Thousands of Miles from Home


Rapid Volley

As a quick supplement to the last post, Kimura-san, my Japanese school teacher, told me that when she was a child (in addition to The Ramen and Bread Men) The Tofu, Goldfish, and Nikuman (steamed meat roll) Men used to frequent her neighborhood, often on bicycle. Ah, those were the days.

Last weekend, Japanese friends of Kimura-sensei from America came to visit her in Okayama, so I was invited along for the fun. And so it was that I met Cherry-Elizabeth Aiko Lippold, along with her mother, on a Sunday evening at Okayama Station. Kimura-sensei and her husband, Dr. K, treated us to a delicious meal at a fancy Okayama restaurant, where I also got the chance to meet two of Kimura-san’s children, Yuka and Shizuka, for the first time.

Cherry’s life story is exciting, long, and not easily remembered, but I can tell you that she lived in Iwakuni and Okinawa for many years before moving to the US and eventually attending Kansas University as a Languages Major. We talked most of the evening about how it felt to be back in Japan (it has been a few years since she has been in the country, and had already spent time in Tokyo, Kyoto, and Iwakuni for a few weeks). She also gave me a little info about current events in the US, which made me feel more than slightly out of the loop (when did Dave Chappelle move to Africa?)

Back at Kimura-sensei’s house, old photo albums were taken off the shelves to display pictures of Cherry in Japan and the Kimura family’s trip to the US in the late 80s. I spoke more with the rest of the Kimura family, Cherry, and her mother before sleeping the night in a REAL BED, my first non-hotel non-futon bed since coming to Japan. I thought I was going to fall off and kill myself.

The next day we did a little shopping in Okayama, ate lunch, and toured the area before I bid goodbye to the crew and made my way back to Tamano.

On Tuesday was the great “Tamano High School Volleyball Tournament,” which gave me a slightly burned face and an elevated sense of self esteem. My team, which was pre-selected some weeks before, made it to the final round before losing to some third years due to general team apathy (in truth, three players on my team were in the volleyball club and didn’t want to “flaunt their skillz” to a boastful extent). In other news, I have acquired a wicked volleyball serve, but can’t “bump” or “set” for the life of me. However, in Japan I am sort of tall in relation to the other students, so spiking the ball makes me look like a white Kareem Abdul Jabbar.

And the crowd goes wild...


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