So to say that I have a Japanese mom is not to say that I'm replacing my mom, but just adding to the family. Junko owned a little gyoza shop not far from our apartment, and it was one of the first places I ate when I moved here. She knew a little English, and her whole family worked in the restaurant: her daughter was waitstaff, her son cooked the gyoza, and her husband, well, I'm not sure what he did, but he was there too. When Nate and Ethan arrived in Japan, Junko's shop was one of the first places I took them. We ate there frequently, and eventually a friendship grew between us and Junko's family, and we always looked forward to seeing them. When Nate's family came to visit in February, Junko came over with cakes and cookies to welcome them.
She loved it when I began to call her my Japanese mom. About two months ago, she began to have health problems, and I was shocked to see that just a few weeks ago, her shop was shut down. I immediately called her, to make sure she was ok. She said she was fine, it was just too much for her to run the gyoza shop and her other job making bentos to sell the hospitals. I told her I missed her, and she invited us to come to her house last Saturday to have tea.
Not only did we have tea, but cakes, cookies, all sorts of snacks. She pulled out all the stops. We talked with her and her daughter in a Japanese/English hybrid language that seemed to work for us. Here's some interesting things I learned about Junko;
- She used to be on a cooking show in Sapporo called Vitamin TV. She's like the Julia Child of Sapporo!
- Her son and husband don't drink, but she and her daughter love to drink!
- Because of above, she offered us some of her homemade umeshu. It was three years old, and STRONG! Made my face turn red!
- She once owned an izekaya in Sumikawa, as well as her gyoza shop and her bento business. Girlfriend is busy!!
It was a great way to spend an afternoon, and she wants us to come by again to make temakisushi. As she was walking us to the door, she gestured to a bedroom, and told me that when we move back to America and come to visit Sapporo, she has a room ready for us.
I think I'll take her up on that offer!