|Marisa and I with Black Jack in Kyoto Station|
I have a good friend named Marisa who came to visit me twice in Japan. We met online (!) in 2002 through a writing community, started going to this annual convention with a bunch of other mutual friends, and it just kind of snowballed from there! It's bizarre to think sometimes that we've known each other for an entire decade. We used to look a bit alike - my ex-boyfriend once came up behind Marisa to hug her, thinking she was me--!
We don't look so much alike now, but we still have very similar taste in hobbies, and we get together every week on Skype for a JLPT (日本語能力試験) study group.
I can honestly say that the two times Marisa visited were some of the comparatively easiest times I had with houseguests in my tiny 1K apartment. She had done a student exchange in Japan when she was in high school, so she spoke and read some Japanese, knew how to use the train system and chopsticks, and managed to avoid all the nitpicky cultural taboos that foreigners tend not to know about. She was also quite capable of taking care of herself when I was at work, and even came to spend an afternoon at our school's English Speaking Society. We hung out with my Japanese friends for a weekend, pretty much no English 90% of the time, and not only was I not really nervous that she was uncomfortable; we were all having a blast.
Marisa also had enough experience in Japan that nothing fazed her. BBQ eel lunch boxes on her very first day? Check. Singing karaoke without having to look up romanized lyrics? Check. Venturing out to Gion Matsuri in the rain? Supercheck. Buying an entire yukata set (yukata, geta, obi, handbag and hair accessories) because it was embarrassing to only do it halfway? That's Marisa.
Now all I have to do is wait for her to move to Japan, so I can come visit. Muahahaha.