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When you come to Japan as a foreigner, it seems that there is always a Japanese person who adopts you. This person makes sure you have all the things you need, informs you of important events and perhaps even takes you sightseeing. I’ve had several people take on this role during my time in Japan, and I’m beginning to think that every so often the island holds a meeting to determine who will take care of the gaijin-san for the next few years.

The first person who took on the task was my neighbor Ueda-san, who introduced me to the basics of island living. After she died, her daughter-in-law took over, encouraging me to join in cultural events and teaching me about some of the Japanese arts. Then the Buddhist priest spent a good few years educating me about Buddhism, Shintoism and the roots of Japanese culture. In 2004, the job went to a fisherman. Rikimatsu-san was 75 years old and had been fishing for most of them when he took me under his fin, intent on teaching me the ways of the Seto Inland Sea.

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