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My Parents Visit Japan!

May 25, 2017

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Hello everyone!

Let me start this by saying that I was very nervous. From May 7th to May 21st, my parents visited us here in Tokyo. It’s both their first time in Japan. My father visited me in Korea maybe seven years ago, but my mother never came, so it’s her first time in Asia altogether. They’re both 72 year old Polish people that spent the first half of their lives in Poland, and the second in Canada. They’re not the most adventurous people. My father plays a lot of bridge, and my mother is a dedicated church-goer. I wasn’t sure how much they’d like Japan, seeing how different it is from life in Pickering.

I had to make sure they weren’t too shocked with the transition. They don’t travel much, but they’re even less adventurous with their food. They don’t go out to eat unless it’s someone’s birthday, and when they’re at home they cook pretty much the same few meals over and over, in different order. An example of this comes from my hatred, pure unadulterated loathing of banana bread. FUCK BANANA BREAD. Why, you might ask? Why Simon? Banana bread is delicious, you might say. And I agree with you. It’s great. But, you see, my father likes it as well. My brother’s ex-wife introduced it to us when I was a child. We all loved it. My father quickly took down the recipe and made a loaf the following day. It was lovely, we all agreed. He then went on to make a loaf every week for a decade. I hate it now. I can’t stand banana bread. It’s delicious and it’s been ruined for me.

But the point here isn’t to talk about banana bread, but about consistency, and when it comes to eating, my parents have not much variety in their food. I thought they were going to have a very tough time here in Japan with the food, but it turns out that they actually really enjoyed it. We had a strategy on how to get them acclimatized to Japanese cuisine, which we went over in this week’s podcast, and it worked out well. We didn’t give them the crazy stuff at first, and slowly worked them up to the more adventurous stuff. And worked out amazingly! My parents loved it all to bits, and told me that they’ve never eaten so well in their lives.

My father actually told me something really interesting: he said that when he watches our food videos, he’s skeptical, because I’m always saying it’s the best this or the best that. He thought I was exaggerating, but after eating here for two weeks, he now sees what I mean. Growing up in Pickering, I never ate anything as delicious as what I regularly find here in Japan. And my parents now agree. And I’m thrilled!

On a more personal note, I thought about making a video about this, but I’m not sure it’ll work out well, so I’ll just talk about it here. I had a good heart to heart with my parents. I’ve been living overseas now for almost a decade. I left Canada as a newlywed and a teacher, and now I’m about to celebrate my ten year wedding anniversary, and I do this thing called YouTube for a living. I’m very different now compared to then, but not just in career, but also in terms of personality. I was really dark in university, and that’s how my parents knew me. But after spending two weeks with them here, they told me that they feel like they’ve just been introduced to who I am. I’m calmer now, profoundly happier; still pessimistic, but not defeated about it. I’m more passionate and excited than I was. I’m more inquisitive and adventurous. And I’m just less of a dick to be around. I’m really happy my parents could see me for who I am now.

Traveling has changed me a lot, but my parents told me that in their two weeks here they’ve changed, too. They’re looking at food differently now than before, for starters, but they also loved their experience of everyday Japan. They loved how organized it is. My dad told me how he saw a girl on the subway watching something funny, and she was laughing, but she covered her mouth and laughed quietly so as not to disturb anyone, and he was amazed. Why wasn’t she howling with laughter so that everyone would hear her? Why is everyone driving so calmly? Why is nobody honking their horns when they drive? Why are the dogs so well behaved? Even the dogs don’t bark! I could see that it impacted them, and they’re going to think about their lives in their community in Pickering, and in Canada, differently. I’m interested in seeing how they feel after a few weeks back in Canada.

On that note, we’re flying out to Canada on May 31st, and we’ll be there for a few weeks. We’ve got some family things to attend, one of them being Martina’s new nephew! Another one being our ten year anniversary celebration. It’s going to be a wild three weeks, but it’ll also be a chance for me to see how my parents have re-acclimitized to Canada. I’ll see. I’ll let you know if anything new happens :D

I’m going to post a few family pictures because I’m sappy. LOOK AT HOW SMOL MY MUM IS.

So that’s it for this week. We filmed something completely wild two days ago. Going to work on that footage now and see how much of it is usable. Hopefully it turns out to be fun!

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My Parents Visit Japan!

