During the late 1950s and into the 1960s, my father traveled many times to Japan on business, giving me some idea of what it must be like. I remember tales of elaborate dinners with exotic foods and people bowing respectfully. When I was able to include Japan in my travels, I found it to be similar to what I had imagined. The people were friendly, polite, organized and infinitely creative. Festivals in Japan are colorful and loud with hundreds of young people singing and dancing with precision. Costumes ranged from the traditional to the modern, with a Japanese flare, but all were vibrant and picturesque.

I stayed with my guide, Yuki, in her mother’s home, a short distance from Kyoto, enabling me to experience an authentic Japanese lifestyle. My Kyoto experience was highlighted by Yuki volunteering to be made up as a Geisha, a form of entertainment that has become popular with young Japanese girls today. Additionally, I spent several days with a family in Tokushima, with Yuki translating the many conversations about each of our countries and cultures, and was honored with a musical concert by grandmother Sumiko.