It's circa 1988, Saturday morning. I'm flipping through the channels as my 5-year-old little brother practices fake-punching an invisible intruder. My mom is fixing lunch. It's too hot to play outside and the thought of taking us to the beach, again, fills my mom with dread. So, she allows us to stay in our pajamas and watch TV all day (ah...the 80s).
As I flip through the channels, my little brother yells, "Stop! Go back, go back! There!" A scene comes on of Ralph Macchio being beat up by the Cobra Kai dojo kids. "Put him in a body bag!" yells one of the guys beating him up. I sat up, attention grabbed by the events that unfolded before me. We beg my mom to let us rent the sequel and watched that, too. I sat there, wishing that I could be the Japanese girl that Daniel-san falls for, who shares a romantic tea ceremony with him by the ocean. I wanted to be in the audience in the scene where everyone starts rolling the little drums in between their hands when it seems like Daniel is going to be beaten. I was enamored. To this day, I credit The Karate Kid Part 2 as the basis for my affinity for and curiosity of Japan and Japanese culture. That and sushi, of course.
Fast forward almost 30 years and I'm here, living out an almost life-long desire to live in Japan.