Nov 23, 2012 (Daily Press - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
My grandma used to be a matchmaker, helping about 50 couples get married.
But she's become old and times have changed so that most young people rely on themselves to find their partners. Arranged marriage has become a thing of the past in Japan. One of my grandma's biggest regrets was she couldn't make a match for me.
"Tomoya, when are you getting married Please marry a Japanese girl," she said every time I saw her.
Fortunately, I came across a modern matchmaker called Facebook.
Soon after my 30th birthday, I got married to my dream girl, Yuko, who was my high school classmate.
I liked her back then, but I was too shy to ask her out. We ended up going to the same college and talked occasionally, but we were each dating someone else. Upon finishing college, I left Japan to study at a graduate school in the United States, and Yuko began working in Tokyo.
It was Facebook that reconnected us about a year and a half ago. I found her on the social networking site and invited her to become my friend. When I posted earlier this year that I would be visiting Japan and would like to see my friends, she was one of the first to respond.
We went on a date twice during my 10-day trip there. I was surprised to find out, despite seven years of not seeing each other, how much we had in common. We talked for hours about our career and future dreams, as well as love and relationships. Our personal values reverberated like gospel music in a chapel.
We kept in touch through Facebook and Skype almost on a daily basis after I returned to the United States. I felt like a child receiving a Christmas gift every time I saw a message from her on my iPhone. We shared our experiences and thoughts just like any other couple.
I went back to Japan in September and proposed to her. She said yes.
Yuko said she wouldn't mind giving up her stable job and moving to the United States. Although a bit surprised by how quickly things happened, our laid-back and understanding parents approved of our marriage.
We live apart again as we wait for the U.S. government to issue her visa, though no one is clear how long that process will take.
But thanks to technology, we are constantly communicating. I wake up at 5:30 a.m. to video chat with her every morning, anxious to watch her smile and laugh at my stupid jokes. I sometimes walk out of my apartment to show her a beautiful desert sunrise.
I believe this period will help us in the long run.
We have a 17-hour time difference, and although we can see each other's faces, we have to rely mostly on verbal and written communication. But these obstacles make us work harder to understand each other and give us confidence we are intellectually connected.
Some pundits claim that mobile devices and social media are detrimental to human relationships.
I couldn't disagree more.
Yes, bosses can now call or text us 24/7, even when we are on vacation. Some of us stare down at a smartphone while dining with family or friends.
But as long as we use them wisely, new technology expands the possibility of human relationships beyond physical distance and monetary constraints.
I most likely would never have married Yuko had Mark Zuckerberg not founded Facebook. I can talk to her anytime, anywhere on my iPhone for free. I could rarely talk to my grandparents when I first lived here 20 years ago because international calls were too expensive.
We owe our marriage to technology.
But my grandma still did her job. When Yuko and I went to see her before our engagement, Grandma took our hands in the middle of a restaurant and said, "You two need to get married."
Even Zuckerberg is no match against Grandma.
"Through My Eyes" is a column by Daily Press Reporter Tomoya Shimura sharing his thoughts and experiences living in the High Desert. He may be reached at TShimura@VVDailyPress.com or facebook.com/ShimuraTomoya.
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