Last weekend, hubby and me had been to my father-in-law's home in Ichinomiya, Aichi prefecture for a visit and also to attend the wedding ceremony of a friend. The friend's wedding was on Sunday, the 7th of December and we had nothing much to do on Saturday. So on Saturday, my sister-in-law (hubby's sister) and her kids, my hubby and me visited Tatsu-chan, hubby's aunt (my late mother-in-law's younger sister) in Okazaki, Aichi prefecture.
Tatsu-chan (formally Tatsuko-san) has been a source of great influence and important fixture in my hubby's life. When hubby was a little child of about two, Tatsu-chan was a university student and lived with hubby's family for a few years. During those days, my in-laws were very busy in their respective jobs and it was Tatsu-chan who literally took care of my hubby. As a child, hubby thought that Tatsu-chan was the smartest person in the world. I have been to her place a few times in the past three years, and I know that not only is she the smartest person but is one of the kindest person I have ever met in Japan. The first time I met Tatsu-chan in 2005, I was shocked and pleasantly surprised to notice the striking resemblance between her and the few photos of my mother-in-law that I have seen. I guess she was strict with my hubby during his upbringing as he is still a bit scared of her, which is probably out of respect for her.
Nowadays my sister-in-law is very busy taking care of two very small kids. Although it is very satisfying to see the kids growing up, but presently sister-in-law gets absolutely no time for herself. So once in a while she goes to Tatsu-chan's home, where she does not have to care about anything under the sun! Everything is taken care of by Tatsu-chan! For that matter, whenever my hubby feels low, he wishes to see Tatsu-chan. I guess Tatsu-chan fills the lacuna created by the untimely passing away of my mother-in-law fourteen years back. Tatsu-chan is like a mother to my hubby and his sister and provides all the moral support they need. In fact, last year I had been to the Institute for Molecular Science in Okazaki for some official work and stayed at the guest house of the institute. Since Tatsu-chan's home is only stone's throw away from the institute, I had a great temptation to go and visit her. Tatsu-chan and her family were probably shocked to get a foreigner visitor at 8 in the night!
On 6th December, we went to Tatsu-chan's home by my sister-in-law's car as it is very spacious and all five of us (hubby, me, sister-in-law and her two kids) could ride very convenienty. We were supposed to start the road trip at 10.30 in the morning. But we had to wait for about 20 more minutes for my sister-in-law (who lives nearby) to arrive in my father-in-law's home as she had to get two little kids ready for the trip, which is not an easy task. During this time, for no rhyme or reason, my hubby started looking up the world atlas. This was probably to hide his excitement of meeting Tatsu-chan though I am not sure about it!
Hubby reading the world atlas while waiting for his sister to arrive home
It took us about one hour and 20 minutes to reach Okazaki from my father-in-law's home. Tatsu-chan's daughter was also at home as it was a holiday. She is a university student of Arts faculty and is very busy with her studies. I like Tatsu-chan's daughter a lot. It is really wonderful to see a young lady with so much hopes and dreams in life! We all took a few photos together for keepsake. Notice that my hubby is not seen in any of these photos as he was the photographer!
Tatsu-chan, hubby's sister and her kids, me, and hubby's cousin
It was almost lunch time when we reached Tatsu-chan's home. We had a delicious lunch of rice and oden, a winter specialty. She cooked such mouthwatering food that our full concentration was on eating and we completely forgot to take a photo of the various dishes she cooked! But we did thorough justice to her cooking! By the time we finished our lunch, almost everything was over. After lunch we all chatted about many things. Sister-in-law's older kid had a nice time watching cartoon movies. We got many presents (omiyage in Japanese) from Tatsu-chan.
Presents from Tatsu-chan
Soon it was time to return back to my father-in-law's home. That day time passed very fast indeed. By the end of the day we all were very happy to have visited Tatsu-chan, especially hubby and my sister-in-law had broad smile on their faces! Thanks Tatsu-chan for everything.