Going back 21 years, during the time when I was personally learning English (mostly through casual conversations over tea), there was a Hawaiian boy named Lauren who attended the Japanese language school I was familiar with. One day, he asked if it would be okay to bring along a new student who was the same age as us and also from Hawaii for our lesson (tea time).
This is how I met Mikey (pictured on the left), who has now come to visit Kochi! I remembered that Mikey was 19 years old at the time, but I couldn’t recall exactly how many years he had lived in Tokyo. However, when I asked him yesterday, he said it was just two years.
Yet, during those two years, we spent weekends together with my three sisters and our friends, and even after Mikey returned to Hawaii, we always made sure to meet up whenever I visited Hawaii. Plus, since we had Facebook and social media back then, we’ve stayed connected all these years.
Before the pandemic, when my family went to Hawaii, I introduced Mikey to Eme-chan and Fionn, and for some reason, Eme-chan got along even better with Mikey than I did!
So, Mikey decided to come to Japan after such a long time, and he’s staying for 12 days. He suggested visiting Kochi, so we quickly coordinated our schedules and booked his flight about a week ago. Yesterday, Mikey landed in Kochi! Yay!
Back in the day, I treated him like a little brother, even though he was much younger. But now, after over 20 years, I realized he’s only one year younger than Eme-chan.
It’s really heartwarming to have friends who can get along with our family so well, even after over 20 years. I’m the type who stays in touch with old friends quite regularly, and I’m pretty nonchalant about visiting them abroad, so accepting Mikey was a no-brainer.
So, yesterday, we went sightseeing in Kochi after picking him up at the airport. First, we had a “Welcome to Kochi” toast with craft beer at a new beer place at the Shinminato Port.
By the way, these two really get along like a house on fire. They’re constantly making jokes and laughing, and they always say that their 5-year friendship is deeper than my 20-year friendship with him!
Fionn was only one year old when we first met Mikey in Hawaii, so he doesn’t remember, but he knows Mikey from photos and FaceTime. So, he’s been eagerly looking forward to Uncle Mikey’s visit and has already started a countdown asking, “How many more days until he leaves? I’ll miss him.” (This is exactly like Eme-chan.)
We also went to Katsurahama, which I usually only visit when friends come over. We took a photo with the statue of Ryoma Sakamoto there.
After that, we went to a traditional Kochi-style izakaya called “Habotan” It’s a place that’s as Kochi as it gets and hasn’t changed much over the years.
We had Katsuo (skipjack tuna) tataki, Utsubo (moray eel) tataki, their famous omurice (omelette rice), Tosamaki (local sushi roll), Kibinago (silver-stripe round herring) tempura, and a variety of other dishes that are quintessentially Kochi. But when it comes to tataki, it’s hard to beat Myojin’s straw-grilled tataki or the salt tataki from the local Wakamatsu restaurant.
We had dinner in Kochi City, then I took Mikey to a gathering with friends where we had a good time. After that, I bought some donuts from Mister Donut and drove two hours back to Shimanto city. That’s the story from Thursday.
Mikey will be here until Sunday, so I’ll be documenting the next four days of our adventures with Mikey in the blog. Right now, they’re all in the living room, having a great time with friends and enjoying themselves. It’s just an ordinary scene, but it’s really fun and heartwarming to have Mikey here!