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Adventures in Shiiba - February 1994
Erik Kassebaum

I went home to celebrate Christmas with my family. For my family, Christmas is not a religious event. For us, it is a time to come together. My family is like most American families in that we do not all live in the same house. For example, my grandparents live in Loomis. Loomis is about 160 kilometers from my parents' home in Petaluma. I live in Shiiba. Shiiba is a long way from Petaluma.

The exchange of gifts is a part of my families' Christmas tradition. We usually exchange gifts on Christmas Eve (December 24). Most families exchange gifts on Christmas morning. For my family, it is the thought that counts, not the price of the gift.

While I was at home I got to talk with my family and friends about Shiiba. In addition I was able to show my family several hundred photographs of Shiiba and Miyazaki-ken. The photographs reminded my parents of a place that they lived in when I was very young. They said that Shiiba is quite beautiful and that if time permits they will visit someday.

My friends and the people at the company where I used to work (CCH) did not realize that Japan had places like Shiiba. Most people thought that all of Japan was like Tokyo. I got to tell them about life in the other Japan. Life in places like Shiiba, places where people still care about each other. Places that are amazingly beautiful.

I also got to do a bit of shopping. Most things, even products made in Japan were much cheaper in California. For example, I bought some new tires for my bike. The tires were made in Japan and would have cost four times as much if I had tried to buy them in Japan. Every junior high student in Shiiba now knows how much Coca-Cola costs in Petaluma, and how this relates to the value of the yen and the dollar.

I enjoyed being able to tell stories about life in Shiiba to my family and friends. Each time I go back for a visit I hope to tell them more about this other Japan, for this is a place that the world needs to learn more about. Doozo Yoroshiku.