#18       September, 2001

A Letter from Cape Cod

\Living far away from furusato\
Mayumi Spencer

 Hello, Friends. How did you survive the terrible heat of this August?
 I wanted to go to the sea, I mean, go into the sea-water, because I live close to the sea, but this summer it was reported that sharks were attacking Japanese beaches too. I think I am a very attractive woman for them as I am fat and slow. So I sat still by the window, looking up at the late summer moon, in the hazy smoke of the mosquito coil, remembering good old days when I was a little girl.

 The Nagai family lived next door, and there were four pretty sisters. They were like Louisa May Alcott's "Little Women". Indeed, there was a contest of 'Four Pretty Sisters', sponsored by a department store, and the Nagai Sisters were the winners. The American movie "Little Women" was so popular in Japan early in the 1950's.
Did I imagine at that time, that Mayumi, one of the Karatsu's Little Women, would live in New England later?
A handsome American guy, Jim Spencer, met Mayumi at Yoyokaku some 35 years ago, and he took Mayumi away!
Jim and Mayumi


So let me introduce Mayumi Spencer, now living in Cape Cod. She is a cousin to my husband Den Okochi. Here is her letter to the readers of my web-page.

  I hope you will enjoy meeting her and family!

Harumi Okochi of Yoyokaku asked me, "How would you like to write 'A Letter from Cape Cod' on my web-page?" I told her it was a lot easier for me to chitchat than to write, but after thinking it over, I decided to try.

Mayumi Spencer
When my cousin Keiji Nagai visited us last year, he brought the 100 year Karatsu High School Alumni Association's yearbook to me. That same summer three of my high school classmates also came to visit, and I showed it to them. Memories of our beloved Karatsu came flooding back, as we talked the night through about the good old days. They were surprised to hear how good my Karatsu-ben (dialect) still is.

Winter: On New Year's Day we would get up early and take a hot bath. Then, after exchanging seasonal greetings, we would eat the traditional foods: o-zoni, seki-han, and the like. I still cook seki-han often, as it is my favorite dish. Here in America Christmas more closely resembles the Japanese New Years. It is a family holiday, too.

Spring: Springtime is filled with memories of the cherry blossoms, wisteria, and azalea at Maizuru Park. Spring is pleasant in Boston, as well. The Public Gardens and the banks of the Charles River surge back to life after the long winter.

: I grew up by the seashore and used to walk along the beautiful beaches of Futago and Nishinohama. We could see Maizuru Park from our verandah. My sisters and I swam all day, everyday, until we were tanned brown. My father would laugh and say, "Nobody will want to marry you, if you get so dark." In Japan, fair skin is considered a sign of beauty. I'll always remember the spectacular fireworks at the Matsuura Bridge. Each year the Fourth of July fireworks in Boston brings it to mind. We live by the water on Cape Cod so I guess I was meant to live near the sea.

Autumn: New England's most beautiful season is the fall. The foliage is so colorful. Nevertheless, for me the symbol of Autumn will always be the Karatsu Kunchi. We hope to return someday to see the fourteen floats drawn through the streets by young men clad in happi jackets.

Miyuki Nagai
Of course, my fondest memory of Karatsu is of my mother. She was so cheerful, happy, and well-loved. My father's business kept him away from home a good deal, so we did everything together with her. We were very close. She passed away so young. Now my father is gone, too. My older sister Matsuko and my youngest sister Sumiko have joined them.

Although I presently call Cape Cod home, Karatsu will always be my furusato.
                                                                                                        Mayumi Spencer

Thank you very much, Mayumi-san. The photo of your mother instantly brought me back to my happy childhood.
I remember well that your mother Miyuki and my mother Sumiko were always together.

This photo is about 50 years ago.

The left is Miyuki.
The right is Sumiko. She is 85 years old now and living with us .
Sumiko forgets that Miyuki has long gone.
Sumiko often says she is going to see Miyuki-san this afternoon.
Then I say, "Oh, are you? Please say hello for me."
In my mother's memory, Miyuki-san is as young and beautiful as ever.

And a surprise to you, Mayumi-san! Here is a message your daughter has sent.
Mom and Dad-
 I admire both of you tremendously.
You have taught me the importance of love, courage,  respect, and honesty.
 I  appreciate everything you have done for me throughout the years.
You are both truly wonderful parents. I love you!


Thank you very much, dear readers.
I hope you will visit my web-page again next month to meet another wonderful person.

                  @@@@@@@@    Mail to Harumi Okochi