Recently by Kate T. Williamson:

 

 

When I moved back to my parents’ home in Reading, Pennsylvania, I thought it would be a brief stopover. I had recently graduated from college and just returned from a year in Japan; I was hoping to live with my parents while I worked on a book. What started as a three-month visit grew into a 23-month extended stay.

This time at home was not, however, without its memorable moments. Highlights included celebrating my 24th birthday at a Hall & Oates concert with my mother; attending the Mid-Atlantic District Barbershop Chorus Championships in Wildwood, New Jersey, with my father; a variety of squirrel encounters; and wearing a chain mail belt of my own creation to my cousin’s Renaissance-themed wedding.

Daily life was filled with pleasant discoveries (noticing the train sounds from my bedroom for the first time, watching the moon from the roof) but tinged with the… More…

As soon as I walked out of the train station on my first day in Kyoto, I knew that I would love Japan. I passed the ground floor of a department store on my way to the street. To my right, next to purses and scarves, was a wall of color and pattern — windowpane plaid, polka dots, orange and turquoise, red and magenta, lime and navy. Upon closer inspection, I realized it was a display of washcloths, the most beautiful washcloths I had ever seen. (Unlike their American counterparts, usually relegated to some fourth-floor linen department and confined to neutral bathroom hues, these squares of terry are not used for washing but are kept in purses for drying one’s hands in public restrooms.)

The washcloths were my first exposure to the attention to detail that characterizes much of Japan — both visually and socially. I soon… More…