Mie Ito is my neighbor and friend. I met her a year ago and she has been one of the kindest, most generous and tolerant people I have ever met. Always a very curious person, she’s someone who doesn’t quite fit the mold of what a Japanese person should be. She would even agree with me if I told her so. But not in a bad way. In fact, she embodies some of the best values and characteristics that I really appreciate and admire in Japanese people.
I first met her about a year ago at a Japanese lesson. She later brought me to join her Japanese language tutoring group in Motomiya Machi, a nearby suburb of Koriyama. With other volunteers, she teaches Japanese every week to numerous foreigners from all over. She’s also very keen to learn and practice English. And despite her struggles to learn it, she’s never shy about it. She keeps at it despite any setbacks. I’ve always encouraged her to practice it around me.
Mie is also very well traveled. Every year she goes off to someplace in Asia or Southern Europe. She recently took a three month tour around the world aboard a ship called the Peace Boat. She traveled to 6 continents and over 20 different countries, including Jordan, Venezuela, and Vietnam.
We often hang out and go hiking together on occasion, or go visit some site in the countryside. But alas, she is moving to Minami Aizu in a couple weeks. Over 3 hours drive away, she is going to work at a resort in a National Park to, “be close to nature.” She will be missed when she’s gone. Let’s hope that I can visit her in her new home at least once before I head back home.