I know that people need to have a sense of belonging as a basic need. And nobody should be excluded. On the other hand, currently, many people have a tendency to excessively attach a sense of belonging. For example, many homemakers rush to buy storage goods like storage racks and storage boxes at 100 yen shops. They believe that all things have a sense of belonging, so they gently write the address on each of things. They feel guilty if something is not in a proper place.
But the sense of non-belonging is seen as freshness and a surprise to us. In traditional Japanese musical “Noh”, Noh actors believed that freshness and rareness are always in the place of non-belonging. So to survive “Noh”, I interpret that they cherished the sense of non-belonging, . Freshness, surprise and rareness are triggers to attract and recall fun. In other words, the sense of non-belonging continuously gives a life to “Noh”.
So I suggest that we appreciate the sense of non-belonging more.
When I was a child, I needed a camera to take photos, I needed a CD player to listen to music, I needed a ruler to know the length of something . Each of them exists for one purpose. So we needed to switch our consciousness to go to the next thing without missing a beat. It helped us to decide whether we liked something or not rather than whether we could make something or not.
Now I need only one device like an iPhone to take photos, listen to music and measure. I realized that the feeling that I could do many thiings at once with my hands deprived me of aliveness or life force. Because everything starts to be treated as data. So the world changed from a sphere to pixels. It is like eating chicken soup in separate parts, like carrots first and chicken broth second. In that way, I don’t savor chicken soup in a harmonized way. It is the same as only seeing broken up pixels instead of seeing one picture.
One day I determined to graduate from the pixelated world. For example, I will listen to music as music not data. I want to enjoy music as a whole not as disassembled parts. At least when I was a child, many musicians paid attention to not only to the music but also to the jacket or liner. So I could imagine its music from the liner notes and its work consistently had a clear intention. And feeling the musician’s intention sometimes helped me to go forward. But only streaming digitized music cannot make it.
So I bought a CD player and stopped copying music from a CD to iTunes. Each time I listen to music, I feel like bowing to that musician. They poured their passion into the music, so it is worth bowing to. This also helps me to take back dignity in my whole life. I received conveniences from data, but it is not my future, it is my past.
We sometimes say that we have more choices or options than before. As if we cannot feel safe and stable without thinking like that. We want to believe we are evolving through more choices.
But are we always upgrading who we are, how we are, and what we serve? When some software is automatically updated, we often feel discomfort and stress. Many people miss the old days. If we have truly evolved, we shouldn’t feel like that.
I have observed that we have more options or choices in lower quality of services, goods and work. If we try to find a higher quality version of them, we would know that they are less than before. In fact, the amount of unwanted garbage is increasing, but the quality of essential services, goods, and work is amazingly decreasing more than we think. For example, we are losing clean water, soil and air. In Japan, carpenters could build temples and shrines which have stood for over 1000 years. But now only a few carpenters have those skills.
We have wider choices or options but basically we are losing high quality things as well as a high quality consciousness. Do you think we have evolved?
This autumn I felt that I needed to listen to music somehow. I listened to many kinds of music except funk when I was in my twenties. So I started to listen to famous funk music and I loved its big heart. But I did not vibe with it so much.
On one of my trips to Tokyo, I remembered that I briefly listened to tango music . It made me want to listen to tango again. I was on a bullet train, and searched about tango. By chance I found a movie about Astor Piazzolla who made a great contribution to tango music. I had not listened to his music. But I thought that I should go see this movie in Shibuya. At that moment, I felt that it was worth checking out.
In conclusion, his music was fantastic. It totally fit what I wanted. My ears never tuned out during the film. And it was different from the tango music which I already knew. Astor Piazzolla was the person who made new tango music. His tango straddled some elements of jazz and classical music. Tango music is enthusiastic and earthy. His tango holds not only those elements but also mellifluousness, elegance and silkiness.
I felt that new door was opening. His tango is very inviting and guides me to explore this world more out of curiosity. This made my heart warm. And I am happy to complete this year seeing the world through this new door.
Usually I don’t need sweets. But this autumn I was constantly subjected to stress because of noisy neighbors with their thumping music. This high stress made me lose three kilos of weight. And my ear canals were infected and it felt like sea sickness because of continuous low-frequencies from the deep bass. So I needed a lot of sweets to survive this crazy situation. I ate only two ice creams this summer, but this stress made me eat a lot of ice cream, sweet jelly, cakes and gelato.
The deep bass from the neighbor’s music kept me up all night. For almost two months, I had low quality sleep. In short, I was always sleepy and got tired easily. Usually I prefer decaf. But I needed to have caffeine to survive.
One day I found a new small coffee shop in the corner of a small department store in a secluded area of Nara. This area has a terminal bus station for crossing mountains into rarely visited regions. However many rich people have lived in this area for many generations, so the quality of goods and services are not low. Tiredness and sleep deprivation pushed me to eat ice cream and drink coffee in this small shop which had only a few seats and no doors. And also I was attracted by the eyes of the barista which was full of a sense of pride and fun.
I followed that barista’s recommendation. And unexpectedly, I witnessed not only an earnest but also entertaining attitude towards the coffee. His presence was far from serious. It was more than making people relax. When he started to roast coffee beans, I felt that my personal safe space became bigger as if I had become a balloon. And I felt that I started to feel grounded.
After his gracious work to drip coffee, he served it to me and I had fun! I have drunk many good quality coffees and they were tasty. But that was all. This coffee made me experience joy. One shot of this coffee open new world to me. Suddenly I could know how to enjoy life. This “Eureka” moment moved my heart deeply. I always loved eating and drinking but I did not have a sense of enjoyment. Especially in Japanese we don’t have an expression of “enjoy your meal”. Maybe this had prevented me from knowing how to enjoy something. I can’t describe it so well, but now I clearly understand how to enjoying something and it was really a life-changing moment.
