Friday, January 21, 2011

Drawing お絵かき

My imaginary flower...
This one, I copied a pattern that was painted on my tea cup.
Lately, I've had opportunities to draw with my dance teacher's 6-year-old daughter who lives upstairs.  Because I've known her since she was 6 months old, and I've been seeing her everyday since I moved in downstairs a year and half ago, she is like my little sister or like a niece.

Occasionally, she comes down and says, "Let's draw some picture!"  If I happen to be busy, I just say, "Sure. You're welcome to do that here, but I have to finish this now, so go ahead, and I'll join you later."  Then, she takes out the paper, crayons, pastels, and a water color kit and start her artistic creative process.  It's cute to peek her working very hard on whatever she is drawing at that time while I cook or work on my computer.  I am often by myself at home, so it is nice to have a company like this time to time.  Also, she is a great listener and a speaker. You would not think you are conversing with a 6-year-old :)

So, just like that I was given this wonderful opportunity to draw.  Since I became a "grown-up," I hadn't really simply drawn, so it was refreshing and fun. I was grateful for that.

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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Sentimental Sunset センチメンタルなサンセット

Lines are beautiful.
Lights that make everything naked are beautiful.
When I see a "picture" like this, I have to grab a camera.
As if to burn this image on my heart's wall, I press the shutter.

I love the sunset time.
(Sunrise and sunset times are my favorite times of a day.)
The colors that this particular time creates reflect the feelings I experienced in the day and gently blend them all in.  Eventually, it will be all black - going to back to zero, nothingness, and in the darkness, a new life begins.

In the colors of sunset, I become like a little child who does not know what to do with a favorite toy.  I cannot help to take a deep breath and try to take it all in.  Each time I breathe in, different flavors of feelings come up.  My exhalation brings a closure to the day, and my next inhalation plants a new hope and wonder for tomorrow.

I cannot help to think of someone far away and ask the sun to shine on his heart when he wakes up.

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Sunday, January 16, 2011

Bag Ban ビニール買い物袋の廃止

Yay, Maui County did it!
On 1-11-2011, the plastic bag was banned at all the supermarkets.

When I first came to Maui (about 10 years ago), I saw a plastic bag flying in the air and got caught in a tall tree branch.  When I saw that, I felt sad somehow, and I decided to bring my own bag whenever I shop.  My own bag is much sturdier than those plastic bags and easier to carry.

Also, I learned from a book that sea turtles eat those plastic bags thinking that they are jelly fish, and of course they cannot digest the bags, and they remain in their stomachs which often lead them to death, and also, those bags can get stuck around the beak of turtles, and they cannot breath anymore and die. Therefore, I was always aware of those plastic bags that seemed to be produced more than necessary.  There were more and more people who started to bring their own bags, but the number of bags that get stuck on tree branches seemed to remain the same. So I was wondering when this new law would be really practiced, and the day had come!!! I am glad.

Here is a link to view Maui County's website about this new law.

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写真のサインにある「B.Y.O.」はBring Your Ownの略で、持参してくださいという意味です。

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Everyone is Somewhere Someone's Important Person みんなどこかの誰かの大切な人

A view from the bus which was heading to Kansai Intl. Airport from Takamatsu

When I leave Japan, I always try not to cry in front of my parents.
Today, for the first time, I tried to think why that is.
Here are my guesses:
1) I think it is because I don't want my parents to cry by seeing me crying. If I see my parents cry, it will be harder for me to leave Japan, and I feel bad for going so far away from them.
2) I think it is because I want my parents to know that I am happy and strong. I don't want them to worry about me.
I think both are correct.

