This photo first appeared in October, 2012. My story from that week is here.
The picture has a similar impact on me, reminding me of my time spent in Japan, the people I met there and a woman who is near and dear to my heart, Mihoko. She lived with us for about a year as a ‘mother’s helper’ when my older two children were babies and helped in so many ways – mostly, as an experienced mother who’d raised her children, she let me know I was doing OK when things felt hard. Patient, calm, and always willing to help, she was a true blessing and we are still dear friends, even now that those two babies are all grown up.
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Her life’s dream rested here. Opening the restaurant had been a labor of love and honor. Named for her grandfather, Hiro, his hands had lovingly taught her the art of becoming Itamae and all that came with that title – the importance of one’s ingredients, one’s utensils, one’s patrons, and one’s movements. Their sushi-ya would be known for creating dishes full of both artistry and heart.
Mihoko nodded, looking around her; her white coat and apron spotless, her knife sharp and her heart full. She turned on the lights and opened the door to her future, ready to serve.
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© Erin Leary