Akita: Exaggerated gestures of welcome are seldom expressed in Japan. Instead of a hug, my mother's first words to me were penetratingly painful. Referring to my gray hair, she uttered, "You look like a grandma, like me." She was not disrespectful. She was just surprised and disappointed to see her daughter having aged. By the way, in order to shut the mouth of my family over my gray hair, I spent ¥3700 ($48) to make my hair more stylish. I hate the obsession in superficial beauty, but sometimes it is easier if I give in partially.
Another aspect that I continue to feel resentful is the clear division between the male and female roles. My step-father (center) brought back the two men after a meeting and a dinner party. They were drunk when they walked in, and they continued to drink. In between serving them, mother (second from the left) and I sat on chairs a little distance from the table and listened to their boasts and jokes. After the guests had left, mother asked me, "Weren't they fun?" I did not answer to the question. While she seemed to have enjoyed the unexpected visit, I had needed to restrain my desire to leave the obligation of accompanying the drunkards.
It is universal that love can be expressed in nutritional meals that mothers prepare. The above left is a breakfast that my mother made for me yesterday. The above right is my niece's "bento" box. I was happy that my sister made one for me as well.