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My Mother's Annual Visits to Japan

Updated on March 22, 2014

My Mother Visits with a Suitcase Full of Questions

I left home at the age of 15 and although I've had a rough childhood that I wouldn't want to relive, my adult years were mostly filled with happy memories. Once the drama of personal issues out of the way, our family has learned to love each other for who we are. It's definitely not the easiest thing to do, still we keep on trying because in the end, we only have each other. We are family and nothing can or will ever replace that.

Since I moved away to a completely different country at a young age, I don't get to see my family as often as I'd like to. I used to miss my family a lot and my mother knew that. She used to get so worried and worked up about me and would fly over from Hawaii to see me when she could. With every visit, she had a suitcase full of questions for me. "Are you eating?" "Is your health OK?""Why in the world are you still with this guy?"

Then she visited me again the next year. And the next. And then the next.

With each visit, she had more to ask.

"Are you sick?" " Why is your house so messy?" " When was the last time you cut your hair?"

After more than 20 years living in Japan, my mother has been coming to visit me almost every year. It has become an annual tradition and with every visit, I get to know my mother just a little bit more.

*Photos taken by myself unless otherwise noted.

Real Stories of Moms

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The Mother of All Meltdowns: Real Stories of Moms' Finest (Worst, Completely Awful) Moments

30 stories from different real-life moms tell their story of how it really is. Hilarious and entertaining, this book is a must-read for moms everywhere. Highly recommended by my sister.

mother and Shinichi
mother and Shinichi

Learning About My Mother's Past

The first time my mother came to visit me was back in 1992. I had just moved over to Tokyo against my mother's wishes and for the first month or so, she wouldn't speak to me. But I was OK with that because I was young, restless and knew that it was what I needed to do. I wanted to explore the world and experience what it was like to live in different city and there was no stopping me, even my own mother. Sure I had no job to call my own, but I knew what I had to do.

Only days after my arrival in Tokyo, I felt lonely and wondered if my mother had been right all along. Maybe I should have listened to her and stayed on with what she thought was a stable and well-paying job. Having said that, I had never felt more excited to be alive and knew that I had made the right decision.

Just six months after my arrival in Tokyo, my mother paid me a visit to see how I was doing. Her visit was awkward at best and our conversations were often filled with uncomfortable silence. Still it was nice to see her again and I was happy to spend time with her. As the years went by and her visits more frequent, I learned a lot about my mother and her colorful past.

For example, there were many things I didn't know ( or didn't want to know ) about my grandmother, who I've always put on a pedestal. This was also the first time I heard about my mother's difficult time during her marriage to my father and how my grandmother treated her with very little respect.

Although this news initially came as a shock to me, I was happy that she shared this these tidbits of family history with me. I learned to appreciate my mother more than ever and despite her flaws, loved her more for doing the best she could during some truly difficult times.

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Getting to Know Even More Fun Facts

toshiko and shinichi mine
toshiko and shinichi mine

My mother has visited me almost every year since and when she couldn't for one reason or another, I was always just a little bit sad. Of course I tried to visit Hawaii as much as I could but my mother visiting me in Japan was always extra special.

As the years passed, I learned even more juicy information and interesting trivia about my mother. For example, I found out that she didn't care much for sushi and this was something that I never knew before. Strange, but true. Here are some other things that I learned about her.

*My mother never smoked in front of her parents and lied about it.

*Her favorite fruits are persimmon, peaches and kyoho grapes.

*She loves eating at buffets as it keeps her from getting bored.

*She doesn't care for art of any kind.

*She always sleeps at 9:30 PM sharp.

*Gets bored easily.

*Loves rice balls but hates rice

Random things I know.

Sharing Your Life Story

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Mom, Share Your Life With Me

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Planning for My Mother Visits

mother and me
mother and me

Most of the time, I try to plan out a rough schedule for when she visits. Once her trip has been made official, I get super excited and find myself staying up all night to make elaborate plans. I buy a half dozen magazines and books to study in preparation for her arrival. I make sure to clean the apartment and have her favorite foods ready for her in case she's too tired to go out on the day of her arrival. I also plan out detailed itineraries as well as excursions to out-of-town places such as a visit to a nice hot springs resort.

Once I tell her about my intricate plans that could fill an entire book itself, she's usually exhausted and falls asleep from her long flight, while mumbling something about it all being too insanely complicated. Pffffttt.....

Just to add some variety, I started taking my mother to other countries in Asia and a couple of times, even to Europe. Since she was already coming to Japan, I figure why not take her to another country she's never visited before.

