In honor of Junko

Junko has been one of the great lights in my life and one of my great teachers. She was there from the very start of my adventure in Japan: I remember her at the party thrown for new English teachers in August 1992, 16 years ago, in what now seems like a different Japan and a different world. I was 21 and she was 20; I have known her for nearly half my life.

Junko taught me Japanese and the ways of Japan. She saw me go from someone who spoke nary a word to a top advertising/PR translator, and she supported me all the way. She has helped me find jobs three times in Japan and is a person without whom my career as it exists today simply wouldn’t exist.

Such help, however, pales in comparison with what she has meant to me on a much more personal level. Despite being from a different culture, she understands me to a degree perhaps higher than anyone else in the world. We have been married since 2000, and in 2005 she gave birth to our daughter, Eleanor, the world’s greatest child. She is an absolutely wonderful mother to our daughter, allowing her to be free and joyful even while instilling in her excellent manners and an altruistic perspective.

I wonder: How many meals has Junko cooked for me? How many times has she taken care of me when I was sick? How many times have we sat watching TV together? How many times has she worried about me? How many times has cleaned the toilet and done other housework?

There is no way to honor her enough for all she has done for me or repay the debt. Sometimes all we can do is be grateful for what we are given. I am immensely grateful for all that she has done for me and our child and for my family and friends in general. I offer her the highest honor and appreciation and celebrate and validate her being. I wish that there were an easier concordance between her happiness and mine; I wish I had the wisdom required to think, feel, and act in such a way as to give her everything she wants and needs in life.

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