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Our family has two distinctive and important memories related to Yokohama Harbor. The first is from July 16, 1964, which is the date that we first set foot on Japanese soil. As we sailed into the harbor after 15 days on the P & O Orient’s Oronsay passenger ship we were somewhat apprehensive, but excited, about this adventure.
We had heard stories about what to expect, such as smelly toilets, but weren’t completely ready for the open hole we found at the temporary custom’s area where we had a four hour wait for the baggage that we had brought with us. It was a hot and humid day, which aggravated the odors of the toilet and harbor. Thank goodness Don’s brother, David, his landlord and son and two of David’s students were there to greet us diminishing my desire to get back on the ship and go home. Their welcome made us somewhat comfortable about the fact that we had arrived with nearly no knowledge of Japan and her people and a limited amount of cash.
Two years later on August 20, 1966 we were back at the Yokohama Harbor with a better understanding of this country and enough cash to prepay for a journey between Yokohama and West Berlin. It was another hot and humid day, but there was a new custom’s building with better toilet facilities and we had either become accustomed to the smells of the harbor or they were less invasive.
Standing on the deck of the Soviet Union passenger ship named Khabarovsk, with our 4 year old and 6 year old children, we heard cries of “teacher, teacher” from nearly 100 well-wishers who had come to see us off. Friends and neighbors had brought gifts of norimaki, green tea, toys for the children, paper necklaces and more. Even the president of Yoyogi Seminar had come with gifts and good wishes. We held tight to the ticker tape streamers that we had been bombarded with until they broke as the ship sailed out of the harbor. We were off for a new adventure leaving behind good friends and memories which made us certain that we would return some day.