Thinking about Japan recently with all of the earthquakes there lately. Inspired by @Nicholas and @margaretyoko
  1. When I was about 5, the Yamamura's moved in across the street from us. The father worked with IBM and they transferred to the US from Yokohama.
  2. They had 2 kids, Yuki, my sister's age, and Yoshi, my age, and we all ended up going to the same elementary school. They became our constant playmates and best friends.
  3. Here's Yuki and I at the bus stop on the first day of school. Apparently trying to strike my best pose?
  4. Here's Yoshi that same day.
    The boy next to him is Brent and it's the first boy I kissed. He recently married another Caroline. His loss.
  5. They became our siblings and our other family.
  6. They always dazzled us with all things Japanese - food, Hello Kitty, customs, you name it.
    They always gave the best gifts!
  7. They stayed about 3 years until IBM moved the family back to Japan and we were devastated. Especially Yuki and my sister as they were inseparable.
  8. Of course we kept in touch and the family visited us on vacations.
  9. My sister went to live with them one summer in high school (I was incredibly jealous).
    She came home even more in love with Japan.
  10. Our house slowly filled with Japanese accessories, art, and delicious little candies.
  11. For her senior year, Yuki came to live with us and go to school.
  12. She'd cook for us and continued to teach us Japanese.
    By that time my sister had been studying it for years in school.
  13. When they graduated, I was sad to see her go back to Japan, but they both were off to college.
  14. After college my sister moved to Osaka where she taught English for four years.
  15. During that time, I would go visit and we'd explore all over.
    Nikko, Nara, Tokyo, Hiroshima, Kyoto, Nagoya, Kobe, Nagasaki, Mount Fuji, and on and on. Small villages and large cities.
  16. It was life-changing.
  17. Eventually my sister started dating a guy who took one of her classes.
    Scandalous! Jk
  18. On one of my trips, my mom and I finally met him. Hideki.
    He was wearing a t-shirt that said "Fuck Off McDonald's" on it. My mom I'm sure was loving it.
  19. We met his family and spent lots of time with them. His mom cooked 9000 dishes every time we came over.
  20. They eventually got engaged and flew back to the States to get married.
    The wedding party photos were adorable. His mom and aunt are less than 5' tall and our side of the family is pretty tall. I loved his family! Yuki came!
  21. Back to Japan they went.
  22. Yuki got married and we went to Japan for that. It was incredible.
    Except the foie gras and snails. I don't eat that. My mom, sister, and I were honored in the ceremony.
  23. Yoshi got married to a famous beauty queen and is doing quite well. He makes bank!
    He's still funny as shit.
  24. Yuki has 2 kids now! Mike and Nikki!
    That's Yuki, her husband, and Mike
  25. Yuki and Nikki!
  26. We still talk regularly and I can't wait to go back and see them and to see my favorite country!
  27. My sister eventually got divorced after 7 years of marriage (he had a hard time adapting to living in New York when they moved back. And he missed his family.)
    Long story, but we were all sad.
  28. Even so, Hideki and his family will always be our family, also. And we still talk!
  29. My sister even kept his last name because she loves it.
  30. So, I have two Japanese families and I love it.
  31. And Japan will always be a huge part of my life.
  32. For @JessicaBalboni, Brent and I.