June 2, 1997
Location: Mitchell, Nebraska - Location: 41:56:25N 103:48:29W Elevation: 3945 feet
Summary: Monday, June 2, 1997 (Cloudy / Rain) Mitchel 69.8F
Journal entry: [Translated by Tomoko Nakayama]
Altitude: 3833ft. Atmosphere pressure: 886pha.
There was an awful storm last night. It started to thunder from around 10:00p.m. and all the scenery around us was light like midday. It seemed as if the lightning would break the night sky. Rain fell so loud, we couldn't hear ourselves in the tent. I was the only one who worried if the water would come into the tent as my wife and children slept soundly. When we started moving, it was cloudy, but it started raining after a while. I tried to pitch the tent while the rain had stopped, but in the end, water still got inside the tent. This was the second time that the tent had sunk in water. We had experienced being partially wet many times, but this was the first time for us that water had flooded our tent an inch high. It might have been very shocking if it had been the first time, but instead, we calmly took pictures and video tapes.
When we arrived the town named Mitchell, two second generation Japanese American old ladies came to see us. They knew about us through the TV and the newspapers, and they had come all the way to see us. The lady, whose name was Francis Kanno, she had lived in Japan from age seven until she had graduated from girl's school, so her Japanese was good. Tomoyo Yamada couldn't speak Japanese very well, but she was a good-natured old lady. "Erakattadesho," Francis asked my children. They didn't understand the word, which means "terrible" or "hard," so they wondered what she had meant.
"Dad, what did she say?" Koji asked me. I explained the word, but since I was expalining a Japanese word in Japanese, it was a little strange.
"I brought matsutake (mushroom) rice," Francis said.
"Matsutake rice!" we couldn't believe our ears. Even in Japan, this would have been a special treat.
"I also have pickled plums." We were even more overjoyed.
I had never thought that I would be able to eat a pickled plum in a place like this. The children stared at the Japanese food which these old ladies had prepared for us. Tenpura of shungiku (a garland chrysanthemum), tofu, seaweed, rice balls... all favorite Japanese foods.
"We made this too, because we won't get another chance to meet people making this kind of journey here,"said Tomoyo. It was red beans rice.
"It is good to meet you like this place," Tomoyo continued with kindly eyes.
"Dad, I want to eat red beans rice," my two children said eagerly. It was splendid red beans rice. Rice was a little pinkish in color and looked dry, but still it was great rice. I had been more than a long time since I had eaten this. I timidly tried the rice. But this red beans rice was splendid. The children stuffed their mouths, while Takako ate quietly. I chewed the rice slowly, but with every chew, I remembered various things about Japan. Tears came to my eyes. I had never thought I would start to cry just by eating red beans rice.
Japanese people who immigrated seemed to have hard and tough experiences more than we can imagine. These two old ladies told us interestingly stories about their past.
"You are great," they said many times, but I thought that these two old ladies and other Japanese American people are greater. These wonderful ladies were more Japanese than native Japanese people. And more "pioneers" than we were.