I found out that Paris is one of the Kyoto's sister cities, and I've met a lot of French working professionals/students here - seems like they have special connection in between the two beautiful cities.
I met my Parisian Ben through Couchsurfing which I've been on for the last 9 years. Couchsurfing is a website for travelers who want to interact with locals, and they can even ask people to let them stay on their couches, or asking some local tips or hanging out with locals or other travelers. When I was accepting travelers in Fukuoka, we hosted so many travelers - more than 40 groups in total. And I kept offering my house with my family after I went back to my hometown that is in the middle nowhere and no one knows.
Ben was brave enough to send me a couchsurfing request and asked us if he could stay at our place in tiny town for a few nights, we were like "WHY NOT?", and it turned out to be one of the best couchsurfing experiences and the very first step of our long term friendship!
We showed him around my town, rocked my grandma's Karaoke bar with locals, enjoyed local food, people, overall great time. My family liked him so much that they showed him around even without me!
We were so impressed by his heart, flexibility, communication skill and how social he is in general, and we send each other postcard wherever we travel to, he usually sends me two postcards - one for me in English and the other one for my family in Japanese!
I got to visit him in Paris two years ago, and stayed with him and his fiancée for two weeks!
Paris was so beautiful - and I was surprised to see how many free stuff they could offer, from outdoor cinema to music event to art museum. And always great to hang out with locals to know the best part of the city apart from touristic things. People are so natural and know how to enjoy life, even though I imagine living in the big city like Paris can be tough and stressful sometimes.
It was so nice seeing him and Anna being together and happy, and they even asked me
"Emiko, can you come back to Paris in 3 months because we're having wedding then? And Anna is pregnant!"
I was so happy even though I couldn't make it to their wedding, and OH MY GOSH their baby boy Noah is the cutest on earth. We write and skype, I'm very happy to see Noah growing up!
And they finally came to Japan, second time for Ben and the first time for Anna. They decided to leave Noah in Paris this time but I hope he can make it some time in the future :)
Me and my boyfriend showed them around a bit of Kyoto with a lot of "only in Japan" experience! Anna is so curious about everything and very adventurous! I love her so much, as a friend, as a mom of one, and as a working independent woman! (lawyer!)
|Toji antique market|
|hahahaha Anna is serious|
|And even Karaoke!|
I love couchsurfing but it's pretty rare to keep contacting with the travelers, Ben is an exception!
I hope to see them again (and Noah), hopefully next time in Paris!