My little guardian angel
This post is long overdue and there are reasons for that but, unfortunately, I can't go into them. They involve a person who is unfamiliar with technology and prefers he not be mentioned in a blog.
For those who haven't dealt with headquarters in the last two years, the name Akiko Takahira will not be familiar but she is the Overseas Coordinator and, therefore, the one in charge of all my needs relating to the school.
I had been corresponding with her from home ever since it was decided I would be going there. I don't know why but I envisaged someone about my age and was quite surprised to meet a petite, young girl with a ready smile and a pen and notepad constantly in hand. I warmed to her very quickly. She would write down my every question or request, conduct whatever research was necessary and would return to me with the answers, maps, directions etc. A super efficient little dynamo.
During one of our talks, mention was made of my love of dressmaking and she told me that she always wanted to learn to sew. I told her I had some free time whilst there and would be glad to show her some basic skills. We both took this quite seriously and made plans to shop for fabrics and various haberdashery items to start with.
We had two problems to overcome - one, a place to cut out the fabric because there was no room at my apartment and her home is one hour's train ride away, and two, we had no sewing machine. One day after class she asked me if I had time to go with her to a friend's place to see if the sewing machine he had is still working and, if so, we would be able to use it. Sure enough, we took a couple of train rides and got to her friend's place and there was the machine. The dear little thing was little more than a toy. It had no peddle but a button that is pressed to start and then pressed to stop. This doesn't make sewing easy I can tell you. But we were on a mission, so I threaded it and it worked and it was decided we would do all our sewing at her friend's place.
Enjoying an ice cream after establishing
the sewing machine worked.
Our next excursion was to be on a Sunday when we would go fabric shopping. You have to understand that the words 'fabric shopping' make my heart skip a beat. It's the same feeling my sisters get when they hear the words 'shoe shopping'. After some more train rides (I lost count how many), we arrived at a fabric store which is spread over three buildings.
We spent the entire afternoon looking there happily going through fabrics, haberdashery, sewing machines etc. We decided she would make a simple skirt and we found a delightful black net fabric with white spots on it that looked as though they were floating. Miss Takahira was very excited about this and couldn't wait to start. We were so engrossed with our shopping that we forgot we had a ballet recital to attend that evening and we were running late. So we were rushing to finish off and were surprised when, after the fabric was cut in one building, we were told to take it out and into the next building to pay for it. This faith in people's honesty is just one of the many things I love about Japan.
The following week we arrived at Ms Takahira's friends place ready to start. Teachers in any field of study enjoy teaching a bright student and I am no exception. My pupil is a quick study and her enthusiasm quite infectious so it gave me a lot of pleasure to watch her learn. Her friend was also very encouraging and pleased with her progress and took all the following photos as we worked. I apologize about the quality of the photos. They were printed and given to me and I had to photograph them again in order to get them into the computer. I'm sure there's a better way to do this but I don't know it.
I have to admit that I did all the machining part of the work because the sewing machine is too difficult to use even for someone of my experience. Ms Takahira was anxious for us to finish it so she could wear it during the exhibition at Takashimaia and take a photo in front of my arrangement. I did all I could to accommodate that and below are two photographs, just as she wanted.
From left - Ms Takahira, Hinata sensei, Sumura sensei, me and Lucy
The flavours were new to them and they enjoyed some foods better than others but they liked the ouzo and a good time was had by all. We finished off with Greek coffee and we even turned Ms Takahira's cup up-side-down so the dregs would create patterns, based on which Lucy pretended to read her fortune. This is the Greek version of the reading of tea leaves.
She could easily be in a cafe on a Greek island
Getting to know Ms Takahira was just one of the many, unexpected pleasures of my stay in Tokyo and I will miss her tremendously.
Until next time,