Let us take you back to 2008. The year I met Mr and Mrs Saito.

It wasn't quite my typical journey to work. My friend who provided me with a regular lift to work was on vacation, so it was unusual that I was taking the train in the morning. As I sat reading my Japanese grammar book (yes, thrilling reading, I know!), I was aware of a woman who sat down next to me. “Muzukashii desu ne” (it's difficult, isn't it?), she said beaming at me. Her husband sat opposite, happily clicking away at his camera. This, dear friends, is how I met my Japanese adopted parents.

It was only a 15 minute encounter in which we chatted about sightseeing in Heidelberg and the fact that I would be doing a language course in Japan the following Winter. But it was enough time for Mr and Mrs Saito to hand me their address in Kyoto.

What followed was a visit to Kyoto, an unexpected dinner comprising live fish...here are the little fellas I had to schnaffle down...

...and a six year exchange of letters that has seen me tearing my hair out as I try to remember any ounce of Japanese.

In 2015, it was time to catch up with Mr and Mrs Saito and their family again. From showing us around the Kyoto sights, taking us to dinner, drinking German wine that happened to come from Deidesheim (of all places!) at their local bar, and singing some Rolling Stones classics on the pub karaoke, their hospitality was overwhelming. 

And to think that it all started with a train journey to work. 

Let's hope it isn't another six years before we meet again.