The couple in this picture is Hideyuki and Ma-chan Nakajima. Not pictured is their son Terumitsu, and the three of them are amongst the kindest people I have ever met. I'm so happy to be able to call them friends.
From a chance meeting with Teru at a bowling event we met most of our closest friends from Osaka including his parents who we visited with often.
One trip was to the shrine this picture is from, Omiwa (大神神社) in Nara prefecture. It's one of the oldest shrines in the entire country and sometimes called Japan's first shrine.
The Nakajima's took us through an entire shinto ceremony, a once in a lifetime experience. Our names were taken and our addresses too so that the priest could give directions to the god of the shrine so when he came to give us blessings he'd be able to find us. I don't think he uses Google Maps, and let's be honest, Japanese addresses are a little bit of madness. The god probably could use all the help he can get to find everyone who needs blessings.
Afterwards I apologized to the priest as my name just totally messed him up when he had to read it out loud. I could just see the wheels turning in his head when he got to it... "what the....?" What I really love about Hideyuki and Ma-chan is the clarity of their affection for each other and for their son Teru. They have that kind of relationship they make all the movies and write all the books about; a quiet, unspoken understanding that they are partners in everything. One without the other is just half. This entire family gives with no expectations and wants nothing more than to share time together.
They've become an example of what I'd like my life to be and this shot of them climbing the stairs together, hand in hand, will always be one of my favorite memories of Japan. •
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