As we returned to our apartment near Senzokuike, we stopped at a shop near the train station. We were going to buy some fish, cooked on the hibachi, and some fruit. As we entered the shop to make our purchase, we noticed there were several customers and the shop keeper huddled around a tiny Sony television perched up in the corner of the shop. Neil Armstrong had just jumped onto the moon and had planted an American flag.
Everyone was mesmerized at seeing a man on the moon. As people expressed their astonishment at the seeing the first man on the moon, I teased the owner by saying in my remedial Japanese, “It looks like the moon is now American.” He laughed at my joke. We both expressed how extraordinary the scene on the television had been.
I asked if he had ever been to America. He said that he had—once. I asked him where he had visited. “Hawaii,” he stated. I asked which island he had visited. He said that he didn’t land. He just flew over. It turned out that he had been a part of the Pearl Harbor attack. There was no animosity or ill feelings. He just stated what had happened. We became friends as he would see us nearly every day—the foreign missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
50 years later, I was in Japan on university business and thought I would take the train to Senzokuike to see if the shop I remembered as the place where I saw Neil Armstrong land on the moon was still there. As I came down the stairs of the train station, I was sad to see the shop was gone, replaced by two American fast-food restaurants. Nevertheless…I have fond feelings for the place where I saw the miracle of the man-on-the-moon.