Earlier this month, we hosted my friend Satoru from Japan for his annual August vacation in Iowa.

Ben and Satoru in Kansas City - August 2004

My friend Satoru has come to visit every August for the past 7 years in a row. Each year in August, he uses some of his very rare vacation time to come and stay with us for a few days. He first started back in 2003 when I was a bachelor in a one-room apartment, and now he’s still coming to see us every year now that I’m a married man with a baby and a house.

It’s always a whirlwind of activity when Satoru is here.There’s always so much to do and so little time.

Here is what we did this year, start to finish:

Had dinner at home with friends, went out to breakfast at Cracker Barrel, went bowling, had a barbecue dinner at my parents’ house, went swimming, went bowling, played tennis, went on a long bike ride on the bike trails that lead to downtown, went canoeing with friends on the Raccoon River, and spent a lot of time at home playing with the baby.

No wonder I needed a three-hour nap the day he went home.

It’s been really good to be able to stay in touch with Satoru. I don’t know anyone else from Japan who’s made the 14-hour flight every year to come to Iowa for vacation – we need to get him some special award from the Governor, or something.

Every year, his visit gives us the opportunity for a nice “staycation.” We spend the week doing some of our favorite outdoor activities, seeing some fun places around town, and eating at our favorite restaurants.

I never enjoy our house more than when we share it with others.

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