In Japanese, Sahoko’s name meant “girl walking on a beach.” She had been born near the water and had spent her whole life swimming. She swam competitively since a little girl, and it earned her a college scholarship, and then the opportunity to attend a university in the US on scholarship.
Sahoko said that her family was directly decedent from Japan’s ancient class of samari. The word fear was not in her vocabulary.
So when her new best American friends invited her to go camping with them at the lake, she said sure. When they told her that boys would be there, she said, no problem. When they suggested a skinny dip, she said yes.
She’d grown up swimming at dawn in swimming pools of icy water. That was no problem. In Japan, especially in the countryside where her mother’s family was from, they bathed in traditional sentos, the public bathhouses, and the onsens, the natural hot springs.
For the American girls, swimming nude was a big deal. It was a double dog dare. They thought getting the Japanese exchange student to go skinny dipping was going to be the biggest most incredible memory for the otherwise conservative and studious student from Japan. For Sahoko, it wasn’t a big deal. In fact, if anything, it was like being home.