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What I felt in Japan 日本で感じたこと

One thing I was disappointed in Japan was that I didn’t feel the vegetables and fruits I had tasted as good as before.  I used to be always looking forward to “eating” in Japan.  Vegetables and fruits were always so pleasing.  They were full of flavour, everything tasted stronger than what I eat in Canada.  Now, things have changed.  They all look beautiful, perfect shape, and big, but with less flavour and less taste. Am I the only one who feels that way?  Where are the tomatoes, peaches, and pears that I loved when I lived there 24 years ago?  When I came back to Vancouver, I really appreciated the fresh vegetables I picked from my backyard and the local organic vegetables and fruits I bought.  They didn’t look as pretty and perfect but tasted way better, I thought.  And, less expensive.  I don’t have to worry about my wallet as I enjoy.

However, there is one thing I am always impressed when I go to Japan.  That is the kindness of people.  People are so nice, sincerely kind, even in such a huge city like Tokyo, even to complete strangers.  This attitude is something fundamentally different from Canada.  Although there are occasionally few people in Japan who seem to be just reading a manual book, most people try very hard to do their best to help strangers.  And that tendency is  stronger as you go to countryside.  I just love this.

Tokyo is too big a city for me, but it might be nice to live in countryside of Japan, in some small town where there is abundant nature.




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Hope? 希望?

The last day of our short trip to Akashi, we visited my mother’s sister who is 95 years old.  She was lying on bed of a nursing home, not very together…in and out… But, she recognized me and said, “ah, Haruyo-chan, so nice to see you,” and cried.  She was very close to my mother and used to come to help us whenever needed.  I remember she came to take care of us when we were moving.  She was quiet, calm, and worked so hard with no complaints. I’ve heard from my late mother that although she had a sweetheart when she was 18, she was forced to give up the relationship and had to marry my uncle for some political reasons.  She could not really love her husband for her entirely life.  However, that was so normal those days.  Women were supposed to get married, raise children, take care of her family, sacrifice herself…..and that was so expected….

Her children all came to her room and we enjoyed our visits with each other.  Then, we all went to have lunch at a nearby restaurant.  What a fun time we had.  But eventually, came the time to say good-bye.  Behind our cousins waving hands and shouting bye-bye, I saw K quietly wiping her tears.  K is one of my cousin’s wife, about 70.  I think it was when I was about 20, she married my cousin. She lived with him and my aunt and uncle in the same house, worked as a school administrator all her life, and supported the family.  She is a calm person, not very talkative, but always so caring.  Of course, there is no blood relation to me, never saw each other more than just a few times, had not much conversation, there was no reason for her to be sad…  However, I saw her sorrow, loneliness, and overwhelming weight of life on her shoulders in her tears and choked my heart.  Somehow, that scene just stayed with me for a long long time.  Poor K…….

It’s kind of sad to get older.  Everything becomes heavier as the age progresses.  You lose your loved ones one by one, increasing your loneliness.  Your body starts to go wrong, taking away your confidence little by little.  How should we keep on holding our hope and continue to live happily?  I can see….it’s going to be my life project…a big one….




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Akashi 明石

The last weekend in Japan, I went to Akashi with my father, my sister and her husband.  Akashi is my father’s hometown where he was born and grown up.  I was born there, too.  We had visited Akashi several times every year when I was a kid, but not at all or hardly ever after my grandparents passed away.  Then, there was a big earthquake in Kobe area and the house in Akashi was half destroyed.  The house was rebuilt; I had some major life changes in Canada; my parents became older and frail; my mother passed away; …. and before you know, it was over 20 years since we were last there.  This time, it was my sister who came up with this idea, planned and organized the trip.  We got my father get ready, my sister and her husband drove, and I just sat in the car.  So many things happened in this trip and many things made me think… and I should slowly write them down little by little.  However, the main thing is that I felt such an immense gratitude about my extended family with whom we could instantly bond after so many years/decades of not seeing each other.  Hearing episodes from our childhood made me feel so grateful that I grew up being loved by so many people.  My 86 year old father looked so happy, became at least 10 years younger, seemed so much together, and told us about the time he came back home after the war.  His voice was shaking and I knew exactly how he felt.  Seeing my father being so happy made me so happy and I just couldn’t stop my tears.