One of the greatest parts of travel is meeting new people. Oddly enough, I am not going to talk about how I met Harumi and Satoshi at the Gion Kobu Kaburen-jo Theater for the Spring Geisha Festival. I am going to discuss how Harumi and Satoshi met.
They'd been married for several years when I met them. Satoshi (him) is from Kyoto and Harumi (her) grew up in Imabari on the island of Shikoku.
Satoshi grew up in Kyoto working odd jobs, sometimes for his father (professional photographer) and other times at a restaurant as a chef. When he turned 21 he decided to go to New York City to see what it was all about. He had a friend working in a Sushi restaurant and found a job right away.
Harumi grew up dancing in the (very) small town of Imabari located along the coast of the Inland Sea on the island of Shikoku. Her parents owned a business where she worked while she was going to school. After spending some time going to University, she decided to transfer to Columbia University in New York with a scholarship in dance. She had spent about two years at Columbia before one night when she went out with a couple of friends for dinner. That is when she met Satoshi. They spent another two years in New York together before moving home to get married.
For them, it took traveling to another country to find love and realize that home was a better place for them. Instead of moving to Tokyo and living in a NYC style city, or Kyoto where culture dates back thousands of years, they moved to the small town of Imabari.
Neither of them had traveled around Japan much (Harumi had never been off the island of Shikoku), nor had they met each other before NYC. Out of 25 million people in New York and easily the same (well, more) amount of people in Japan, to meet the way they did and connect like they did, almost makes a person believe in destiny.
They now they manage Harumi's parent's business and commute to Kyoto regularly to visit Satoshi's father. It is a long way from New York, but they are happy and they were great hosts. They translated as we walked around the Geisha (it is Geiko in Kyoto) complex, showing me different items of interest and then explaining what parts of the tea ceremony meant as it was happening. I almost wish I could've packed them up and taken them with me for the rest of the trip. I did eventually meet back up with them for lunch in Imabari. They met me at the best ramen restaurant I had been to since the Ramen Museum. It is nice to have local knowledge of a place!