It is a great thing to be able to remember stuff, especially in Japan. Unfortunately I can’t. Well to be precise I cannot remember names. Ben and I go away for the weekend to an island some miles to the West of Okinawa. I can remember the name of the group of islands, the Keramas, but I cannot remember the name of the island we are going to. This becomes tricky when we get to the port from which we are to take the boat. This is the weekend of Obon – big festival when your ancestors come back to visit. The place is teeming with people. We go to the terminal place to get tickets. There are lines everywhere, very civilized Japanese lines, but which one to join? Everything is in Japanese and I cannot remember the name of the place we are going to- neither can Ben. I spy an Anglo Saxon and after a conversation of confusion he suggests we stand in this line. I get tickets and we get on a boat. The one thing I do remember is that the boat leaves at 10:00. At 10:00 the boat next to ours leaves, ours does not. Oh well, let’s just see where all this will lead and some minutes later our boat takes off and we head West. Great trip with flying fish terminates in a port on an island. Is this where we are supposed to be? I cannot remember the name of the guest house we are going to stay at but we get onto a mini bus the sports a vaguely familiar combination of syllables. The driver keeps up a narrative as we drives across the hills and rice fields of this tropical isle but neither of us have a clue of what he is saying. We arrive at a guest house on a beautiful beach and are greeted by smiling faces.
” Neil San, I am Kinjo San’s sister, my name is K????????? , this is Kinjo San ‘s mother, her name is K???????????’ these are Kinjo San’s brothers, their names are H?????????? and G????????. Welcome, we are so happy!”
I cannot remember their names. I do not remember the name of the island. ” What is the name of this village?” Bad move. “It is A??????????.”
The people are wonderful, A?????????? is idyllic, but I feel guilt because I manifest disrespect by not knowing the name of the island, the village or any of the people’s names.