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  1. Awwwwwww….what a sweet video. It’s great that your parents were great sports about being put on the internet so that we could share in this experience with you guise. Almost a sweet montage with the short clips, but just long enough to get the exotic feel of things. I’m sure that it will bring a smile to their faces and a great length so that they can show their friends at home ^_^v By the way, I feel for you Simon when it comes to Dads and spices. Even in the Dominican Republic, at the table of a professional chef hired for my sister’s wedding where everyone was ooh-ing and aah-ing over the flavour of the food, my Dad pulls out a 5-inch diameter can of salt and a smaller one of pepper and covered his food before he even tasted it >_<. I expect that he'd be worse in Japan since they have such a subtle approach to flavour sometimes and their general level of saltiness is much lower. I enjoy japanese food myself, and some of it is spiCY (yum!) but I guess that you have to switch your taste-expectations to really enjoy food from a different culture. Also, I think it's age. Not that your sense of taste deteriorates with age (it might?) but that in certain eras, the Western world was not known for having strongly flavoured food. Sometimes RICH food, but not really flavour-bursty the was you can get today from more tropical-influenced dishes and our parents grew up in that environment so that they expect salt and pepper as necessary to make anything taste half-way decent. I do love banana bread, but I can relate. At one point, my Dad became obsessed with filet mignon and he would by the entire filet from the butcher every week and make bacon-wrapped steaks 2-3 times a week on the BBQ, every week, for months. It's the best steak but I honestly couldn't even look at a steak after that for a good 10 years. I only got over it because I got stuck in a situation on a business trip of no food for 10 hours, late at night, the only place open in the whole city was my hotel's restaurant (closing in 15 minutes) and they only had 3 dishes and the sirloin steak looked the most filling. It was soooooo delicious. Seriously turned me around on steaks again. Best way: cut a BBQ-ed filet mignon (cooked with Montreal steak spice) in half horizontally and put each half in a toasted english muffin with salt and pepper, maybe a little gruyere cheese, maybe some tomato, it's sheer heaven. Although, having made menchi-katsu several times at home after seeing your video on it (so easy!), they are a close second ;) Salad Martina? So sad, at least they offer it at CocoCurry at all and it didn't look too boring :), better than having to sit there and watch others eat with nothing on your plate at all. I'm sure that you will eat some yummy stuff again when you come back to Canada! Also, have a great time in Canada! I hope that you get a chance to read some of my letter before you leave as that's part of why I sent it now (instead of in a pkg) but I don't expect a response per se…. though you're always so sweet about it Simon.

    5 months ago
    • Oh Simon, your Mom reminds me of one of my Grandmas when she was that age, out of her element but quietly trying so hard and so cheerfully and so damned adorable for it that you just want to hug the stuffings out of her every second moment! I’m glad that she braved the trip, I’m sure that you all had a great time as a family XD

      5 months ago
  2. I loved this video & after reading the blog, I’m doubly touched. Sometimes our lives take such drastic turns that we become such different people from who we once were: Simon, I’m so happy that yours has taken such a positive direction & that you’re so genuinely happy that it’s changed you for the better ::HUG::! Your love for your family (Martina, Spudgy, Meemers, your adorable parents) is so inspiring it makes me so happy seeing it. Thank you for sharing (Martina, I sadly have the in-laws from the Outer Limits of Hell & it makes me happy knowing that you DON’T!) as always & I hope you guise have a wonderful time in Canada & advanced Happy Anniversary! Healing & happy thoughts for Martina’s mom (and all her family❤️) & warm welcome to the new family member: he’s joined a wonderful bunch of people ^_^. Safe travels & it would be beyond wonderful if your parents moved to Japan, too!

    5 months ago
    • Amendment: so not all my in-laws are awful…. lol, can you just delete my comment? ^_^

      5 months ago
  3. To takie urocze oglądać Cię Szymonie jak stajesz się przy swoich rodzicach małym chłopcem :) Zawsze chciałam zawieźć moją mamę i tatę do jakiegoś obcego kraju, bo znają niestety tylko swoją małą wioskę w Polsce. Patrząc na ten film wyobrażałam sobie, jakby moi rodzice reagowali na taką podróż i myślę, że bardzo podobnie. Pozdrawiam serdecznie!
    It’s time to pratice your Polish more :) I’d love a new segment “Simon teaches (himself) Polish”

    5 months ago
    • Hahaha. Holy shit: that took me a full minute to read. I had to sound it all out loud. Thank you. I hope you can get a chance to travel with your parents as well. That is what you said, right? I think I understood what you said :D

