Furniture Like a Part of My Body

I have been searching for ergonomic furniture for years. I tried to buy reproductions of designer furniture and it did not fit me. I also went to many shops, furniture import agents and museums to check the feeling of the furniture. After my efforts for many years to find furniture which are ergonomic, I became tired of looking.

But I already gave some of those pieces of furniture before moving to Nabari from Kyoto. So I needed to keep searching for them. I bestirred myself and went the Conran Shop in Kyoto.

The Conran Shop is on the fourth floor. I got on an escalator, and when I changed escalators on the second floor, I accidentally saw a Margaret Howell shop. It was not the first time to see a Margaret Howell shop. In my 20s, I sometimes went to the Margaret Howell shop in Shibuya, Tokyo. I remember a soothing atmosphere in the cafe of the store. But I never thought that the furniture in their shop and cafe were for sale. And I also saw different types of furniture that I had never seen before there.

I was drawn to them like a magnet. It was like a wall had suddenly changed to a door. A shop clerk came to me and explained to me about “Ercol Reissue” which is a major and established shop in the U.K. He explained that works of “Ercol Reissue” had been used in elementary schools in the U.K. And that history pushed Margaret Howell to reproduce some of the “Ercol Reissue” furniture.

A shop clerk described the products of “Ercol Reissue” and the background of Margaret Howell from the heart. He spoke a lot with shining eyes and showed many photo books about furniture. That helped me reignite curiosity into the furniture world. I felt that he invited me into a wonderful world. This experience was like drinking pure mountain water when I was dying of thirst.

A table and chair of “Ercol Reissue” fit me as if they were a part of my body. And I thought that he was a guide. But they were beyond my budget. So I asked them in my heart, “Do you want to come to my home?”. The table and chair answered that, “We may as well come and help you to upgrade the quality of your life.” I decided to buy them which was the most expensive material purchase in my life.

He told me that Margaret Howell came to Kyoto last year and she loved many beautiful Japanese products. That was also interesting to me. Finally I could bring an end to my wandering furniture journey.

True Life Story

I just started to read a true story which is written by a sociologist about his father. His father returned home from detention in a Siberian labor camp just like my granduncle. Also, I love this sociologist’s writing style which is always very clear and neutral.

So far I finished only twenty four pages. I had many moments as if a fog had cleared up. When I checked my family registry, I had some indescribable questions and felt something was missing to understand my family tree. I felt that I needed more knowledge and noticed a lot of my blind spots.

This book is about one person, and written by a rational sociologist. So this book helped me to grow out of some confusion because of reasons which I already mentioned. I think that people who lived before World War II are much more different than people who were born after the war, regarding their mindset and behavior, than we imagine now.

For example, before World War II, even in a village near the sea, people did not eat fish. Because transportation of the fish by horse or donkey cost lot, they needed to tack on a fish transport fee . Life in the village was much poorer than life in cities. So for people in villages those fish were too expensive to buy. Lack of fish created a life without having fish, even if villagers could go to the ocean easily. This was one of my blind spots.

Another example of my blindspot concerned city life after World War II. Every four or five days, people changed their underwear. During this period of rapid economic growth, most people could buy a washing machine, so people change their underwear every day. I think one Japanese stereotype is that of a clean-loving people. But it is a very recent one. I know most people did not have a bathtub in their house before the rapid economic growth, but I assumed that they changed their underwear every day. This was also one of my blind spots.

When I see my family registry or famity tree without having enough knowledge about their backgrounds, I could not understand some of them. I was stumped. But now I feel that this book will help me to understand my ancestors.

【開催概要】 10月10日(月・祝) 東京WS「絶望する。希望する」






– 日 時: 10月10日(月・祝) 13:30~17:45
– 場 所: 東京・神楽坂 ※ 詳細は、お申し込みの方にお知らせ

– 対 象: 以下が、一つでも当てはまる方です。

□ こわくて絶望できない
□ 自分の器を広げることが、楽しい
□ 人生の質を上げることが、面白い
□ レジリエンスを高めることは、うれしい
□ それでも、人と深くつながれる瞬間を待っている
□ 最後まで投げ出さず、やりきる自分に、憧れる
□ 日々、無から有をうむ生き方をしたい
□ 消えた情熱や好奇心に、再点火できる自信がほしい
□ 人生の目的は、真実を生きることだ
□ 向き合うべきを正しく選ぶ勇気を、呼び覚ましたい
□ 地球と子孫にとって、正しい行動をしたい
□ 緊張に自分を閉じ込めず生きたいと、望んでいる
□ 一人きりでも、何度でも立ち上がれる自分になりたい

– 参加費: 25,000円 
– 定 員: 6名     ※ 先着順です

– 参加受付終了日:  10月5日(水)夜21:00

~ キャンセレーションポリシー ~


What is Winning/Losing?

