What the Go-Betweens Know

Marriage go-betweens traditionally offered advice — not rubber stamping. I regret that I didn’t do more to ask for advice. Our Go-between was largely ceremonial and added a definite touch of impressiveness. But what I needed more than anything was a primer in Japanese marriage—what would be expected of me. And through soul- searching to […]

Moving Forward with my Mother

Yesterday I found it quite distressing the shedding of the leaves on this small lemon bush –a tragedy I thought. Today I see heaven’s hand in all of this. Without the leaves I could better see the butterfly engaged in reading. Yes, reading! I couldn’t believe my eyes either when I saw the photo after snapping away […]

Digging into My New York City Past

Since I’ve been in Japan more than half my life now–thirty years it will be this September–the New York City that I know comes with the baggage of being a jet-lagged mother of two randy children whose idea of a grand time in the Big Apple is playing on the  monkey bars in Central Park.  Now that they […]

When Death is Like Rocket Fuel

What makes an epic memoir epic is the sad fact that people die. Here in my wedding photo the only man left is Akihiko in the front row. His uncle Susumu, his father Toshihiko, my father Carol, and my step-father Leon have passed. And now the latest and dearest family member, my mother, has gone […]

Happy Hannukah from my mother

I’m just six weeks into mourning the loss of my mother and my approach, at least so far, is to think of doing things that would please my mother,make her proud of what she herself accomplished in her 84 years, and even to do things that bring resolution to what she left unfinished. My mother […]

Farewell to the Mother of the Bride

My mother Adrianne Lebensbaum’s  lifelong habit of voracious reading gave weight to her astute comments about everything I’ve ever written. The Wagamama Bride’s progress — and what was holding up its completion — peppered our trans-Pacific long-distance conversations to the point where she jokingly said to me over the summer, “Liane, I sure hope it’s done before […]

When a First-Born Japanese Son is Unlikely to Move Overseas

AFWJ is the acronym for the Association of Foreign Wives of Japanese, of which I’m a member, even though – as the old Woody Allen joke goes: I would never join a club that would have me as a member. Despite my reluctance to join the AFWJ, I did finally break out of my introverted shell a […]

A Wagamama Menu

I swear, with all my heart, that I did not name my memoir after London’s wildly successful Japanese noodle restaurant chain by the same name. But I can’t help but admit that this past August while in London for a family reunion we did sneak in a decent bowl of stir fried rice down by the […]

Mother of the Bride

Why is it that those last steps to the mountain summit are always the hardest? It’s the point you want to give up and turn back and say this is more than I can do. I’m out of air. I’m out of breath. Well, that’s just about where I was in writing my memoir. I could […]

Self-Portrait of the Author

Today September 28th is an anniversary. Today marks completion of 29 always surreal years in Japan. I’ve now lived here more than half of my life but time operates at such an accelerated pace in this city of 35 million souls that I feel sometimes as if I’ve been here lifetimes. It’s a fact that still hasn’t […]

Japanese in-laws, a Jewish daughter-in-law

Yesterday was a “red number” day on the Japanese calendar – the national holiday Keiro no Hi, Respect for the Aged Day. Here in this excerpt from The Wagamama Bride, I invite you to meet my in-laws for the first time with me in their home in Okachimachi, Tokyo… Meeting the Future In-Laws August 1989 The journey […]

Return to Innocence

Excerpt from The Wagamama Bride, a memoir in progress…   I was at Akahigedo getting treatment from a Chinese psychic who used an unusual technique to align her brain waves with mine and a room full of other people. Moving my feet like windshield wipers I visualized sun and moon alternately. After a while I […]