I face uncivilized behavior in the countryside now through explosive sounds from midnight to early morning. After they were warned by the property manager, they pretended to understand it for one or two days. But on the third day, they went back to who they were. They drown in big sounds and don’t care about their impact on or complaint from
I am blessed to witneess what is truly Japan from the dark side. It is deeper than I imagined. The property manager also wanted to avoid responsibility. So they always break their promises about what they will do. So there is always a chasm in our communication.
I guess that this expericnce will help me to go forward with my vision regardless of what is happening. I should say thank you in advance to this moment from my future.
This year I read an article about resignation syndrome. This happens mainly among children whose families hope to acquire asylum status. They sleep all day without eating, speaking and walking.
To tell you the truth, the same thing happens sometimes to children who are not refugees. I mean, you may already know such a child around you. For example, children who have trauma concerning big sounds start falling asleep when they feel tension before an altercation. Even if they start sleep, they feel numb and they are dissociated. Dissociation makes them appear to be good boys or good girls.
But many parents do not realize that, in fact, most parents are proud of their children when they appear to be good boys or good girls. If this rings true for you, your ego feels that truth is cruel. But in fact, only truth heals you.
Up until ten years ago, I did not need to prepare so much for a typhoon, because typhoons came from the same direction. Always Okinawa was hit first and Honshu was hit second. Before the typhoon, I just needed to bring the stuff on my balcony into my apartment, and I stayed there until the typhoon left. So preparations for the typhoon was quite simple and I needed only about 15 minutes or so.
But this year, it seems that the Earth has passed the tipping point of climate change. Typhoons have become quite strong. If you live in Japan, you may remember how the recent typhoon impacted Osaka. Many people were injured by broken windows and lost their balcony because of strong life-threatening winds. And preparing for strong winds is much more difficult than preparing for rain.
Now we must prepare for life-threatening winds. So the day before the typhoon was quite hectic. I used more than one hour to reinforcing my windows. I bought many things for that. So in conclusion, climate change wastes time and money. I know that many people are interested in time and money. Even if you aren’t interested in climate change, please think about it from the perspective of time and money.
These days, we have had many more typhoons, earthquakes and other disasters. Under such situations, we need to pay attention to experiencing trauma from mass media. For example, even if you don’t experience a tsunami, when you see shocking images and videos for a long time, you may experience trauma as if you had gone through it.
To decrease the possibility of having a traumatic experience, firstly you should choose text information like newspaper or Twitter not TV or Youtube. It will help you to get appropriate information without having extra emotional pain.
Secondly, you should go camping or stay in the mountains with few things in your daily life. If you already experienced it, it will be easier to decrease your stress. And you can widen your insights and you will be able to take back your senses, which is sometimes much more clever and helpful than experts. Under traumatic situations, being in the outdoors will help you feel grounded in a familiar situation. It helps your mind calm down.
Thirdly, you should start working with coaches and therapists as regularly as you brush your teeth every day. If so you will know your fragility before experiencing disaster, and start to care for it. If we are unaware of our fragility, it increases the possibility of having feeling traumat.
Lastly, please remember that you don’t need to give up freedom to have peace of mind. You can have both. Both values help decrease the possibility of experiencing traumat.
I have been annoyed with my skin disorder for over two weeks. I loved the feeling when I swim of how my shoulders could be free from the typical desk work position. I carefully chose a high-quality swimming pool, and at least it was much better than other pools which I had used. So it was bad news to me.
But there was a silver lining to my skin disorder. I had already known other ways to get cardiovascular exercise other than through swimming. One way was to order a custom mask which helps athletes simulate high altitude trainning. For some reason I had stopped ordering them over two years ago.
So the time had come. Finally I ordered it. I measured many parts of my face like from the top of my nose to the base of my nose. Now I am waiting for it. It takes about one month to create it. I hope it helps my exercise days with comfort.
Currently, we have had more disasters than before. It makes us feel down and ignore the few signs of hope. But we always have creativity inside of us.
Creativity is one of the good aspects of humans. So please feel your creativity and always try to use it. When we have nothing, we start to believe that we have truly nothing. But you have creativity which flips darkness into light. It is time to use our creativity.
I have been walking every two or three days. I have added swimming during the summer, but unfortunately the more I swim, the more my skin has been damaged beyond my daily skin care. So now I have stopped swimming. This made me feel a bit down.
But anyway the weather has allowed me to go walking again. So at least now I can pursue other ways to get physical strength. And I often wondered why people can’t find how to recover from physical fatigue. So,today I will share how I recover from tiredness after walking or swimming.
First, I prefer natural ways like eating bananas instead of looking to supplements. So after a workout, I usually have bananas and Japanese green tea which hydrate me according to Chinese medicine. It fits my constitution. After exercise and the following morning, I always eat much more than usual and need some protein like fish, tofu, pork or chicken. Chicken breast and pork, in particular, contain some ingredients which help us to recover from tiredness quickly. So I always keep them in my refregerator.
Second, after or before eating bananas, I take a foot bath for around 15 minutes. It makes me notice how my body is tired and have some pain. Even if it is a super hot day, after swimming, it works. But in this case, I use lukewarm water.
Third, I apply this body lotion which loosens my muscles: https://www.marienremedy.com/item/iris/stiffness.html . And I lie on the floor for a siesta for around 30 minutes.
At the end of the day after walking or swimming, I soak in the bathtub longer than usual. Sometimes I put montmorillonite powder which absorbs dirt. And after taking a bath, I use RHU aroma oil which strongly works for muscle pain: https://viearome.shop-pro.jp/?pid=34785347 . So this is the way I recover from exercise.
I hope this has been useful for you.
In Shiretoko, Hokkaido, I was most surprised by how brown bears’ weights change. Our image of brown bears is contrary to the facts. They become most skinny between July and August not after waking up from hibernation in the Spring. And when they become most fat is in October.
In some areas, like Shiretoko where salmon and whales live, brown bears can be super fat in the Fall. They increase their weight by half or double compared to their weight between July and August.
They rarely eat deer in Spring. Deer are the most serious issue for them because they both eat grass, which they compete for. Did you know that?
