This month, I will introduce you Ms Jun Soon Ok, who is a highschool teacher in Teagu City, Korea.
She stayed with us, not as a hotel guest, but as a friend, for two weeks.
She is teaching Japanese language at school. She would like to experience the real life in Japan. So she came to us, and just like our daughter who works far away and sometimes comes home, we spent much time together.
She wrote an essay in Japanese, which I am going to put on my April edition of Japanese version of this page. Before that, I will let you read in this March issue by my translation.
I hope you will enjoy.
My trip to Karatsu
Jun Soon Ok
|When Mrs. Okochi, Okamisan of Yoyokaku, advised me to write an essay on my trip to Karatsu in Japanese,
I was at a loss, because I was not confident of my command of Japanese,
or knowledge of history of Karatsu. But after a second thought, I decided
to try. Even if I had no deep knowledge about Karatsu, I will write just
like I write in my diary whatever small things that mean a lot to me. A
journey by myself, my first homestaying, Yoyokaku, Karatsu...
This must have been a destiny, I assume. A Korean proverb says "Only when your sleeve touches someone else, it is a destiny." And this time, not only my sleeve, but my whole self touched Japan.
Three years ago, I planned to go and study in Japan, but difficult problems of my job made me give up the wish. Since then, I have always wanted to see Japanese people's lives closely, and to speak Japanese to my heart's content. As a Japanese language teacher at highschool, not only the things I read in books or things I see on TV, but my real experience in Japan I wanted to tell my students. This is why I wanted to stay in a Japanese family.
I am rather shy and have no courage. How could I think of the idea to go home-staying, I wonder. My friend, who introduced me to Mr. and Mrs. Okochi, said that I was going to stay in Karatsu City. At first Karatsu sounded 'Karasu' ( crow). I had no idea where Karatsu was and how it was written in Chinese characters. I looked for the city in the map and the dictionary. With only little information about Karatsu, and with an uneasy heart, I left Pusan by boat and arrived at Hakata Port on January 8, 2007.
The driver of the taxi I took from the port to the subway station asked for what I came to Japan. I answered that I was going to stay in a family in Karatsu, and that since I didn't know them directly I was very much worried. The driver said, "There are so many good hearted people in Japan. The host family must be good people. You should just cheer up!" During the short train trip to Karatsu the word 'cheer up' echoed in my head. I thought this word was the proper hint to me in this status of mind, and it became the motto I should keep until this journey ended.
Well, now, I will cheer myself up, and will start on this quest!
Yoyokaku! My first impression was that I am so sorry that I came here without any previous knowledge about it.This ryokan has endured more than hundred years' history. How beautiful it is! I have come to an extraordinary place! I was amazed because I had longed for old architectures, and a Japanese ryokan itself was my first experience. Honestly, I was afraid if I could really stay here as a 'home-stay'. Mr. Okochi's long, more than 30 years, love of Korea, and Mrs. Okochi's deep knowledge and good pronunciation of Korean language surprised me. I thought I should study more about my own country.
I had not expected to see it, so, when I happened to see it, I said to myself. "Oh, what a good day it is!" It was a doll of Samurai who came out of the door of the tower and hit the drum telling the time11 o'clock.
After I came to Karatsu, I got to know about pottery. Karatsu pottery, Imari, Arita, each one has its own identity and has a graceful attraction. When I see Karatsu pottery, I feel I like this best, and when I see Imari, Imari is wonderful, and to see Arita makes me fall in love with Arita porcelain. As for Karatsu pottery, Mrs. Okochi gave me a chance to make tea-cups. The cups must be fired, so I am waiting and looking forward to seeing how they come out. I could not resist my excited feeling on my way home from Imari, so I drank beer on the train, and wrote my memos. I was afraid that I might smell drunken. I hurried and ran the way back on my secret pathway in the dark
Now I am back to reality. Everything seems a dream to me. Since I could meet many wonderful people, I could make such wonderful memories. I do not know the difference of Japanese two words deai (encounter) and meguriai (chance meeting), but these two both remind me of my trip, and they became my favorite Japanese words. I would like to extend my gratitude to Mr. and Mrs. Okochi, staffs of Yoyokaku, and the people I met in Karatsu.
Thank you very much for your kind reading of my small journey record.
I hope you will visit my town Taegu too.
| Well Soon Ok is gone, and we miss her so much. Maybe we will visit her
in the near future.
Then I will tell you about her country.
Thank you for reading this.
Hope to see you again next month.