So, about a week ago, as I wrote in the previous blog entry, my dad drove me to Takamatsu from Matsuyama. I was happy that my mom accompanied us, too. When we got to Takamatsu, we had Kagawa's famous Sanuki Udon as our lunch, and then we headed to the Takamatsu bus stop. I was already missing my parents, and I could feel a bit striking sensation deep in my nose which is a sign of tears welling up inside. I tried to keep them down from being visible on my eyes. I did a "good job" carrying out up-tempo conversations with them. I kept smiling and saying even some jokes. Then, the bus came, and I had to get on the bus. I hugged both of my parents which is not so common in Japan, but I wanted to do so, and I said, "Thank you for everything. Take care. I'll call you when I get on Maui." My parents were smiling back at me, and I sat down on my designated seat which happened to be a window seat. I could see them from my seat, and I saw my dad jokingly making a sad face, so I laughed, but I wanted to cry inside of my heart. I saw my mom's lips moving to say, "I love you" in English. I said back to her, "I love you, too." Then the bus started to move. They waved at me until I could not see them. I took one deep breath and sat deeply in my seat. The bus turned around the next corner, and I saw them standing there (they guessed where the bus was heading, and they took a short-cut and ran there to give me the final wave).  I waved at them, too. When I was younger, I used to feel embarrassed about my parents' openness, but I naturally stopped feeling that way after I turned 20. I don't care what other people think about us. What more important is that I honestly show my love to people I love no matter where we are as long as we are not in people's way. When I could not see them anymore, and I knew that it was not a distance that they could run, I let myself drop one tear (maybe two) on to my cheeks. I love them so much, and they love me so much. The tears were not only due to missing them, but due to their love filling me up and overflowing as tears out of my eyes. I have truly wonderful parents.

At the next bus stop, more people got on the bus. There were many people who were sending off their loved ones. The bus slowly and quietly started to move carrying someone's loved ones. Maybe those people were not showing their care for one another in obvious ways (like hugging or kissing), but I can easily imagine and could see from their small gestures how much they care about each other. A young boy (maybe about my younger brother's age) sat a couple of seats down from me and started to listen to music with his headphones. He seemed to have a mother who was waving at him at the bus stop. There was a young lady who was maybe dropped off by her sister or close friend. Everyone was sent off by someone who really care about them.

Every single person is somewhere someone's important person.

This thought struck me hard and filled me up with warmth. Right now, somewhere in this world, someone is caring about a person who is sitting next to me. If so, everyone is someone's precious treasure and then I naturally want to take a good care of them. I want to be a "big sister" to the boy and look after him for his mother. And I want to be a friend to the young lady for her friend who cannot come with her. I want to love every person I meet in my life because there is someone who is caring about this person right now somewhere in this world - because the person in front me is someone's treasure.

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A view from the bus which was heading to Kansai Intl. Airport from Takamatsu

1) 私が泣いているのを見て、両親に泣かれたくない。彼らが泣くところを見ると、どうしても日本を発つ心が揺らぐし、遠くへ行くことを申し訳なく思うから(いや、泣かれなくてももう既に申し訳なく思ってるんだけど。)
2) 私はハッピーでしっかりやれるというところを見せたい。泣くことで変な心配をさせたくない。