So for baby brown bears, Summer is the riskiest season for survival. This Summer I often heard news of bears showing up in residential areas. That is why they needed to eat for survival. Brown bears are so big, but they eat ants which are very small so that requires effort and time. On the other hand, humans who invaded into their habitat don’t require as much effort and time to eat than brown bears. And the bear dung has a very good smell as if we could put it into our tea. If we leave their dung alone, many plants sprout out of the seeds in the dung. Their dung is more clean than ours.
We put ourselves on top of the food chain, but in fact, we just destroy the Earth. It’s a weak state of existence, don’t you think?
In Japan, many companies are passionate about promoting diversity. But in fact, they don’t understand what diversity is. So they just pay lip service to diversity, like saying they want to increase the number of women executives.
For example, diversity includes being unmarried or married. It is one of the aspects of diversity. In Japan, people who ask if someone is unmarried or married, basically believe that being unmarried means being unhappy and being married means being happy. So in general, when people ask someone if they are unmarried or married, they imply that you are unhappy if you are single and you are hiding some problem which prevents you from marriage. Of course, some people ask simply out of curiosity. But amazingly, many people have this prejudice.
Unfortunately, it is crystal clear that there are few people who understand and live in diversity. And actually, we can see the same thing in other countries, not only in Japan. Before proclaiming your support for diversity, let’s make an effort to understand and live in diversity in your private life. So it is easier to bring it into your work.
In most of Japan, there has been a deadly heat wave. I stayed in Shiretoko, Hokkaido for five days in the middle of July. Then after that, I jumped into an environment over 35℃ by jumping up 20℃. Hokkaido had a cooler summer than usual. I used over six hand warmers in Shiretoko.
Just as the rainy season was over in Nabari where I live, I arrived at Shiretoko, so I did not expect that such an extremely high temperature would await me in Nabari. The temperature in Shiretoko ranges from 8℃ to 28℃ in July, so it was hard to predict the right range of temperature.
Shiretoko’s weather was like April or March weather in Tokyo. So I used all the hand warmers which I had brought just in case. And also I wore rain gear more than I had planned. The rain gear helped me to keep me warmer. Only one day in five days was comfortable. But it was the last day of Shiretoko, so I enjoyed 35℃ weather from around 18℃.
After experiencing winter or spring weather almost for a week, our body needs some time to tune itself to such a super hot summer weaather. So that first week back was awful for me. I could not sleep well and eat well. But this opportunity gave me some new ideas to create natural conditions artificially.
In temperatures over 35℃, we need to use the air conditioner to survive. But also if we use it for a long time at a low temperature, it causes air conditioner sickness. So, first, I used the dehumidification function of the air conditioner for a few hours while imagining a hot day in autumn. Second, I propped up a silver camping groundsheet against the window which blocks out the sun. It covers only half of the windows, but this amazingly works! Of course, I sprinkle water on my window and balcony as usual.
To create natural conditions artificially, we need to think about the principles of how my room becomes hot. Remembering my science classes as a student has helped me a lot. It has awakened myself about the Earth’s environmentt and where I had stopped thinking about science as well as other things. Anyway, it made me see the silver lining.
I did not expect to watch brown bears in Shiretoko. But unexpectedly, I saw four brown bears. And in short, it made me sad.
When I arrived at Shiretoko, I was shocked at how many brown bears lived close to humans because it meant that we would have to get rid of them. For example, there was a river near my hotel. And some people found footprints of brown bears on the riverbank. But some of the people who live in this area have less knowledge about brown bears than me. I was again shocked about that, too.
I heard that Shiretoko is known as a place where humans and brown bears coexist. So I expected that the locals were well-trained about the relationship between brown bears and humans. When I shared some knowledge about brown bears which I learned from professional guides with people in this area, they seemed to understand their sitiation.
To know about brown bears and how to co-existing with them, I think that the most powerful and easy way to understand how we should behave is to witness the face of guides who have truly come face to face with brown bears. When they remember the moment and share the story of what was going on, we can see twitches in their faces of the fears in their memories. This speaks to everything about how we can maintain dignity between us. We both need to feel fear and it maintains the dignity of each of us.
Also we need to see loveliness in them. But most impotant is having fear. Having fear creates healthy boundaries between us. And the second most important thing is that seeing loveliness helps us to know them in a healthy way without killing them violently.
During the summer, we often use air conditioners to cool us down. As you know, cool air is heavy. So our feet tend to be cool. And it causes a rush of blood to the head. Such a condition makes us lose our judgement.
If you take a foot bath in the evening, you will be in for a surprise. Because it will be easier to feel centered and at peace. And you will feel comfortable contrary to your expectation. Some of you will feel the swelling in your feet go away. Some of you will feel that you can see clearer than before.
Keeping your head cool and your feet warm is always needed for us to keep us safe. Please just try it when using an air conditioner in the summer.
You may repeatedly experience over 15 degrees of a temperature change in a short time when you go in and outdoors throughout the day. It is very hard for your nervous system. Some people feel like zombies, because they feel that their bodies are boneless and do not have an ounce of strength.
In such cases, your organs deteriorate. Some organs like the liver can recover by warming up with a hot water bottle. During the summer, even if we get in a bath, we set the hot water temperature to around 38 degrees which is not enough to warm our organs.
So I recommend that you put a hot water bottle on your stomach for 15 minutes. Some of you may feel that your organs move around like a cat. Some of you will feel pain in your guts because your guts start to move and cause an urge to defecate. And some of you may feel a different type of sweating than just being hot. The hot water bottle makes you sweat a little bit, but it loosens your body. So it will be easier to feel relaxed.
At last, I went to Niigata to vist my great-great-great grandparents’ graves. It is located in a small isolated village. So the temple ward welcomed me warmly as if I were one of her family members. At the same time, she was wary of me and interrogated me, which seemed like typical behavior for that area. It was interesting to me.
