Military families are accustomed to moving around a lot, and many look forward to meeting new people and making friends all over the world.
Reddit user Theresa is no different in that regard. In 2013, Theresa and her family moved to Yokosuka, Japan, to live near the United States Navy base where her husband was stationed. In spite of the language barrier the family immediately got to work meeting their neighbors.
Theresa and her husband brought beer and chocolate to all of their neighbors including Hiroshi, an elderly man who lived in the house next to theirs.
“We had brought him a six pack and some chocolate and tried to introduce ourselves to him,” she wrote. “I’m sure our introduction was just as funny as his. A couple hours later he brought over this letter with a pack of toilet paper and some stuffed animals for our daughter.”
As strange as it sounds, apparently toilet paper, laundry detergent, and other household goods are common housewarming gifts in Japan and other Asian countries. Yet it wasn’t the practical gifts from Hiroshi that won Theresa’s heart, it was the note he included with them.
“I can’t speak English,” the letter began. In neat block letters, Hiroshi did his best to communicate with his new neighbors:
“Thank you for the present. I’m fifty two years old. The divorce and I live alone. You can use it if you like. I’m stuffed and toilet paper. Do you have Navy? Yes, no. Please tell me your child’s name. Thank you for your friend operation.”
Redditors were quick to help out with interpreting Hiroshi’s English, noting that “Tomodachi” means “friend” and in 2011 the United States Navy launched “Operation Tomodachi,” or “friend operation,” to bring food, supplies, and fresh water to those affected by the tsunami. Even years later, Japanese people like Hiroshi are still grateful for this humanitarian aid effort!
During their time in Yokosuka, Theresa, Hiroshi, and four other elderly neighbors became good friends, enjoying morning chats and exchanging gifts of food regularly. “We would go to neighborhood festivals and have dinners together as well. I miss them all and think about them often. Hiroshi wrote this note himself with some help from a translate app. His mom dated an American Sailor when Hiroshi was a child so he knew a small amount of English. We had a wonderful friend operation,” she wrote.
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