Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

Last week my uncle Hiro visited from Iwate to let me know that he was turning 70 and that I should start preparing to take over the family business. The family business is not really a business, but a family foundation that runs schools. The main school is currently a school for nurses.

When my parents divorced in the early 80's, I decided to change my name from my father's name "Izu" to my mother's family name, "Ito" because there was no one else to take over the family lineage in my generation on my mother's side of the family. The family has been in our house in Iwate for 800 years and 17 generations or so. I heard once that we can trace our family for about 27 generations. Our family was originally military strategists. My great grandfather was a geography teacher to the Emperor and after that our family has been focused primarily on education. When my grandfather was off to war, my great grandmother started one of the first high schools for girls in Iwate. My grandfather invested our family fortune in war bonds. My grandfather died before the end of the war and we were nearly bankrupt after the war. Our home was used as the HQ for the US occupation forces in the region. Much of our land was taken away and our family took what assets we had and poured them into building a foundation now called The Foundation for Global Education and Communication. We build a nurse school, a day care center and an English school. The government put a very formal looking sign in front of our house declaring the house "The former residence of the Ito family." I have to remember to tell them that we still live there...

My mother passed away and before my eldest uncle passed away, he declared that I was to take over the family lineage after my other uncle ran the family and passed it on to me. Running the family includes funding the foundation (very difficult when you don't have much money), taking care of the grave (17 generations. When I stare at the names etched in the gravestone, I realize I am merely a blip in the history of our family.) and taking care of the family home.

I'm not really ready to do this and this visit from my uncle was a sudden and frightening realization of my future fate...

PS The facts about the history are gleaned from memories of discussions with my grandmother and mother about our family. Therefore, I worry a bit about the accuracy. My uncle has hired a reporter to interview our great aunt who apparently knows more about our family than anyone else to try to get some of the facts cleared up...

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