Niigata holds feminine energy compared to the neighboring Hokuriku area. It reminds me of my grandmother’s skin. Everyone in Niigata behaves with that feminine energy that i mentioned before. So I started to remember clearly, “Yes, this is Niigata”. This was the second time I went to Niigata, but Niigata was very familiar to me. Strangely, I knew what Niigata was.
Four generations back, there were many ancestores who were born and grew up in Niigata. In the Edo Era, Niigata was separated into many small fiefdoms, yet it produced many wise and knowledgeable people. I found one of my ancestor’s name and his photo in the history of Niigata. I feel that this gave me something good like a light in the darkness.
I will keep on reseaching about Niigata in the Edo Era and I will reach somewhere I never imagined.
We headed into the rainy season earlier than usual this year. And without exception, rainy days brought pests like slugs and cutworms. They start to show up at nine o’clock every day. At eight o’clock they still stay under the ground, and after ten o’clock they go back underground.
So I go out onto my balcony every nine o’clock at night to catch them. Also I use rice bran and coffee grinds. The rice bran helps to attract cutworms at one time. The coffee grinds have a repels both slugs and cutworms.
This yucky work makes me feel bad in humid weather. So I prepared some herb teas like pepper mint, lemongrass and melissa to refresh myself. Now nine o’clock at night also means having a refreshing herb tea. Even yucky things are a chance to refresh myself.
In my area, frogs have started to sing after the middle of March. The number of frogs will be increasing until around October. And they will stop singing in November. So for me, luckily, I can enjoy frogs’ voices for over half a year.
And from May or June to September or October, usually two or three frogs stay in my balcony every year. So I was looking forward to seeing this year’s frogs. And today they showed up! One of the reasons is that tomorrow is rainy weather.
Especially during the rainy season, many frogs jump on the road in my area. It is also one of the seasonal joy for me. Frogs help me to prepare for the rainy season and feel coolness in the summer.
Anyway, I feel it is the hand of the nature. It is up to you to use it as a kind hand or a bitter hand.
Last December, I came across an online bakery shop. I just wanted to eat delicious bread which is hard to get in my area, so I kept on mindlessly clicking around the web. But this was the first step to be lucky.
This bakery shop is dedicated to the art of baking bread. They are always researching about bread making including using obscure kinds of wheat. I first heard about spelt wheat in a letter from the bakery which was included in the shipment. I then learned about einkorn wheat, a primitive grain, which is rare. They made spelt wheat bread and einkorn bread. Both spelt wheat and einkorn wheat have different genomes than modern wheat which can be a source of allergies. Modern wheat was developed based on our greedy eating habits.
Anyway, I could tell that the two ancient kinds of wheat tasted differently than the usual modern wheat before knowing the facts given above. To me, modern wheat bread never seemed substantial. So instead, I ate sticky rice cake for breakfast. But both of the ancient wheat stick to my stomach the same as sticky rice or sticky rice cake. When I eat polished rice, sometimes I also felt the same thing, so I mix sticky rice and polished rice.
In short, ancient wheat makes satisfies us in small amounts. And its taste is substantial and vibrant, so I don’t need butter, jam, honey or other condiments. Tasting that bread feels abundant. Mindlessly clicking around the web created a domino effect of luck to settle my stomach.
Last December, I went to an eyeglass shop which I have used since my childhood. A shop clerk, Mr.X straightened my glasses, so I was impressed by his skills. He knows the products well. I decided to buy a new pair of frames. But after I complimented him, he suddenly started to speak about his career background in a boastful manner. In short, his sickening arrogance made me decide not to deal with him again.
This April, I went there again to replace my lenses which depends on a prescription from an ophthalmic clinic. I carefully look around for a shop clerk who did not look arrogant, boastful and pushy. I found one man who was quiet and centered. I walked towards him single-mindedly. His customer service was far away from an attitude of obtrusiveness. Though he suggested many plans and ideas they appropriate for my needs. I could inhale and exhale in front of this person, so eventually I decided to buy prescription sunglasses, too.
While waiting for my sunglasses, it happened. Mr.X found me, and offered to clean up and fix my old glasses. After he did it immediately, the previous clerk was still working on fixing my sunglasses. So Mr.X approached me and checked my prescription and put down the ophthalmic clinic. And when the previous clerk showed up, Mr.X darted away. I thought that he went beyond his authority and I felt uncomfortable.
So I asked the first clerk about him, because I thought that maybe Mr.X was his boss. In fact, Mr.X who was around 50 years old was his subordinate. The first clerk was the head of this shop. He kept his broad perspective and behaved in humility. He knows the products well but he never makes a display of his knowledge. He never take my time by speaking about things which I did not need. Mr.X had doggedly pushed some products and it helped to stay passionate about his work, but it make his perspective narrow and crack. While he was checking my prescription, I blatantly showed discomfort, but he could not realize it, because he only saw how he behaved and got intoxicated by his self image.
Anyway, it is crystal clear to say, the person who can be the head can have a broad perspective in any profession or any world.
I found something on my balcony wall in the mid-April. It was like chewing gum which someone spit out on the ground and after that someone stepped on it. I wondered about it, but I did nothing.
Today I saw a paper wasp circling around it as if it became a clock hand touching its head on it. At first, I thought that maybe it was sticky so a paper wasp was caught on it. I tried to help it to get away from it. But it showed no signs of leaving. Next, it seemed that a paper wasp started to bite it from many directions. So I thought that it wanted to take it away for some reason.
After one hour, I saw the same paper wasp come back on it and stay there again. I started to doubt my previous thoughts. And I had another idea like it was making its nest. It is summer weather in spring, so I wanted to stay inside. But if it were a nest, I needed to go out in my balcony with a piece of tissue paper and deal with it. It was not a flattened chewing gum anymore. It was a three-dimensional one. Yes, it was obviously a part of a nest. It was a kind of a hook which susupended its nest. I took it away with a piece of tissue paper quickly and washed away my balcony wall with water.
