My sister Nancy and our cousin Ken-chan.
Our cousin Kenichi Kono is 62-years-old and retired from his job earlier this year. Ken-chan's mother, whom we call Auntie, is our mother's older sister.
We take it for granted that no matter where we live in Columbus, we can get to downtown, Fort Benning or Columbus Park Crossing in less than 30 minutes.
People in Tokyo travel long distances to get to work.
Ken-chan used to work for a company based in Yokohama. He would get up, eat and be on the road by 4:30 a.m. because the traffic wasn't too bad at that time of the day. It would take about two hours. He'd get there about 6:30 a.m. and he'd sleep in his car for about half an hour and then go to his office. At night, he'd get home around 8 p.m. And he did that for years.
I'm not sure I could do that.
Now, he's got all sorts of time on his hands and I think he was really happy that we were there.
And so was his wife, Mariko. She told my mother that every day, he'd get the newspaper and read it. Then he'd look through the ads. If there is a new store or restaurant, he'd go try it out.
Just like here, grocery stores will have flyers in the paper once a week. He'll check out all the flyers and compare prices than go grocery shopping.
My mother said it must be nice to have him do that for her. Mariko laughed and said he sometimes just buys useless things.
It was a good thing for us because he knows where all the little mom-and-pop restaurants. We ate very well the three-and-a-half weeks we were there. We went to a different grocery store every day. I'm not kidding. He asked how many grocery stores we had in Columbus. We told him that there were what, four chains and some independent stores? I think he said there were almost 20 different stores. That's a lot.
Ken-chan also loves schedules. Every night when he dropped us off, he'd say he'd pick us up at 8:50 a.m. That's right, 8:50 a.m. Not 8:30 a.m. Not 8:45 a.m. Not 9 a.m. And he'd come earlier than that, of course.
You don't know how many mornings I stumbled out the house with wet hair and no makeup. I don't think I had makeup on more than a couple of times while I was in Japan.