The first place I took her was to Indonesia. I remember my mother having such a good time and it's no wonder. She's never really got to travel and taking care of two kids by herself, she didn't have the luxury or time. I still have that picture of her in an orange bikini, the first time I've seen my mother in one!

After that trip to Bali, I decided to take her somewhere new every time she came to visit. On her subsequent visits, we made it to other exotic places such as Thailand, Paris, London and Hong Kong. Now that she's much older, she refuses to go on these long trips with me anymore, although I secretly wish to take her on one more trip. Who knows, maybe it could still happen!

The Adventures of Mother & Son

Click thumbnail to view full-size
On a fast and dangerous boat in BangkokChecking out the Royal Palace in BangkokBeing goofy in ThailandVisiting Kyoto with mother and friends.15th Anniversary of Tokyo DisneylandThe markets of Pattaya, ThailandIn front of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.Adventures in London.Chilling out with friends in TokyoOn the banks of Chao Praya River
On a fast and dangerous boat in Bangkok
On a fast and dangerous boat in Bangkok
Checking out the Royal Palace in Bangkok
Checking out the Royal Palace in Bangkok
Being goofy in Thailand
Being goofy in Thailand
Visiting Kyoto with mother and friends.
Visiting Kyoto with mother and friends.
15th Anniversary of Tokyo Disneyland
15th Anniversary of Tokyo Disneyland
The markets of Pattaya, Thailand
The markets of Pattaya, Thailand
In front of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.
In front of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.
Adventures in London.
Adventures in London.
Chilling out with friends in Tokyo
Chilling out with friends in Tokyo
On the banks of Chao Praya River
On the banks of Chao Praya River

My Mother's Final Visit?

shinichi and mother
shinichi and mother

It's been about three years since her last visit to Japan. Nowadays, she tells me that she's too old to travel and while I understand what she's saying, I want to believe that she still can. The last time I went to visit her in Hawaii, she was still going strong and to be honest, she looked even better than a year before. Perhaps it's because she recently moved in with my sister and they fight all the time. Whatever it is, it's doing her good and to my pleasant surprise, she secretly confessed to me that she thought she just might have enough stamina left in her to come and visit me again.

A week later, I told my sister about this incredible revelation and after some planning, I am happy to say that my mother is due to arrive in Japan sometime this spring, just in time for cherry blossom season. She keeps telling me that this time will be her last and although I truly hope it's not true, it really could be. So I plan to make sure she has the time of her life and hopefully, she'll share with me some new secrets, random facts and what it was like to live in her shoes.

It's hard to believe how much time has passed. So many things change yet many things remain the same. Hopefully this "family tradition" of ours will remain unchanged for many more years to come.

What is your relationship with your mother like? All comments are greatly appreciated. Thanks!

Thanks for Reading!

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    • asereht1970 profile image

      asereht1970 3 years ago

      I really, really enjoyed reading your lenses about your relationship with your Mom. I can see that you are truly a devoted son, your Mom's lucky to have you. I'm sure you will have a long life because you followed God's first commandment with a promise. I also am very close to my Mother, so close that at my age, I still live in my parents' house. Unfortunately, even though I want to, I can't take her to visit other countries due to financial constraint. Still I'm hoping that there will come a time when I can take her to trips in other places. God bless.

    • rainykua profile image

      rainykua 3 years ago

      I'm in my late 20's and my mom is in her late 60's. Despite the huge age gap, we're pretty close. She loves to travel like I do. It's our family tradition to travel every year, though we've only been to Asian countries. I hope both of my parents will be healthy for many years so we can travel to the other side of the world.

      I hope your mom will be healthy too for a long time so you can learn a lot more secrets from her.

    • smine27 profile image

      Shinichi Mine 3 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      @MarathonRunning: Aww thanks so much! She's actually arrived and I'm so happy she made it!

    • smine27 profile image

      Shinichi Mine 3 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      @Jerzimom: Thanks so much Cheryl. I'm so sorry to hear about your mom. I'll make sure to take lots of pics.

    • LornsA178 profile image

      LornsA178 3 years ago

      I wish my mom can visit me too or vice versa. This is so nice to read and to know more about your mom. You are really a good story teller. Thanks for all your visit. I don't visit Squidoo regularly due to circumstances beyond my control, it is so nice to visit your lenses.

