Home Is Where There Are Friends

And that’s wherever we go if we’re willing to seek them.

Vincent Van Patten
7 min readAug 25


Farewell dinner. Guess which one’s Santana.

The past two weeks have been surreal. Last week was one of the most memorable weeks of my life, and the week prior I spent with my dad who was visiting me in Japan. We cruised around my home in Osaka, visited Kyoto and then spent several nights on the island of Miyakojima.

I was sad to say goodbye to my dad, but I still had a week off of work when I touched back down in Osaka, so I wasn’t totally overwhelmed with emotion. Not yet.

I thought I’d spend the week getting back on my routine and relaxing. In a sense I did, but it turned into more. So much more. I’ll start at the end.

Monday. I set out to buy my first chasen, the bamboo whisk used for brewing matcha, the ancient and bright green tea.

I walked out of the second story shop onto the bustling streets of Shinsaibashi, Osaka. The old and sprightly man who ran the store with his son bowed as I turned down the road.

“Goodbye, teacher!” he said, waving.

For the last thirty minutes, I’d been perusing his store which sells matcha related goods.

This father son duo seemed surprised that I was there, their shop showing scant signage or anything resembling a shopfront.

I did my best to converse in Japanese while sweating profusely in the small store, wiping my forehead with my trusted handkerchief.

A myriad of handcrafted chawan, cups for drinking matcha, lined the walls. So did small boxes, chasen, and a variety of miscellaneous goods associated with the art of tea.

The three of us talked about sports and writing and teaching, my answers consistently followed by a low, elongated ehhhhhh!? My age surprised them. Excited might be a better word.

You both look young and healthy, too, I told them earnestly.

I’d come here to conclude a sort of matcha odyssey embarked upon two weeks prior. Santana, one of my best friends who had been the sole reason for my interest in matcha, led an impromptu matcha ceremony in my tiny apartment.

Santana had just acquired his iridescent chawan and bamboo chasen, but as…



Vincent Van Patten

Exploring what lights my soul on fire ❤️‍🔥 Living in Japan. For my writing, podcast, photography and much more, check out vincentvanpatten.com