Tea With Milk

At bedtimes this weekend, we’ve been having the Allen Say Lit Fest. The night before last, we read Say’s latest book, The Kamishibai Man, at the end of which I always get all choked up and hope that Jio doesn’t notice. Last night we read one of my favorites, Tea With Milk, which is the story of how Say’s parents met. His mother was born to Japanese parents in the United States, but moved to Japan when she was in high school. His Korean-born father was raised in China by European foster parents. At one point, May, the mother character is longing to go back to the United States where she can live the way she likes, but Joseph, her suitor, says if you have certain things, like a home, food you like, work you enjoy and good conversation,one place is as a good as another. I try to remember this when I am discouraged about living in Japan and wanting to uproot my own kids even though I read somewhere that Say was miserable as a child and his parents got divorced.


2 thoughts on “Tea With Milk

  1. It’s that awful dilema facing ex-pats isn’t it. “Where would our children be better off?” “would they settle in what is to them a foriegn country?” and so on. I have the same gnawing uncertainty over my future – should I go back to the UK while daughter is young enough to adjust to schools there, or stick it out in Japan because we’re settled here.


  2. Hi Suz,

    I was moved by the last line you wrote, about how miserable Say was. I am one of the people who lived for a long time in Japan and left. It was really really hard to readjust to being back in the US, especially because so much was so easy there. I have never never regretted moving back. My life is more full here than it could ever be there. It is also rich because I was there.


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