After a few minutes, the same paper wasp came back to where its past partial nest was. It seemed annoyed and searched for it persistently. Amazingly it remembered where it was precisely. It came back again and again and searched for it pertinaciously.
The nest was near mustard green flowers. Maybe it was one of the best places for the wasp. It is safe and very near their food. I knew that many paper wasps live near my house. So I often check under the eaves. But the place a paper wasp starts to make its nest was in the middle of a wall, 30cm from the balcony floor. It was totally in a blind spot.
Anyway I was lucky to witness how paper wasps make its nest.
Finally, I went to an organic farmer’s market which is only open on Tuesday mornings. For that, I bought a big perfect waterproof backpack in Tokyo. I did not want to miss a rare opportunity for any weather.
I have used a variety of organic shops since 2010. But i have had a sense of discomfort recently, because most shops carry many vegetables and fruit that were grown far away, which requires lots of time and money. Driving a car kills ten million insects until its owner junks it. Even if I focus on this fact, it is enough to make me uneasy.
So I went there on foot. On the way home, I got some strength exercise by carrying my big backpack full of vegetables. It cost zero yen and produced no gas exhaust. I saw many butterflies on the way there, but I didn’t kill any insects. Heaviness is an abundance of life. It has a very different meaning than lifting dumbbells.
When I arrived there, I was surprised at two things. The first surprise were the prices. It was more than half off than shopping in organic shops. For example, two bamboo shoots cost 150 yen. In a department store, it will cost around 1,500 yen. The second surprise was about the eggs. I could buy eggs one at a time. This was a big joy for me. I usually eat four eggs a month. But packaged eggs contains six eggs at minimum. I tried many ways to preserve eggs, but it always annoyed me somehow.
Now I can scale down that part of my life to fit me. I can live in harmony with nature more than before. No more packaged eggs. And no more valuing organic vegetables for their trendiness.
As long as I remember, I have lived as an outsider. It was not my want or hope. When I moved to Osaka at four years old, I was picked on a lot because of my accent. I could not speak the Kansai dialect.
After a few years, I came back near Tokyo. I was not ostracized there but I also was not accepted. I felt that I was like a plastic bag fluttering on a tree in strong wind. Then I moved to Tokyo where my great-grandfather moved to four generations ago. For my father, Tokyo is his hometown, because he lived with my great-grandfather for a long time. But I could not feel that Tokyo was my hometown.
I always felt restless living in Tokyo. I was envious of other children who lived in their ancestral lands. I was like a balloon without a string. For me, Tokyo has no space for excluding and accepting. I mainly grew up in Tokyo. But for me, something exists but nobody exists in Tokyo as if it were a virtual or imaginary city.
I moved to Kyoto, and I behaved as an outsider to protect myself. People in Kyoto distinguish very clearly and preceisely where people come from. At least, this city has exclusion. Since I have moved to Mie, I have felt that I was not part of a social system, because it is a city-centered idea. It looks like the concept of the outsider cannot exist in Mie. Maybe it is because of the local ninja culture. The absence of the idea of an outsider makes me feel at ease.
But when I went to Himi which are my family roots, finally I became an insider. In fact, I am an outsider in Himi, but I felt that I was an insider. This is the first time I have felt this way. And it gave me a lot more than I imagined. I felt like I belonged.
I finally visited my great-great-grandparents’ grave in Himi City, Toyama. It took almost six hours each way. But It was worth it. In fact it was very fulfilling and more fantastic than I imagined.
I met my great-grandfather’s older brother’s grandson, my great-grandfather’s older brother’s great-grandson, and his wife. They are in the main branch of my family and will be the last because their daughter get married. But my great-grandfather’s older brother’s grandson still has the look of my great-great-grandfather, so it made me feel that I had already met him. His eyes and his way of standing was very similar to my great-great-grandfather. My great-grandfather’s older brother’s grandson was already over eighty. But his posture was very beautiful and hale like fifty. It was very impressive.
They welcomed me as if we had already met, with an open and warm heart. They took me to a Japanese restaurant and I ate a full-course fish meal. We spent a long time having lunch like the Spanish or Italians do. And all the fishes were so sweet and melted in my mouth, because it was very fresh and mindfully cooked. Everything I did there was a deeply healing experience as if I became free of vague tension. I felt deep relief which was similar to the moments before dozing off.
I was also glad to know that my relatives lived in a clean way and in harmony with nature. They were humble and proud of where they grew up. I could see lands in which my ancestors had lived since the Edo era. It was a truly profound and palpable experience as if I could touch my roots. It made me relax. Also the fact that they had been good stewards to their land since the Edo era filled me with appreciation. I could see the beauty in their way of life through getting in touch with my roots.
If unwittingly, while you are swamped with self-pity, you will have some trouble with money. In other words, if you have some trouble with money, you may repeatedly find this voice persistently inside of you: “I am in misery, so I can be invisible.”
Some money trouble does not always mean having debt or being poor. For example, you may want to spend money for your child even when you don’t have enough money.
To save yourself from this pattern, do everything that you need to do from a loving place. Like letting water flow to a rice field, your life will be filled with love, so “I am in misery, so I can be invisible” will be turned into “I am in love, so I can be visible.” And the money issue will disappear.
Happiness in Japanese is “shiawase.” For a long time, “shiawase” has meant transforming yourself to respond to your situation. I love this old definition of “shiawase” because this old definition appreciates all happenings and all bonds between us. People whom you dislike or people who hurt you are also included in your appreciation. And these days I think that it is so true.
People who hurt me and people whom I dislike also influence me as much as the people who love me and the people whom I love. Those experiences helped me to learn something good, and it is a part of me.
So, I feel that now I am “shiawase.” And it is a good state for me.
I went to an exposition of Vincent Van Gogh in Kyoto. Actually I don’t know him so well. I don’t dislike “Sunflowers” which is one of most famous his work, but I felt it was clouded and murky.
While I saw his works in the National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto, I was attracted to his self-portrait which was drawn in his last days in Paris. In my eyes, that self-portrait was the most purified and gentle. According to captions in the museum, he did not have a good life at that time. Buf I felt that he unintentionally reached what he wanted to draw.