    • DreyaB profile image

      DreyaB 3 years ago from France

      Make the most of the time with your mother - they are very special memories you are creating and you will cherish them for the rest of your life. I love your page about your Mum and it makes me think of mine. Enjoy her visit in the spring. :0)

    • Minoru10 profile image

      Michael Yoshinaka 3 years ago from Honolulu, Hawaii

      I enjoyed getting to know more about your pass I never really knew. Especially when it involves your mother. I'm so glad things got better between the the two of you and that she is staying with Natsuko in Hawaii and not alone. I'm so happy for the both of you. : D

    • Sir Daniel UK profile image

      Danny Gibson 3 years ago from Northampton

      This is a delightful, personal lens.

      More of this stuff on Squidoo, please!

    • VinnWong profile image

      VinnWong 3 years ago

      My relationship with my mother could be a closer one. Being oceans apart doesn't really help and I should really call her more often. But we are in good terms that's for sure! I'm the luckiest boy to have her in my life.

    • ecogranny profile image

      Kathryn Grace 3 years ago from San Francisco

      Overall very good, but it is complicated. Thankfully, both she and I are willing to spend the time and emotional energy it takes to work through issues when they pop up. I am so grateful to her for that. She is, and always has been, one of my personal heroes. Even though she is in her nineties, and had said she would not travel again, she traveled by car across two states to attend my wedding last summer. It was an immense joy to have her here.

    • profile image

      fullofshoes 3 years ago

      Love this lens.... I really enjoyed this.

    • CherylsArt profile image

      Cheryl Paton 3 years ago from West Virginia

      It's nice that you are getting to know your mother more. I enjoyed reading your story. : )

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 3 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      I sure enjoyed reading about your mother's visits to Japan. Hope your visit this Spring is perfect. Thanks or sharing.

    • profile image

      Ibidii 3 years ago

      What a awesome story about your Mom. How nice she will be there for the blossoms again.

    • esmonaco profile image

      Eugene Samuel Monaco 3 years ago from Lakewood New York

      Another beautiful story, I hope you and your mother have a wonderful viist this spring, and many more of them :)

    • flycatcherrr profile image

      flycatcherrr 3 years ago

      My mother is a lively intelligent senior and I'm grateful for a close relationship with her. I'm glad you and your mother repaired the rift after you moved to Tokyo, and that she plans another visit with you. Let us hope it is not, after all, her last visit.

    • profile image

      RinchenChodron 3 years ago

      Lovely stories about you and your mom. Sounds like you have grown closer to each other over the years. I hope you get to experience many more adventures together.

    • captainj88 profile image

      Leah J. Hileman 3 years ago from East Berlin, PA, USA

      My mum and I did NOT get along the whole time I was growing up. She was pursuing her education after having children, and I resented her not always being available because of coursework, practicing her instrument (which was her major field of study), or overcoming her learning disability with mathematics (she graduated with honors but it was a struggle for her). When I moved out and went on my own, things changed; I matured and learned to respect her. She is now a close friend and one of my very favorite people on earth! I'm glad to hear that you seek ways to draw nearer to your Mum. She is a precious person; enjoy every moment.

    • Elsie Hagley profile image

      Elsie Hagley 3 years ago from New Zealand

      Lovely article, I enjoyed reading your story, precious moments you will always remember. Thanks for sharing.

    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 3 years ago from Canada

      My mother has passed on but we were estranged at the end of her life. It is funny but as my mom became engulfed by dementia she found a renewed sense of peace and happiness in her life. I am glad that you and your mom had the opportunity to become closer as you both have aged.

    • David Stone1 profile image

      David Stone 3 years ago from New York City

      My mother has been dead for more than five years now, but ours was a loving relationship as complicated and unpredictable as the two of us were.

      I think all relationships are reflections of the people in them, including the views in both directions.

    • Merrci profile image

      Merry Citarella 3 years ago from Oregon's Southern Coast

      I bet you are so excited about her visit this spring! Now we can picture you getting ready and making plans. (You must make her some of your cupcakes) A wonderful view--and photos--of your relationship with your mother. It also makes me want to go through the photo albums. Enjoyed this so much, Smine27.

    • MarathonRunning profile image

      Martina 3 years ago from Croatia, Europe

      Thank you for this wonderful story of you and your mum smine27! I`m sure that you will prepare her a beautiful vacation and that you both will have a great time :)

    • Jerzimom profile image

      Cheryl Fay Mikesell 3 years ago from Ladysmith, WI

      What a beautiful story about your Mom. The photo's are simply priceless! Moms are special. Mine is in care center; she has dementia. She knows me most of the time. I hope you have really nice visit when she comes. Take lots of pics!