      5 months ago
      • You did! And well done! :) I’m a teacher so giving out tasks is in my my blood lol :) Btw, my students still think about the time you showed on camera the drawings of Spudgy and Meemers :) See you at a live stream in a couple of minutes. Nie mogę się doczekać, bo to mój pierwszy live stream :)

        5 months ago
  4. Cis

    This was such a wonderful video to watch! I just loved it will all my heart and all else I can say is that I hope that you will have a wonderful wedding aniversary and that you both will get to see your family more <3

    5 months ago
  5. This video literally made my day. I can’t even point out why. But it’s just these two elder people having such a great time in a cat cafe. My sister came in to see what on earth was going on because I just started laughing and yelling “aaaw” or “this makes me so happy” I showed her the video. She understood. This was a great video.

    5 months ago
  6. Your parents are super adorable! Oh goodness, your mum is so super smol next to her big dothraki man-son XD I’m happy for you that their trip went well and that they were affected so positively by their visit! It goes to show, it’s never too late to try new things ^_^

    Simon, your reflection on who you were in university compared to who you are now really made me think. I’d actually love to see a video where you talk about that, and what influenced that shift towards who you are today. I’m 28, but I’m kind of going through that negative, angry stage right now. My teens were pretty calm, mostly because I lived in a bubble and I had to be the peacekeeper of my tumultuous family. I’ve changed a lot since then, and I’ve become much more aware of the world around me. It all seems so negative and, at times, hopeless. I feel like I’ve changed into a significantly more pessimistic person, and I sometimes have problems controlling my anger and frustration over the injustices I see across the world. My question to you is how do you balance being a pessimistic person with not letting it get you down? Some days my dark views swallow me, and I can’t find a way to be hopeful. I’d really appreciate your perspective, or the perspective of any wonderful Nasties reading this. Thanks for your time, and thank you to you and Martina for being such a positive influence on all our lives!

    I hope you and Martina have an amazing time in Canada! Happy tenth anniversary!

    4 months ago
  7. This video had me smiling so much the entire time. Thank you for sharing with us! I also wish you safe travels back to Canada!

    5 months ago
  8. Simon’s Glee at the thought of killing his dad with spice.

    This is a great video. It was neat to see you interact with your family and see that side of you.

    5 months ago
  9. I loved seeing how much your parents were enjoying themselves and trying new food. Watching Simon’s dad try that street food was just like watching Simon’s reaction, they’re so alike! And your mom is adorable at the end, she didn’t know Spudgy asked for his tummy to be touched! Haha. I love watching your videos! I hope both of you guyses’ parents are able to visit Japan more often :)

    5 months ago
  10. This video (along with the podcast) actually have great timing because my mother is making a trip out to visit me in Okayama in July. It will be her first time in Japan too! Although…I have a bit of the opposite problem as with Simon’s parents because my mother is really adventurous and loves trying new foods but she has like a whole book-full of dietary restrictions and food sensitivities (she can’t eat gluten, most dairy products, and a handful of fruits, vegetables, and spices). So there are all these great foods that I love and want to share but she can’t eat most of them. I’m thinking of taking her out for yakitori like you guys did with Simon’s parents…sushi too. Also, she’s only going to be in the country for four days so…I’m on a bit of a time crunch. But I think nonetheless it will be a good experience for us to share, and it will be worth it to show off how well I’ve adjusted to living in another country! Wish me luck! haha

    5 months ago
  11. ooh, I love the photograph of your parents with the Saitamaya guy. Awesome how after being introduced to his family, you get to introduce him to yours :D

    4 months ago
  12. This is the sweetest thing I’ve read today

    5 months ago
  13. Those family photos are lovely! Cherish those!

    5 months ago
  14. What is you guys relationship with each other’s parents? I don’t think you guys are the “horrible mother in law” type of family. But it must be interesting living over seas for so long and not having so much interaction with your own families, let alone the family of your spouse.

    5 months ago
    • We both like our in-laws. Martina’s parents are great, and my parents are lovely to her as well. We really lucked out there!

      5 months ago
  15. Aw, this makes me wish they would move out there! I can tell they really liked it. To be honest, Japan is great for older people!

    5 months ago
  16. Awww this made my day!!! I may have an adventure like this come January. My husband and I are renewing our vows in Mexico for our 10th wedding anniversary. We are taking his parents (Polish as well but born in Canada) they have never been out of the country so it will be interesting to see how they handle the food and culture!

    5 months ago