前のブログでも書きましたように、丁度一週間ほど前、日本を発つにあたり、関空行きの高速バスに乗るため、父に松山から高松まで車で連れていってもらいました。嬉しいことに母も一緒に来てくれました。高松に着いてから、有名な讃岐うどんをお昼ご飯とし、バス停のある高松駅に向いました。駐車場に車をとめ、バス停へ荷物を運んでいるときには、両親と別れることをさみしく思う気持ちが強く出てきていました。鼻の奥がツーンと痛くもなっていました。これは涙が溢れてくるときの前ぶれです。目がうるうるしないようにがんばりました。何とかアップテンポに会話を進め、冗談も時折り混ぜながら、バスが来るまで笑顔で過ごすことができました。そしていよいよバスが来ました。両親をそれぞれにぎゅーし、「色々とお世話になりました。体には気をつけてね。マウイに着いたら電話するから。」と言ってバスに乗り込みました。指定された席は丁度窓際でした。見送ってくれている両親が見えました。父は冗談で泣くふりをしました。私は笑いましたが、心の中では泣きたい気持ちでいっぱいでした。母は「アイ ラブ ユー」と英語で言っているのが、唇の動きから読み取れました。私も「アイ ラブ ユー」と返しました。そしてバスが動きだしました。両親はいつもするように、バスが見えなくなるまで手を振ってくれていました。もう見えなくなってから、深呼吸をして、席に深く座りました。バスは次の角を曲がりました。すると、そこに立っているのは両親でした。(バスの動きを読んで、バス停からそこの角まで早道をして走ってきたみたいでした。)手を振ってくれている両親に、手を振り返しました。もっと若い頃は、こんなオープンな両親を恥ずかしく思うこともありました。でも20歳を過ぎてからは、自然と気にならなくなりました。アメリカ文化の影響もあるかと思いますが、もう人がどう思うかは気にならなくなったのです。それよりも大切なのは、愛している人たちにちゃんと愛しているということを伝えられることだと思ったからです。両親がついに見えなくなり、しばらくバスが進んでから、「ここまでは走って来られまい」と思い、そこで初めて一滴(二滴だったかな)の涙を頬に落とすことを、自分に許したのでした。私は両親を心から愛しています。両親は私のことを心から愛しています。涙の理由は、単純に両親が恋しいことだけではなく、私が生まれたときから注がれてきた彼らからの愛が、私の中に収まりきれずに涙として溢れてきたのだと思います。このような素晴らしい両親を心から有難く思います。




Thursday, January 6, 2011

Loving Traffic Jam 愛おしい交通渋滞

For having lived long outside of Japan, I totally forgot that the "U-turn rush" can peak on January 3rd in Japan. This U-turn rush is a traffic jam created due to people going back to larger cities (where they work) after visiting their hometowns over the New Year's Day. Because I was so busy with wrapping up the year at school and getting ready to leave for Japan in December (before I left for Japan), I only bought a one-way highway bus from the Kansai International Airport (in Osaka) to Matsuyama, Ehime where my parents live. I assumed that I could purchase a one-way air ticket from Matsuyama to Kansai Airport later. This is what I had done every time I went back to Japan in the past, and I had not encountered any problem before. Yet, it was a refreshing experience for me this time. I experienced how intense January 3rd can be. To get to the point, on December 25th, every single seat of every single flight from Matsuyama to Osaka was booked. No bus was available either. At that point, I felt sort of panicky. "How am I going to get to Osaka!?!?"

Fortunately, an idea came to my mind right away, which was to take a airport limousine bus from Takamatsu-city to Kansai International Airport. It takes about 2 hours from Matsuyama to Takamatsu by a car. I asked my dad if he could drive me there, and he willingly agreed. Phew! From now on, I should think about how to get back to Kansai Airport before I leave for Japan. It was a good lesson.

The photo above is a view from the airport limousine bus I took from Takamatsu. As you can see, some sections of the highway were crowded like this. The bus arrived at Kanasai Airport 40 minutes late which is unusual for a Japanese transportations which are well known for solid punctuality. Luckily, I had a plenty of time until my flight, so it was not a problem.

What I actually felt when I saw this traffic jam was something that warmed my heart up. It was not frustration or worrisome. The fact that this many people thought of someone enough to drive all the way to spend the New Year's Day (even though it was especially a short break this year) even with the risk of getting into a traffic jam like this made my heart warm. With this thought, the red lights of the cars were something to adore.

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Sunday, January 2, 2011

Photos from This Japan Visit 今回の日本滞在中に撮った写真たち

I was visiting Japan over the holiday season.
It was so nice to reconnect with dear friends and families in Matsuyama and Kochi (and Kyoto). I am grateful to have them in my life. It makes me cry realizing how much I am cared and loved. Thank you. Thank you.


Please click the slideshow below to make these photos larger.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!! 明けましておめでとうございます

I sincerely pray your new year will be filled with



(Photo by my dad)

(I found this "peace mark" at a beach in Japan.)
Peace, and



Thank you for being who you are.