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Story ID:10157
Written by:Frederick William Wickert (bio, link, contact, other stories)
Story type:Musings, Essays and Such
Location:Tokyo Honshu Japan
Person:Medo Mamasan
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By Fred Wickert

My girlfriend in Tokyo, Japan had the day off and I did too. We had made plans to have an early dinner together at a restaurant near the Ginza in down town Tokyo and then go see a live musical show at the Nichigeki Theater, a famous theater in Tokyo.

Tae, my girlfriend roomed with a family in Tokiwadi, a suburb of Tokyo. The family was husband and wife with three daughters. Two of the girls were in high school and the other was just beginning grade school.

I was to pick Tae up at the house at 5:00 P.M. It was an hour trip to down town Tokyo from there. The show began at 7:30 P.M. I arrived on time to pick Tae up at the house. Mamasan as we called Mrs. Medo, Tae’s land Lady was cooking her family dinner in the kitchen. Something was already simmering on the stove in a wok, a large bowl shaped frying pan commonly used in oriental cooking.

Tae informed me she had told Mamasan where we were going. Mamasan was 50 years old. Tae told me she had told her she lived within seven miles of downtown Tokyo her entire life, and had never been there. She wished she could see it someday. It is hard to believe, but this woman had never seen a building higher than three stories in her life.

I told Tae upon hearing this, that she should invite her to go along with us if she wanted to. Tae went back to the kitchen and repeated what I had said. Mamsan removed her apron and came to the front door, put on her shoes, (Shoes are not worn inside the house in Japan.) and announced that she was ready. So, away we went. I was a bit astonished as she left dinner cooking on the stove and never mentioned to her family she was going at all. She just left. To her it was the opportunity of a lifetime and she was not going to let it pass her by.

We walked to the train station and got on a train for Ekebukuro where we changed trains for Ginza. In Ginza we got off the train and walked to the place where we were going to eat our dinner. Mamasan was great fun to watch. Her head was constantly turning to see everything that caught her eye. So much of it was new to her.

We had our meal in the restaurant and even that was an experience to Mamasan. She had never eaten in such a large and fancy restaurant. To Tae and I it was neither large nor fancy, but to her it was. She had never seen one like it before. When we finished our meal and started to walk to the Urakcho corner where the Nichigeki Theater was located, we almost lost her. She was looking up at the tall buildings. They were eight and ten stories and she had never seen such a thing. She had also never seen anything like the moving lettering on lighted electric signs. She was looking up and at an intersection she stepped off the curb and into the street in front of a moving taxi cab.

I grabbed her by the back of her clothing by the neck and yanked her back out of the way just in time to keep her from getting hit. Tae and I thought that should teach her to be more careful but it didn’t. She was intent on seeing as much as she could take in and let us worry about keeping her from getting run over.

We got to the theater and went inside and waited in our seats for the show to start. The curtains opened and the pipe organ began to play. All attention was turned to the stage. Singers, comedians and dancers did their routines. It was all very entertaining and it had become a favorite place to go for Tae and I because of the great entertainment. This time though, I found myself being more entertained by watching Mamsan and her facial expressions and body language. She was enjoying every last minute of it.

When the show was over, we went to a Japanese Tea Room, where we had some refreshment and quiet conversation before returning to Tokiwadi. We here in the USA have nothing like the Japanese Tea Room and I don’t even know if they still have them in Japan, but they were very nice. Each one featured a different type of music and the customers choose which one they went to by the kind of music they offered. Some in the Shimbashi area, were larger and had live bands and vocalists and of course a much larger crowd. College students favored those places.

Tea Rooms had a limited menu. They offered tea, coffee, three or four kinds of assorted light pastry and beer. They also had ice cream if you wished. That is about all they offered. They were basically a place where you could sit quietly sipping coffee and listening to music and having a conversation with your friend or friends. They were nice.

When they finished their tea and I my coffee, we took a taxi back to Tokiwadi. I had Tae instruct the taxi driver to go past the Imperial Palace grounds and moat so Mamasan could see them, even though it was well after dark.

When we arrived at the house I lingered for a few minutes, expecting to hear a small uproar due to the way Mamasan had left. After all, she did leave abruptly with dinner cooking on the stove and not a word to anybody that she was leaving. When we arrived it was a little after 10:00 P.M. The house was dark. Tae and Mamasan entered the house and said, “Good Night.” I expected to see lights coming on and loud voices, but there was none of that. After a few minutes I turned and went back to the train station to go back to the New Kaijo building where I was billeted.

I already knew, but was informed when I next went to the house that I had made her day by inviting Mamsan to go with us that night. As for reaction of her family, they discovered the food cooking and quickly realized she was gone. They immediately suspected she had gone with us so they took over the cooking. They had their dinner without her. The kids did their homework and then got ready for bed in the normal way. Her husband did whatever he did in the evening in the normal way and then they all went to bed at their usual time because they had to get up in the morning. In the morning they were all briefed by Mamasan and life went on with the normal routine. All was well.

As for Mamasan, Tae’s American boyfriend had made her day!

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