Linda's Orchard

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All Work and No Play Makes Jack a Dull Boy

The trip so far has been very productive in terms of genealogical research and we still have two more days to gather information in the Okayama region. But no trip would be complete without some sightseeing and hands-on activities. From making Bizen Yaki cups to fighting off samurai warriors to having tea in a traditional garden, there is much to see and do in this country which so easily blends the old with the new.

Hands On Pottery Class at Okayama Castle

At Okayama Castle

Tea and Sweets at Kiribo Pottery Studio

Mother and Son Celebrate Shichi Go San

Meeting New Cousins

Sometimes when researching long deceased ancestors, we have the opportunity to meet previously unknown living descendants. Once in a great while the encounter turns into something wonderful. Such was the case with Hiroko Kumashiro. A lifelong resident of Okayama, Hiroko was trained in the traditional Japanese arts of flower arranging and tea ceremony. Her grandfather and Ted’s grandfather were brothers, making Ted and Hiroko second cousins. To complicate matters further, Hiroko’s maternal grandfather and grandmother were first cousins (their parents were siblings Sasanji and Tami Okazaki). Regardless of the connection, Ted had never heard of Hiroko before she graciously invited us into her home. The front part of the building was where she conducted her business as a wholesale antiques dealer and ikebana instructor. Behind this old storefront was her residence where we sat at the kitchen table and exchanged photos and family stories, after which Hiroko served traditional sugar sweets and matcha which she whisked right at the table. Somehow our lack of a common language became irrelevant and the afternoon was a unique combination of culture and family like none I have ever experienced.

Sharing Photos and Notes

Linda and Hiroko at her shop