The man who was the rock and strength of my family, and always sweet in the most unusual ways was my Grandpa, Norman Inouye.
Grandpa fought cancer for more than a year around 2012. What lingered in his mind throughout his battle with cancer was traveling to Japan. He wasn’t getting healthier and chemotherapy was ruthless to him. To fulfill one of his last wishes, my Grandma planned a trip for him and my family to go to Japan. Although his outward expressions were usually stoic, I knew that he had to be ecstatic inside after hearing about the trip.
After what felt like an excruciating nine hour flight on Japan Airlines, we arrived in Japan. Immediately, after you step out of the airport doors, you notice the drop in temperature. I remember loving this change, coming from Hawaii. The constant breeze on my face was sensational. At one time when the weather got extremely cold, my Grandpa told me, “Cover your face.” I was very shocked at the comment because it seemed very blunt. I thought something odd was coming towards us or someone was secretly stalking us. Then after a moment of silence, I supposed he wasn’t finished so I waited and Grandpa continued, “If you want to stay warm, you gotta cover your whole face so that you stay warm.” I felt relief knowing that Grandpa was just trying to keep me warm.
[one_third]To fulfill one of his last wishes, my Grandma planned a trip for him and my family to go to Japan.[/one_third]
Prior to our trip, we had heard that Japan’s 7-11 stores have great food. My family and I decided to go to one and try out their “specialized” pre-packaged food. Lucky for us, there was one in the lobby of our hotel. It felt serendipitous so we had to try it out. Most of us had the mapo tofu and the curry, and we thought they were delicious. We liked it enough to return a second time, but that was when things went downhill for my dad. He fell ill with food poisoning and we were sure it came from something at 7-11. While my dad’s condition was nothing compared to my grandpa’s, my dad was miserable and we were glad it happened towards the end of the trip.
This trip allowed me to spend much time with Grandpa. We ate every meal together, including one purchased off a vending machine. That was pretty cool. We went up Mount Fuji and experienced snow for the first time with Grandpa.
Grandpa finally lost his battle with cancer and I miss him beyond words. Our trip together gave me an extent memory of our relationship to hold onto and I’m really glad that I had quality time with him in Japan before he passed away. He was such a strong, loving, stoic, person and teacher and will always be one of my role models.
Photographs courtesy of Nikki Kaneshiro.