“Sunflowers” was drawn in Arles where he lived after Paris. Generally some works which were drawn in Arles receive high praise. But I felt that he already lost his balance, meaning he could not use suffering and pain to ennoble himself.
I saw his dignity and ennoblement in his last days in Paris. And also I believe that his works still ennoble someone’s soul beyond time.
I have been walking every three or two days. But hay fever season is coming soon. And I need more alternatives for midsummer days and strong rainy days.
So to search for more options, I decided to put more pressure on myself. So that I could clearly know my plan to reach the next level. During that week, I decided to swim for the first time in four years.
Near my house, there is a swimming pool which has produced many Olympic medalists. That pool is known for high quality water. I distanced myself from swimming pools because of the bad quality of water which made me nauseous. But swimming is one of the best ways of improving my physical strength. If I restart swimming, it would be very beneficial for me.
On Sunday afternoon, that swimming pool is opened for non-members. So I went to that swimｍing pool in high spirits. But unfortunately, it was closed. I had already worn my swimsuit under my clothes.
Out of need, I changed my plan. I started to walk for over 90 minuites wearing my swimsuit. It was so funny. What I learned was wearing a swimsuit was warmer than I felt in the water. I wore few pieces of clothing, including my swimsuit from my house, but it was enough for a 90 minute walk. And also I could walk at a different time than usual. So I could realize spring was here in the daytime. After 3 pm, it felt like winter again. But around noon, kittens were walking and it was totally spring.
I keep on searching for more options, and the most important thing was that unrealized things can also be a resource.
Last week, I saw a movie, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.” When I searched for movies near my house, I thought that I should check out this movie. So on the way to the theater I became a little bit nervous because shocking descriptions like “raped while dying” were used to describe the movie.
But my intituion was right! This movie is a kind of a black comedy reminiscent of Monty Python. It was very stylized. Using shocking topics, everything was well harmonized. Eccentricity was transformed into beauty through the whole story.
After I saw this movie, I thought that this was a heartwarming story different than the typical heartwarming story. Because this movie questioned and answered about forgiveness and moving forward in a very deep and real way. After that, amazingly we can reach hope,through hopelessness seeing this movie. And we can experience the miracle inside of us with a feeling of reality. We can go back home with hope.
In other words, this movie helps us to take back our dignity. Kant said, “Objects have values. Humans have dignity.” Our society treats us as objects. And even if superficially it is hopeless, we can flip hopelessness into hope like this movie shows, and it means that humans can take back humanity.
I have been walking for two hours every other day since last autumn. One day in December, I noticed that I was walking slower than before. And I realized that that is because it dropped below 5 degrees Celsius. My body automatically slowed down my walking pace to protect my body.
In January, the temperature never went above 0 degrees. For almost one week we had snow but it didn’t stick on the ground. Almost all ponds and gullies were solidly frozen. At around the same time, there were heavy snows in Tokyo. Because of the low temperature and high moisture levels, it was hard to dry my laundry.
Under 0 degrees, even if I walked over 30 minuites, my hands were still cold. And one of the problems was black ice. On the road, there was thin ice which was hard to see. But sometimes, we had rain, too. So if I wore rain boots, I didn’t need to be careful of puddles but it was more slippery on black ice. Maybe I should buy snow boots which are water repellent and non-slip.
After a week of freezing weather, the temperature rose above 5 degrees. Most of the ice melted and the river water got turbid. I could walk amazingly faster than before. After starting regular walking, my metabolism clearly improved and I could feel my muscles get bigger. Hay fever season will annoy me, but I am trying to overcome it because I want to keep on walking.
What is the essence of breakfast to you? If you have a nice cup of tea, do you feel that you are having a nice breakfast? Or if you have a soft-boiled egg, do you feel that you ate a great breakfast?
For me, the essence of breakfast is salad. Even if I have a great cup of tea or a delicious baguette, it has a small impact on me. So almost every morning, I spend my time preparing my salad. Currently, one of my top two favorite salads consists of celery, boiled lotus root, boiled chicken and mushroom. The key to making this salad is using truffle salt.The scent of truffles harmonizes everything. My other current favorite salad is made of red onions, boiled lotus root, boiled taro root, red pepper and tomato. The key is using a Japanese citrus called “kabosu” instead of vinegar.
After I realized that salad is breakfast to me, I started to prepare all my dishes more carefully than before. I started to realize many differences between each ingredient. For example, I noticed that I can eat raw red onions even if I cannot eat regular raw onions.
One day I put the rest of a salad into some miso soup. It was delicious. I incorporate my leftover salads in many of my dishes now. Preparing salads has been an inspirational moment in my day.
If you feel suffering from miscommunication despite your best efforts, just simply say the core of what you think and feel. And please just trust the power of your thought and feeling. Because they are energy.
That energy keeps on flying into the air like an arrow beyond time and space, and try to reach someone whom you wanted to communicate with. That energy ends up in some house, land or things like bags. For example, when you feel something warm and gentle from an antique table, maybe that table was used with a warm and gentle feeling. And when you visit some creepy place and you feel chilly, something traumatic may have happened in that place, like murder. As these examples show, our thoughts and feelings remain in something that is tangible. We sometimes sense our ancestors’ thoughts and feelings without knowing it. So sometimes your dream is not yours and it belongs to one of your ancestors. That is why we can find many similarities between us and our ancestors like when a great grandfather is a doctor and his son is a doctor and his grandson is also a doctor.
As I wrote, even if thoughts and feelings are nameless, we can catch it. And secret feelings and hidden thoughts also influence us. So if you really want to communicate with someone from love, try to purify your thoughts and feelings, and release them like an arrow. Receiving your arrow or not depends on that person whom you want to communicate with. So you cannot control it. After that, what you can do is just wait with trust.
Many people believe that I am strong so I don’t cry. But it is not true. If we are strong, we can hold our tears and heartbreaks. In many cases, tears symbolize that you are strong.
