Bulls Meet World: Host Mother

The person in the above photograph is Sekimoto Tsuneko, the host mother for me while I stayed abroad in Japan. In the photograph, she’s celebrating a Japanese holiday, where one eats an uncut role of sushi without speaking. She was the housekeeper in a very gendered Japanese society where despite working a full job, she was also expected to cook, clean, and do laundry. Even though she was overburdened with work and chores, she was the most energetic of anyone at the household, always bursting with liveliness and never missing an opportunity to comment on something, jump into conversation, or be present in some manner. A good cook and conversationalist, she helped me practice Japanese while I helped her with her English. She told me many stories about the students who had come before myself, and about how she had kept in touch with them and how they impacted her. She was an avid traveler and her room was decorated with dozens of pictures of her in foreign lands.

2 thoughts on “Bulls Meet World: Host Mother

  1. Aloha,

    I was an exchange student from California 25 years ago and also stayed with the Sekimotos in Yawata-shi for my junior semester abroad. My daughter just found a postcard from Tsukeno (my host mom) and so I decided to google her (we lost touch and back then email was not yet widespread). Your blog was the first search result 😊 I have the postcard that I can send you a pic of… would love if you have her email address, if you’d forward mine to her and let her know I would love to reconnect all these years. Please email me if so. Mahalo Nui Loa!


    1. Teri! You were the student who stayed with the Sekimoto’s right before me! Mama-san always talked so fondly of you!
      I’d love to connect and also reconnect with Tsukeno.
      Here is my email agchan88@yahoo.com.

      Best wishes,


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