Jan and I went in search of dinner on Wednesday 12/21 in Hamamatsu. A good source is always the Japanese train stations. Unlike those in the USA, Japanese train stations have stores so you can shop on your way to/from work (groceries, clothing, medicines, convenience items, restaurants, and more). Often times, the train stations are right next to theatres and concert halls too.
So we wound up at the Hamamatsu train station, seated at the counter in a noodle shop (because we really like Japanese food, and I love the udon!).
The lady next to us was there alone, and spoke up when we seated next to her. She spoke very good English (but with a heavy accent), and was great company.
Noriyo told us all about her life, and Jan and I were finally able to get some of our lingering questions about Japanese culture answered. She was a single mother, and her son (age 30) was searching for a job, while she held a position as food critic for grocery store suppliers. She told us of the difficulties she had as a single mother, and how she wished she could meet a nice Japanese man to marry (but it wasn't so easy, she said). Noriyo traveled a lot when a young lady, and fell for a man in Pakistan while living/working there. She became pregnant, but returned home to tend to her ailing parents. Her mother died before the baby was born, and her sick father lived only a short time longer. Caring for an infant, handling her parents' estate, and trying to work consumed all her time. When she contact her boy's father, the religious differences and distance kept them from reuniting. Life went on, and she downsized the big family house to an apartment closer to work. When her boy became old enough to possibly apprentice work with his father, Noriyo searched for him in Pakistan, only to find that he had passed away, leaving her with absolutely no family members in either country. However, she is an outgoing and interesting person, and we found her to be delightful.
We invited Noriyo to attend the next day's concert, and she came! It was great getting to know her.