Usually, people email Mr. Sato to call him garbage, but this young woman from Singapore had something else to say.

You may be shocked to hear this, but some people find the escapades of our crack reporter Mr. Sato to be, simply put, strange. Personally, we don’t see what’s so unusual about making salt from your own sweat, blasting your private parts with cooling spray for some relief from the summer heat, or building a toilet out of cardboard and putting it at your work desk, but apparently some people find it weird.

As such, a large proportion of the emails Mr. Sato receives are less than complimentary. Aside from being called a weirdo, he’s received correspondence saying “I am physiologically unable to accept your antics,” “Your face is disgusting,” and ”You’re garbage.” So it really stood out when he opened up his work inbox to find an extremely cordial message from Leanne Yap, a native of Singapore who now resides in Tokyo. Her message, written in Japanese, translated as:

“Dear Mr. Sato,

I am sending you this email to make a request. I realize you must be extremely busy, but would it be possible for us to meet face-to-face?”

It took a few moments for Mr. Sato’s brain to process that he’d received an email that wasn’t a complaint. After he got over his shock, he continued reading message from Leanne, who is a student at Tokyo’s Waseda University School of International Liberal Studies.

“When I moved to Japan from Singapore in 2014, I couldn’t speak any Japanese. As a result, I was lonely and listless in Tokyo.

One day, a friend told me about SoraNews24, and I began reading the English site, learning about many interesting things and special places in Japan. I made it my goal to learn enough Japanese to read the Japanese site too.”

Amazed that he’d managed to elicit emotions of anything other than mild revulsion, Mr. Sato agreed to meet Leanne, and invited her to our Shinjuku headquarters (which isn’t all that terribly far from the Waseda campus).

As they chatted, Leanne explained that at Waseda, the School of International Liberal Studies starts its school year in September, while the rest of the university, like most Japanese educational institutions, begins in April. Because of that, first-year students at the School of International Liberal Studies miss out on a lot of the welcome parties, mixers, and extracurricular activity recruitment that takes place in April, which, combined with the language barrier for new arrivals in Japan, can make it tough to make friends. But Leanne kept her eyes on the prize and continued studying the language, and she’s now got plenty of Japanese friends, and is enjoying life in Japan to the fullest.

She still reads SoraNews24, too, and told us her three favorite recent articles were:
So long, Satomobile! We repaint our car with magic markers for Japan’s cheapest paint job
She was impressed with our frugality, but sad to see the Satomobile go.
Our Japanese staff holds an extreme potluck with the legendary “Dark Nabe”
Another mix of emotions, as she appreciated the uniqueness of the recipe, but was worried about our writers’ health after eating cheese 18 months past its expiration date.
Mr. Sato’s half-assed Halloween costume will get you full marks on the streets of Shibuya
A classic Sato mix of clever and crazy.

The fact that Mr. Sato is a part of all three stories isn’t a coincidence, either. “You’re like an idol to me,” she told our reporter, and after years of being told “You’re garbage,” the heartfelt compliment and comparison to youthful energy warmed the middle-aged cockles of his heart, and we’d like to thank not just Leanne, but each and every one of you who reads our site.

Photos ©SoraNews24
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