At the farewell dinner for me and some other colleagues who were shortly to be leaving Tokyo, our boss suddenly took out a plastic bag and rustled around inside it for a bit, before proferring it to us. “Take one,” he said, without further explanation. I reached inside and extracted a piece of origami.
It was a frog made by his elementary school-aged son. “Kaeru,” our boss finally said, which means both “frog” and “return”. In other words, it was a pun-ish paper amulet wishing us all a safe trip home.
Given that I’d been doing a lot of giving and receiving of presents and omiage during the last week, it struck me as odd that a little piece of folded paper could mean a lot more to me than some of the more extravagant going-away presents I’d accepted.
Anyway, I kept the frog with me on my…
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