This August, my older nephew asked me why heroes and heroines were always perfect. He said that he wanted to see some heroes and heroines who repeatedly fail and and then succeed. My nephew feels a lot of pressure to succeed or to be perfect. He wanted to live up to his parents’ expectations. He is very competitive even with games like bingo.

So I have started to think about what it meant to win and lose. When I have this kind of question inside of me, I am sometimes helped by Okinawan culture which holds a lot of wisdom. So I have studied many aspects of Okinawa.

Today that moment came. I watched “eisa” which is a traditional Okinawan folk dance that marks the Bon festibal to welcome ancestors’ spirits. Basically each region has its own dance team. When they meet, they do a dance battle. Each team has its own dance movements and drum rhythms. In those dance battles, the winner wins by keeping their pace and rhythm. The team who loses their rhythm and goes out of tune loses.

I thought that this points to the essence of winning and losing. And the same thoughts were not only in Okinawa but also in old Japan, too. People lived as a part of nature. People aligned with the rhythms of nature, and that is why people stay in their home when it rains. I feel that ancient people understood what winning/losing was.

Now we go out when it rains as if we can beat nature. We go out at night as if we can beat nature. But we are the loser. Our action makes Earth sick, and we cannot live without Earth. But we behave and try to beat nature. We are so stupidly the loser.

Unexpected Things in the Countryside.

When I lived in Kyoto, my apartment was between a bamboo forest and a big private garden on a hilly. Many birds and bees hit my windows and fall down on my balcony. Cicadas, bees, never-before-seen beetles, never-before-seen moths, shield bugs and geckos came into my house from both my balcony and front door. I cound meet many new faces. To keep them from coming in, I needed to shut my door and windows quickly.

I was also bitten a lot by mosquitos. When I went out on my balcony for 1 minute with natural mosquito repellent, I was always at least bitten by four mosquitos. And in Kyoto, many people who had lived for generations create a beautiful garden full of flowers. That helps to maintain the ecosystem, so I always need to pay attention to big bees and wasps. So I took some time to prepare mentally for insects before moving to the countryside.

And after I moved to the countryside, I was actually bitten by mosquitos only once. I see less variety of bees than in Kyoto. I don’t see wasps, gecko, never-before-seen beetles. But I saw a stag beetle, which I imagine could win in a sumo match, was walking in the middle of the street late at night.

Many people think that more insects live in the countryside than in cities. But it is not true. Frogs eat mosquito larvae, bees live in their territory not in human living areas. We can have more appropriate distance than in cities. That is why I don’t need to escape from many insects with breathless speed.

I often experience that reality is better than what we imagine or assume. This is one of such cases.

Unexpected Sound in the Countryside

What kind or sounds do you expect in the countryside?

After I moved to Nabari which is in the countryside, I heard unexpected sounds more than twice a week in July. They sounded metallic. Each time, it continued for 1 hour. I opened my windows and saw what it was and where it came from.

It was the sound of lawnmowers in empty lots. My apartment is surrounded by rice fields and crofts. Some older farmers have given up farming and their lands lie fallow. So they need to clear their lands and keep the grass cut.

In the last week in August, I heard another new sound from outside. It was harvest season when rice stalks bow over because they were heavy with grain. In Japan, it is the symbol of being humble. From the air, it is like unruly hair on a rainy day as this picture shows, because of heavy rice stalks. In July, rice fields were like a beautiful green carpet. But now rice stalks don’t bend in the same direction.


That new sound jumped into my ears as if someone was snapping straw in the next room. And that was the sound of harvesting rice. I will have more opportunities to hear that in September.

And more than four times, I heard the sound of fireworks and enjoyed them through my windows. That was also an unexpected sound.