Many people try to benumb themselves as if they were never tired or could be influenced by others. Because they don’t know the difference between separating themselves from the world and being strong. If you are strong, you are never in denial. You never ignore or loosen your focus on what you see, where you are, what you can do, and what you cannot do. Even if we can do nothing, we can surrender to that situation and start something from nothing. If you are strong, you can always create something from nothing, something, and everything.
And diminishing yourself by obeying something or someone in a heteronomous way, you will be weaker. Let me illustrate this in a metaphorical way. Do you know that bodybuilders’ immunity weakens especially before a bodybuilding contest? They looks so strong, but they are susceptible to cold viruses and heal poorly from injury. They look strong but in fact they are weak. Because they reduce fat cells that send a message of, “Viruses came into our body,” to our brain. When we exclude something in a heteronomous way, we collapse ourselves. And it never leads us to “I am strong.”
On New Year’s Day, I had a different time than past New Year’s Days. My new year started with internet shopping. I did not prepare traditional New Year’s dishes except rice cake soup called “ozouni”. I did a lot of laundry as a part of every month’s house cleaning. And I saw a movie “Five Flights Up”. I thought that this movie symbolized my feeling on New Year’s Day.
In this movie, one old couple started to think about selling their apartment. There was no elevator in their apartment, and they felt that it got harder for them. In short, they recognized that they had been and they were in a beautiful and meaningful world. They knew how they built a good life in their apartment. They acknowledged where they were, what they built and how they did many things. It was a rich moment to know that they had made a fuss over nothing like other characters in the movie.
We sometimes make much ado about nothing as if we were drowning in a bathtub, even if nothing happens. And it is a good time to acknowledge where we are, what we have built and how we have done things. Life is still good as always.
We can trust our life. Because Life is good. So I decided that I will trust my life and be guided by my life without any control or intention. What I will do this year is just simply trusting in my life. Why don’t you join in trusting in your life as I will?
These days I walk every two or three days to gain physical strength. It is fun and easy for me. I love walking a lot, but each time I walk only 90 to 120 minutes to avoid injury, which I experienced last September.
This past September I realized that I needed to use specific aroma oils like wintergreen or lavandin for loosening my muscles, in addition to stretching after walking. After I walked over 3 hours, I felt that I wanted to walk more because of the adrenaline rush. So I need to use aroma oils like marjoram for calming down my nervous system.
After November, I started to walk for the sake of walking. In September, I sometimes stopped for shopping while on a walk. It gave me some fresh moments. But buying some squashes, some potatoes, some apples and many kinds of vegetables were too heavy to enjoying walking. It was a wake up call. So now I walk for the sake of walking. If I use this opportunity to buy some vegetables, I buy only light vegetables like spinach, mustard greens and celery.
Unexpectedly, my carefree walking habit increased my inner circulation. Nabari City had its first snow. But I use fewer blankets than before when I sleep. As if I were an elementary school student, I feel comfortably warm. Winter night yoga used to be hard for me because my body froze to my bones, but now after having night yoga for one hour, my body is still toasty warm.
I have had shoe counseling to know about my specific foot shape and which shoes match my feet. And these days I have given up finding shoes which really fit my foot.
But in September I got a wake up call when I felt pain on my right foot. That September, I started walking over two hours every two days. It was simply fun, so I went a little overboard. One day I walked over three hours, and felt pain in the sole of my right foot. And I need three weeks to recover from it.
Instead of finding the best shoes, I started to rely on sockliners. Amazingly, there are a variety of sockliners which satisfy many types of use and purposes: walking, running, dancing ballet, only for protecting heels, etc.
Now I love customizing my shoes with sockliners and it makes me feel free. I like Sorbo DSIS series which is called an artificial muscle.
When I was in my twenties, I didn’t like the works of Kenji Mizoguchi, a famous film director loved by film directors in Nouvelle Vague like Jean-Luc Godard. I only watched the first three minutes of one of his films and it felt cold and detached.
Just as I felt, his works are often described as coldly objective realism. And he always forcusd on marginalized women like prostitutes. When I was a university student, I needed some courage to watch his movies, and they never brought me joy. But now my capacity to watch them has increased.
Time has passed. This autumn, long rainy days pushed me to watch the works of Mizoguchi. I saw some of them. First I felt a purity and some kind of force which kept standing under suffering and heartbreak. And now I am drawn to them. It is not the same as wamth. But I already knew that sometimes we need somethiing different from heart-warming.
Time has passed. My capacity to watch suffering and heartbreak has become bigger than when I was in my twenties. I know we need something more than heart-warming to expand in my work and life. That is why his works touched my heart.
This summer I made Japanese plum syrup which helps us deal with hot and humid summers because of its sweet and sour taste. Afterwards, six Japanese plums were left over. I searched for the easiest way to use those green Japanese plums. We cannot eat them raw because they are poisonous. And the easiest way to cook them was putting them in a enamel pot which can withstand acid and pickle them with miso paste. After that we just need to wait for a few months.
I drank all of the Japanese plum syrup during summer time, but the time to eat the plum miso had come. They were a totally new taste for me. And for sour food lovers like me, it was absolutely delicious and widened the range of my cooking. This was like a gift from the past.
The beginning was just preserving them with a minimum effort. But it created small steps like making Japanese plum miso, And it took under a minute. But it brought a lot of joy and opened up a new world unintentionally and unexpectedly.
In our life, sometimes something is extra. But if we try to preserve it, it will be the start of something good.
I know that some people love to move very often like every three months. What I observed from them was that such people were bad at creating safe and cozy spaces. So they prefer to work at a cafe than work at home. They prefer to decorate in a stylish hotel style rather than a cozy at-home style. And some of them are afraid of feeling relaxed as if it means being a failure.
In the world of ants, their home is underground. The soil is contaminated by many bacteria and other germs. Each ant is equipped with antibacterial agents to keep their house safe and cozy. But some primitive ants are not equipped with such protections, so they need to move often to protect themselves.
