by Heidi Ng - Singporian volunteer in Japan
Our house is next to a kindergarten, so we often have met mothers who travel to and fro to this kindergarten. In the early mornings and at 2pm, you will hear the energetic whoops from the children, the tinkling laughter and conversations the mothers have amongst themselves. We have formed friendships with many of these mothers. Mainly, Midori-san, Yuka-san, Oogawa-san.
Each of these mothers has their own stories, their own hardships. Husbands who have to be busy earning a living, traveling to and fro. Midori and Oogawa-san are part of what the Japanese term as “tenkin zoku”. Families that move around a lot. Many workers in Japan often have to be transferred from one area to another for work. These transfers can be anywhere from a year to five, or even more. Very often, in order to spare their children this constant hassle of having to uproot their lives and start all over again every five years, the fathers may choose to go alone and leave the family behind. It has broken up many families this way.
One day, I had the inspiration of having a mother’s outing, where I will invite all my different mother friends to have lunch at a cafe and then explore the city of Sendai. We had pizza, and Taiyaki, a Sendai specialty dessert of a fish-shape pancake with a sweet filling inside. It is absolutely addictive, crispy and creamy. After that we went to a very tall building to have a bird’s eye view of Sendai. It was very tiring trying to keep an eye on one child, let alone three. “Don’t run, be careful of cars, wait for us! Yes we are getting there soon, Yes you can do that, no please don’t climb that, please share the Doraemon toy, where is Souta!! Oh no I lost Seta!!” Mothers, they have it really tough.
During the outing, each of the moms managed to squeeze in some conversations in between feeding their children and chasing after them. Midori-san had never been to Central Sendai and for her it was very fun to observe the sights with her children together with us.
Actually, we encountered Midori-san by accident one day, when she was traveling to the kindergarten and Bernie struck up a conversation with her and invited her to our house. Ever since then, Midori and her children have been frequent visitors, and friends whose presence we can count on whenever we hold gatherings. The first time she came to our house for a party, she said it was the first time she had been invited to one, ever since she moved to Sendai. In a way, we are her first friends.
Heart’s Home has been holding quite a few parties recently, birthday celebrations, Christmas parties, Chinese New Year parties (because I am Chinese and we try to have any excuse to have food and gatherings), Sakura parties and others. All these events are opportunities for our friends to gather together, get to know each other and be included in our big family circle.