Статьи Скотта Гормана (Scott Gorman)

January 13, 2009

My Japanese Family

As I sat at the breakfast table on New Year’s morning at the home of my friend Muneyoshi Hosoya and his family, he left the beautifully appointed table for a moment and returned with a small box.

“A present,” he said, with a broad smile.

I hadn’t expected any present. I thought that was only for the young people, and I had brought them each a thousand yen note in a bright envelope, which I had been told was the custom. But what was this for me?

Enclosed in the box was a small cloth bag. And inside the bag was a round metal tube that looked like a short, chubby fountain pen. But it was not a writing instrument. It was a hanko, a beautiful one, with two Kanji characters. It was my own hanko.

The two characters spelled out “gou” and “man,” very close to my name in English. And in the carefully typed key to the characters, Hosoya-san had written what they could mean.

For gou, there was gou, for strong, excellent, chief; there was gouka, luxury or splendor; there was gouketu, for strong man, hero; there was hugou, millionaire; and there was kengou, great swordsman or master fencer.

For man, there was ten thousand, or lots of; banbatu, creation; mandai, forever; and okumantyouzay, billionaire.

Now I am none of those things, represent none of them. I am just a fallible, bumbling fellow who tries to do his best. But by honoring me in this remarkably kind and caring way, Hosoya-san for a moment made me feel like them all. I had to turn my head and hide my eyes so I wouldn’t embarrass anyone.

Kisakata and the people who inhabit her have always been special to me, ever since I first came here and met everyone in 1994. But now, with my own hanko from my dear friend, I truly felt that I was home, where I was cared for.

I will use this hanko the rest of my life, and I will think of my nearly half-year in residence in Kisakata, an outsider and a stranger treated like one of the family, as I was that day and many other days at the Hosoya home.

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