Tuesday, February 10, 2015

EYEWITNESS ACCOUNT: In Jack Mikoshiba's Words

EYEWITNESS ACCOUNT: In Jack Mikoshiba's Words

By Jack Mikoshiba
Special To Spirit News
January 19, 2073

It may seem like the strangest of coincidences, but I recall during the winter break at Leafa College last year, I decided to visit Japan and see the ancestors of my wife, Nadeshiko Sunohara, who I call Yamato. They were all based in Setagaya Ward, located in Tokyo. Setagaya is not Shibuya or Minato, it's not a glitzy part of the metropolis. But all of the important people who were a part of the city are gone, including Yamato's grandmother Ushio, who had passed away one month prior to the visit.

When we got off the train to visit Hikarizaka Senior High School, I noticed all these light orbs floating around. Then I noticed a statue of a girl with antenna hair, hands clasped. "See this?" asked Yamato. "This is my great-grandmother, Nagisa Furukawa. She was an influential person and donated a lot to this school. I was a student here until I moved out to Australia to be with you."

I nodded and for a few fleeting moments, I was lost in a massive time warp. As we continued to tour around, I remembered the moments that my great-grandparents in law went through. The ups and downs. The heartache and the triumph. The firm belief to keep hope alive and to persevere.

Hikari Inazuma, Ekaterina Verniyeva, Keiko Akatsuki and Hitomi Ikazuchi, the new co-owners of Furukawa Bread.

I visited the bakery, who was now under new ownership but still operating under the Furukawa Bread name. I met the owner of the shop. I said, "Excuse me, who are you?" The lady bowed and said. "My name is Keiko Akatsuki, and I am the owner of this bakery, at the request of the late Ushio Okazaki. Kyou Fujibayashi and Kotomi Ichinose are my great-grandmothers."

I said to her, "Yamato told me about her when she was alive. But aren't you supposed to be working at a school instead? Why are you here?"

She said, "Because Yamato's grandmother didn't want the bakery to close and I didn't want to go into teaching anyway. I have a number of friends that have decided to also assist and work as staff. They've heard great things about the legacy of the Furukawa combine and have elected to keep the tradition alive. We have their recipes which are guarded as trade secrets. However...we made important...improvements to the recipes."

A girl with long gray hair arrived. "Greetings," she said. "My name is Ekaterina Hibiki Verniyeva. I speak Japanese, Russian and English. I have introduced new types of pastries and desserts to the menu lineup and even incorporated liberal use of blueberries."

"Oh yeah, we forgot to introduce ourselves," said another person. "I'm Hitomi Ikazuchi, and my friend here is Hikari Inazuma. We're also full-time staff here," Hitomi said. "Hey Hikari, are you busy over there?"

"Busy as always-nanodesu!" she said, "Our house coffee is really popular with the customers. They're all sold out and another shipment is coming in in approximately two hours-nanodesu."

"What about the dango?"

"Dango will be ready in 15 minutes-nanodesu!"

"Hey now! See what I mean?" Hitomi said. "So this is a popular hangout with the locals and even neckbearded tourists from America because the history is there. They're making a push to give it some cultural recognition or honor because the original owners were pretty famous. Also here's a not-so-well-kept secret: they are Yamato's ancestors."

"Stop reminding me, it's embarrassing; I'm not that special!" Yamato exclaimed, blushing.

I kissed her lips. "You're not fooling anyone in this town and sure as the Dango Daikazoku, you're not gonna fool me. You're like royalty out here. I'm glad I'm your man. Embrace who you are." She gave me a good hug, coming to terms. Well, she's also a reincarnation of that ship from World War II and the staff and owners at Furukawa Bread were also warships in past lives. Not that they really minded; for them, just being working women empowering themselves was enough for them. And after eating at the restaurant, I visited the gravesite of my wife's grandmother and great-grandparents.

I think this visit to Setagaya Ward was uplifting. Yamato's predecessors were not celebrities or politicians or members of the Imperial Household. They were just normal people making a difference in the lives of others their way and people noticed that and honored them. They didn't ask for recognition. They only received it. Only drawback is that I now have a lot of dango-shaped pillows in my dorm room. No trouble sleeping, for sure.

Going forward, I don't ask for praise or any stuff like that. I don't come to Leafa College to just be a quarterback and play. I come for the education and pursue something meaningful. I don't think my great-grandparents in law received a college degree because they were out in the job sector, living life. That's what Yamato and I plan to do. The road, for us, doesn't end at Leafa. We're young, we're one, the road just begins, so let's shine for what it's worth.