April 2006, Connecticut Storytelling Center
It all started when my family and I moved to Connecticut in 1990 from Japan. My husband had been transferred to his New York office for a short 4 year project. While I was living in the US, I was lucky enough to meet many people through the storytelling which lead on to some of the beautiful friendships that I have today. My Connecticut storytelling friends whom I call MY CT FAMILY gave me a lot of fantastic memories that I would never forget.

On Saturday, April 25th, 1992, I was performing at Connecticut Storytelling Festival. It was an unforgettable experience for me. I was so excited but also so nervous before my appearance on stage that my heart was pounding so fastc. Kate McClelland who sat next to me, tried to comfort me by holding my hand. She whispered gI feel youc.Are you OK? h Then she stepped up on stage and told the translation of my story as I was going to tell in Japanese later.

Towards the end of Katefs introduction for me, she said, gMasako loves hugs. She said her most favorite American custom was the hug. Please give her an American hug.h

Yes, it was true. Although Japanese people donft do it, since I had started to live in the US, I had found that the American Hug was nice, warm, and a friendly custom. I loved Peg O Sullivanfs strong hug and Paw-Pawfs soft cheek was like MOCHIc..Anyway, as the audience laughed hearing Katefs introduction, the hall was surrounded by this warm atmosphere.

As Kate called my name, I stepped up on to the stage. I was so surprised that the audience all smiled at me! They welcomed a Japanese storytellercsuch a small Japanese woman. My nervous feeling faded away. I started to tell in a confident voice, gAn Old Man with Lumph, the story of Japanese long nosed goblin Tengu, a nimble old man and a clumsy old man.

Wearing a Japanese farmerfs old style working cloth, I sang, danced and told the story in Japanese. Whatfs more, to my surprise, the American audience responded as if they understood Japanese language very well although they didnft at all. How marvelous their reaction was! With miraculously good timing, they laughed, they nodded. I was encouraged by such a wonderful audience.

I believe I have been enriched and empowered as a storyteller by American audience and my CT FAMILY. I was honored, and was happy to perform on a stage of the Connecticut Storytelling Festival.

After the performance, you could easily imagine what I received from the lovely audience.

Lots of, lots of hugs!