I understand that humans and ants are totally different. Even so, we can learn a lot from ants since they have existed much longer than humans.
Halloween season is when we notice we only have two month left this year. So it is good to look back this year little by little. And this attitude supports us to fulfill this year by using our wisdom.
So, I looked back at blog posts this year and noted the top five which were loved by readers. Were any in the following list included among your favorites?
1.“In This Corner of the World”
2.“This is my first and last.” — Hiromi Uehara
3.Swallows and Frogs.
5.Can Lack of Imagination Stop You?
I hope that this post triggers you to feel fresh air in your life and the rest of this year cheers you up.
I know that people need their car especially in the countryside. But do you know how many insects your car kills until you junk it?
Amazingly, ten million! I couldn’t believe it.
In the countryside, having a convenience store is big news. It especially helps the elderly and the physically disabled. And do you know that a convenience store in the countryside is big news for insects?
After four or five years of having a new convenience store in the countryside, it becomes a gathering spot for bugs because they are attracted to the bright lights. They search for female bugs but they forget that and gather under the strong lights. Male bugs lose mating opportunities and they don’t create the next generation.
Having cars and convenience stores destroy nature which humans need. We are in one system much more than we realize.
I have been a late-night person most of my life. But these days, I sometimes wake up at 5 o’clock.
When I was in Kyoto, I lived in an east-facing apartment. I could see both the sunrise and the sunset from the same windows. At that time, watching the sunrise was a common event. I was often jerked awake by the cacophony of birds and insects that lived in the bamboo forest in front of my house. So sleeping in the morning was valuable.
But now I live in a west-facing apartment. And I enjoy the glow of many beautiful sunsets. Also the countryside has less light than the city like Kyoto. So especially during winter time, I hurry home before sunset. Because after sunset it is very dark around my house. And I started to miss the sunrise.
One day unintentionally I woke up at 5 o’clock which was a little before sunrise. From west-facing windows, it is ambiguously dark like the evening. But when I go out from my apartment and face the east, there is a beautiful sunrise glow. It is a totally different view from west-facing windows. And I clearly saw the different kind of beauty than the sunset. That was something that I needed to see.
That is why I sometimes wake up at 5 o’clock now. Such a little change makes a big difference in your life, too.
Toyama has more than 300 years history in the household medicine delivery business. It started when Toyama-han during the Edo Period was separated from Kaga-han. They used their business savvy to survive and this industry became an important industry of modern Toyama. The glass industry is another example of an enduring business which arose from the need for containers for the medicine.
Their medicine system was the same as using a credit card. And amazingly this worked in the Edo Period. They have strict traditions like not criticizing doctors, and not playing parlor games.
In Toyama, there is a museum of medicine peddlers as part of the Toyama Municipal Folkcraft Village. And there are a lot of tools which show their effort and process. I went there this September and it was amazing. I felt that the medicine peddlers’ passion and acheivements were huge. Realizing this made me cry.
It looks like one of my ancestors lived in Toyama. I don’t know their names but I felt them behind me. And I felt that I am strongly supported and encouraged by them. The culture of Toyama is known as sober and down-to-earth, but modern Toyama is also very sophisticated. We can experience both down-to-earth and sophisticated culture in Toyama. And I am happy to see it because sometimes we think they don’t go together.
When you feel something is incompatible, please visit Toyama to cheer you up.
I think that being categorized sometimes confuse us much more than in the past. When I go to a shoe shop, I am always annoyed by shoe categories.
I think that all shoes should be categorized by foot shape and size. If so, I just need to go to some specific foot shape corner which matches my foot in the footwear department. Then I just simply select my shoes by design or use. It will shorten my shopping time until I find my shoes. So I can go home very quickly.
But now all shoes are categorized by use, brand, men’s, women’s or children’s. I can remember some brand names which have a suitable shape and size for my foot. But sometimes a favorite shop closes. So again I feel astray looking for shoes.
Categories should be simple and help to find something which we are seeking. Don’t you think so?
In Australia, there are few accommodating environments for insects. So many insects gather in the same areas. They coexist in small areas. That is why we can find many more parasitic insects and insects that mimic than other areas on Earth.
We think that we are the highest on the food chain. But interestingly, parasitic insects don’t have fixed positions on the food chain. Without them, we can be the highest on the food chain. And parasites are the highest on fhe food chain, because they cannot live without their host.
I think that we can find something analogous in our human society. For example, magazines feature how to mimic celebrities at a lower cost. “Even if you use these cheap things, you will be seen as sophisticated and stylish like celebrities.” This is mimicry. And the “parasite single”, someone who is dependent on their parents well into adulthood, is a social issue in Japan.
Just like insects, we can say that we need more accommodating environments on Earth, so that we don’t hoard limited space and we can learn to co-exist.
Capable people often conceal the strong pain of being rejected behind their competency. Because most of them have needed to prove themselves not to have the feeling of being rejected by their parents or caretakers.
While your parents or caretakers are under high pressure, they can not attune themselves to children’s minds. So most children feel that they can not get support from their parents or caretakers. In other words, children feel that they are rejected by them. And it is absolutely strong pain which brings a sense of powerlessness. For children this threatens their will to live.
So to avoid feeling such pain, children start to think that if they have more abilities, they can sweep away the sense of their incompetence. So they begin to enhance their attitude by being able to do everything by themselves perfectly. And the belief which supports their attitude grows. They believe that they are strong enough to endure everything alone. If they recognize their vulnerabilities, they start to remember awful pain and lose the will to live. So they hold on to their attitude. They don’t ask for help to escape from such desperate feelings which are still real in themselves.
They have a tendency to demand strength and perfectionism when they feel a sense of helplessness. And this pattern slowly creates some kind of chronic condition in themselves. And if you are like them, what you need is to attune yourself to your mind like. “It was really strong pain. I know it was awful. And it belonged in the past. Now it is safe. It happened in the past. And I know it was a desperate moment. It was truly pain.”