and Kyoko makes this often now.
Rina-chan, taken by her father.
Yoko-san giving me piano lessons. I love this picture which almost makes me look serious--it looks like a composer and lyricist together working on a musical. Unfortunately I hadn't touched my keyboard for several month before visiting, and could hardly remember how to play. Yoko-san was very encouraging, though, and gave me some good pointers.
Yoko-san playing Bach. The piano is a Yamaha G3 6 foot baby grand, and sounds beautiful when she plays it.
The original plan for Sunday night was to visit my friend Kawabata (now Oodachi) Eriko, a former student of Kyoko's when she taught English at Matsushita. We always used to meet at Nankai, my favorite yakiniku restaurant (to appear Tuesday), and then go to karaoke. However now that Eriko-san has a baby that wasn't possible, and I was going to visit her at her house. But it turned out her baby had a fever, and I never was able to see Eriko-san this trip. Actually many of the friends I saw had children who were sick around this time, since it was abnormally cold in Tokyo, but most just had mild colds.
I quickly rearanged my schedule and saw Hara Kazuhiro and his family Sunday night instead. The Hara's were introduced to us in Japan by the MIT Japan Program, since Kazuhiro-san was about to go to MIT to get a master's degree. His wife Kazue-san accompanied him and fell in love with Boston and the US, and they visit when they can.
In Tokyo we used to meet in Ueno, but they too now had a baby so I visted them at their apartment in Kashiwa, Chiba, the first time I'd been there. This was also the first time I'd seen Kashiwa, and it turned out to be a very nice place. I was originally going to visit Wednesday night, since this is much closer to Higashi-mukoujima than to Yamate, and indeed it was rather a long trip from Yokohama to Chiba and then back. But it was perhaps for the best as Kazuhiro-san typically has to work late on week nights, and it wouldn't have been clear I could see him. Kazue-san made some excellent yakiniku for dinner.
Here's a picture of the Hara family: Kazue, Kazuhiro, and Michiaki.