In the small Japanese village where Nancy Sakauye’s grandmother was born and lived until the age of 10, she was known as Chiyo. To the celebrity clients who brought their high-end garb to her Toronto tailor shop, she was known as Mary. But to Nancy, she will always be grandma.
Ever since she was a child, Nancy and her grandmother had an incredibly close relationship.
Nancy remembers being a toddler and waiting for grandma to come home after work, for those brief pre-bedtime moments when she could sit on grandma’s lap and share a bowl of rice and a cup of green tea together. When Nancy was a Girl Guide, grandma would order 20 boxes of cookies so that her granddaughter would win the award for the most sold. When Nancy married in 1982, grandma made all four bridesmaids dresses. And when Nancy found out she was pregnant with twins, the first relative she told was grandma.
And although her grandparents immigrated from Japan and her own parents spent six-weeks traveling through the country, Nancy had never been there.
“I’ve heard about Japan all my life,” says Nancy, who is a second-generation Japanese Canadian. “My husband has been to Japan before, and he had a wonderful time. He’s been trying to get me there ever since, so for the last 14 years.”
Now Nancy is finally going on the trip she’s been waiting to take for her entire life. With her husband Darryl by her side, Canon sent Nancy to Japan to walk in her grandmother’s footprints.
Armed with the Canon EOS camera, Nancy traveled to the small town of Joanji, located just outside of Kyoto, where her grandmother was born and spent the first 10 years of her life climbing trees and eating strawberries from nearby fields. They walked the narrow, winding streets of Kyoto, passing women in kimonos and Buddhist monks, and they visited centuries-old temples with layers of towering pagodas.
Before she left on her trip, Nancy said, “I’m looking forward to everything. I’m looking forward to the food and Mount Fuji, but I’m most looking forward to connecting to my grandmother’s roots.”
When Nancy visited the ancient Hikone Castle, located just outside of Kyoto, she visualized her grandma as a young girl walking along those very same paths almost 100 years before. With the help of Canon, Nancy was able to capture the memories of her grandma that were still preserved in Japan.It was a walk down memory lane, but in her grandma’s shoes.