Yuki is about to turn 20, a milestone that is celebrated in Japan with 'Seijin No Hi', or Coming of Age Day. The plan was actually to celebrate in Japan, more specifically in the geisha district of Kyoto, where Emi is from. But all that flying is too much of a hassle. So, they’ve come up with a different solution – a traditional Japanese celebration, but held in the country home of some friends. The house is wonderfully dichotomous: both chic and shabby. The driveway is stately, lined with canals, and the building borders on posh, but the water in the swimming pool has turned green. A heron stands watch on the edge. I think he hopes to catch some frogs.
From the outside, the home is European in style but once inside, it is as if you have stepped into an Asian country – the interior features hand-painted Japanese wallpaper, surprising carpets and huge Chinese vases. Every room offers wonderful views of the beautiful garden, with its mix of Asian trees and plants.
Emi is still busy in the kitchen downstairs. Together with Jack and Pippadour, she’s using the organic vegetables from the old greenhouse to make Yuki’s birthday buffet. I know that Emi will soon be setting the tables with her mother’s porcelain. This is part of the tradition. Every plate, every cup and every bowl tells part of their family story. She’ll let me know as soon as the buffet is ready and all the guests have arrived. Which means Yuki can come downstairs in her kimono. Emi will then hold a speech. I already know the first words that will come out of her mouth:
“Here comes the sun.”
After all, her life revolves around Yuki. And Emi has a wonderfully sunny view of life. Whatever happens, she always looks on the bright side.
The celebration will soon take place in the garden of the country home. Long tables have been set up, decorated with vases and candleholders in all shapes and sizes. The vases are filled with handpicked bouquets from the flower garden. Emi has hung up the same lanterns as in the restaurant.