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  • Maegan Prentice

The Small World of Social Media Connects Us in Surprising Ways

Updated: Aug 16, 2020

April 7, 2016 I was staying on Osakikamijima, an island with a total circumference of 42 km and a population just over 7,800 people.  It’s situated an hour away by ferry from the north-eastern portion of Hiroshima Prefecture in the Seto Inland Sea.  Almost everyone there was born there and they were also raising their children there.

View from my futon in Rui's house on Osakikamijima
The view of Osakikamijima from my futon at Rui's home

This is not a place you expect to meet someone you know, and frankly I didn't,  Instead of meeting someone I knew on the island, I met someone from Osakikamijima two years later on Facebook.

A facebook meeting

At 4:30 in the morning in July 2018 I was engaged in a conversation with a person on Facebook.  We had both placed comments about American influence in the world and this person mentioned that he was from France but living in Toyota-gun, Japan.

I checked the google map.  Toyota-gun is the name of the only actual town on Osakikamijima. I mentioned that I had stayed on the island two years earlier and sent a picture I had taken from my futon in my room looking out to the bay.

His response was astounding.   “Were you at Louis's?”

Louis (Rui)

In fact that is where I had stayed. 

​Louis’ story is interesting.  Her Japanese name is Rui but she decided to go by Louis since her name sounds like the French name Louis. 

Rui owned the B&B where I stayed on Osakikamijima
Rui owned the B&B where I stayed on Osakikamijima

Rui was not a typical Japanese woman..  She was a cop in Tokyo, trained in Russian for the department, and eventually became a motorcycle cop.  If my memory is correct, she was the first woman motorcycle cop in Tokyo.

When Louis decided to leave Tokyo she got a great deal on the pharmacist’s home in Osakikamijima, which was apparently in very bad condition at the time.  She rehabilitated it to serve as a bed and breakfast, and she started teaching ballet to the girls in town. She listed the rooms upstairs on AirBnB, which is how I found her.

I stayed in her home that had been built by a well-to-do pharmacist in the late 1800’s and I enjoyed the view of the bay from my futon in my room on the second floor.  The picture that I took there served as an introduction to someone I had occasionally interacted with on Facebook.

Rehabilitating a decrepit old tavern

Newly plastered wall in old tavern on Osakikamijima

As old tavern in the town there had been a tavern and had been allowed to crumble, like so many of the beautiful old buildings in Japan. Louis thought she could save that building too. 

While I was there for the week she would go almost every day to work on the other property and had other young people who would help, usually travelers that would be paid with food and a place to stay. ​​I observed three different workers who helping with the renovations.  One was a young man she had hired because he was very skilled in applying the old

Gur Van working on the plaster in the old tavern on Osakikamijima

style plaster that was used over old  bamboo and straw walls.  I visited that property and watched some of the work going on. The texture and color of the old walls, when they were finished, was so beautiful I had to take pictures and I also took a picture of the guy while he was doing the plaster work.

After the receiving the response from the person on Facebook, I went looking for that picture and messaged it to him on the chance that we may actually have met that day two years ago. A little later that morning I got another text. “Yep. That’s me.”

Since then we have both “friended” each other on Facebook and I’ve enjoyed seeing the unusual buildings he has designed and helped create at Gur Van and Earth Dreamers

Have you made any interesting, unexpected connections on social media?  I’m sure people would enjoy hearing your story in the comment section below so please let us know about them.

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