The minto building serves as a model house, an office, and a lifestyle/wellness center. It's a splendidly-designed building, with a clever mixture of cozy and modern, business and home. It's one of the most interesting establishments I've ever visited.
Besides us 3, most of the attendees were women who work for minto. Two of them brought their children, so there were also 3 adorable babies there. And of course Ivy's host parents (the Tanakas) and the shachou were also present. Excluding dem babies, there were about 13 people in total.
Conversation started with the questions we typically get: How long have you been studying Japanese, why do you want to study Japanese, have
Another topic we also kept returning to was language. Lately I've been disappointed in myself because I don't feel like my Japanese is improving enough. As a result, I've been putting a lot of pressure on myself. But talking to the people at minto helped me understand that to some degree, everyone has difficulty learning a new language. While I struggle with Japanese, they have weaknesses when it comes to English. In fact, there are some aspects of Japanese that even Japanese people have trouble with, so I shouldn't expect to be perfect. Or ever become perfect, for that matter.
One woman who calls herself ピコメグ (Picomegu) is a 落語 (rakugo) performer and a laughter yoga instructor, among other things. Basically, she helps people heal through laughter and alternative methods for a living. Rakugo is a traditonal Japanese art of one-man comedic storytelling. Since Bryen, Ivy, and I were there she was gracious enough to perform a short piece for us in English. It's called "People Often Pretend to Know Everything in a Museum".
In return for her sharing her talent, Ivy and I each sang a song for everyone. Bryen managed to get out of doing anything. This time.
Everyone was so kind and funny. We were shown nothing but warmth and hospitality, and I'm so glad we were invited to come. Though I've met some pretty cool Japanese college students since coming here, I've still had this stereotypical image of Japanese people (especially adults) as stoic, standoffish, and uptight. It was refreshing to meet adults who were so open and convivial. I mean if you think about it, interacting with most people is somewhat similar. You meet and it might be a little awkward at first, but once people warm up to each other everyone usually has a good time. Hopefully we'll go back before we leave next month. Thanks to the Tanaka family and the folks at minto!
minto website: http://www.k-kawachi.com/index.html
minto FB: https://www.facebook.com/kawachiminto
70 Days in Kansai photos (JULY/AUGUST) \
70 Days in Kansai photos (JUNE)