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Preparation seems to come as second nature for Yusuke. During both of my earlier visits anything Yusuke had set his mind on, was organised with amazing precision and efficiency. This time was no different. The day before we set out to go camping, Yusuke took Ane and me along to make all the preparations stopping at the outdoors store, at several shops to get food and at a small store filled to the brim with bottles of different types of sake.

It felt good leaving the concrete jungle of Naha behind us, the vegetation grew more dense as nature seemed to take back the landscape from the buildings. A feeling of adventure and relaxation crept up on us. The sun seemed to get brighter the closer we came to Yagaji island, a smaller island off the North-Western shore of Okinawa’s main island. The sun gaining in strength was a burning reminder of my lack of preparation skills when during a brief half way stop, the scorching sun made me realise I forgot to bring my sunscreen. However once we set foot on the camping site at the beach all stress and exhaustion from adjusting to our new world (and me worrying about the forgotten sunscreen) was immediately gone. The strong ocean breeze and the sound of waves crashing reminded us both of our own homes.

Shortly after we had arrived, Naoko, together with their two daughters, parked her car next to us. During my first visit their first daughter had just been born, during my second visit the second one was underway, but this time the family was complete. With a little help from everyone, including the little ones, the patch of grass at the edge of the beach was transformed into a campsite that turned out to be better equipped and more spacious than some of the Airbnb apartments we would later on stay on our trip.

The following days were spent playing games, learning origami from their 5 year old daughter, enjoying food prepared by Yusuke (who is quite possibly the best campsite chef I know) and catching up over sake while time lazily passed by. However what I will forever remember is how openly I, and this time Ane as well, have been welcomed into their family. None of my Japan trips would have been the same without their kindness, the adventures and Yusuke’s distinct heart warming laughter.

Oh…and I will never forget the excited face of a five year old yelling “赤い! 赤い!” while pointing at my normally pale white skin.



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