Beautiful, big-hearted geniuses are hard to find. Reiko is one of the most amazing people I've ever met. At 23, she was my "boss" when I first arrived in Japan (in 1997). But she rapidly became my friend. Speaking flawless English, and with a deep grasp of American culture, she was able to usher me into the mysteries of Japan as nobody else could. My first trip to Kamakura and its Great Buddha was with her; so was my first trip to the magnificent shrine at Nikko.
But more than that: we worked together daily, and played together (dinner and so on) several times a week--despite the fact that she was engaged to her now-husband (an American).
Our friendship has deepened with time. I saw her once in America, while she was studying for a Master's degree; and these days it's an e-mail here and a phone call there. (And of course we occasionally write letters of recommendation for each other!)
She has earned her place on that short list of people who count the most.
Technical notes: The original original was a slide I shot of Reiko in a pensive mood one morning at Tokyo's Meiji shrine. After one of our quarrels (we had more than a few) I made a Polaroid transfer of the shot on watercolor paper to give to her as a making-up present. (The ability to fight and survive it is the hallmark of a great friendship!) As is my habit, I took a quick shot of the transfer before I gave it to her.
Because of the large amounts of black space in the slide I made of the transfer, the scan blocked-up and pixelated (not visible in this thumbnail). Also, the color was decidedly off. So I opened the scan in Photoshop and increased the contrast until the blacks were uniform. Then I tweaked the color, using color balance first, then levels. I just wish you could see the quality of the original transfer.
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