Early Morning Walk

Recently I have been familiar with the period between twilight to sunrise. This time is a sweet spot for me. Because this time always has the sweetest and cleanest air in the day. Before people start to move, birds,insects and wild animals shift from sleeping to waking or from waking to sleeping. So I can hear birds singing which is very different from other times. Their songs are similar to their evening songs. But their movements are quicker and more relaxed. When I saw a little fox, I was filled with joy. It was so lovely and had dignity, It made me feel settled.

The direction of the sun is different than in the evening. And this makes the world beautiful. I fell in love with it again as if I did not see any beauty in it before. The beauty in the world which I see also reflects in me. It is a delicious meal for my heart.

Also this sweet time makes me think that night has its back like like parents do for children. So I can deeply appreciate nighttime and darkness.

It is the same as our life. Even if your life looks miserable to you, your present life includes some beautiful and sweet moments like I described. And you are practicing how you find parts of beauty without denying the dark sides in your life.

In my neighborhood, I am sometimes allowed to cherish sunshine or clean air only during this sweet time. To glimpse the hidden beauty in this area, I started to get up early. These many practices made me able to find beauty in the world and in people. I even cherish darkness in the world. Because I deeply understand that it is the “parent” of beauty and sweetness through my experiences.

Having true appreciation towards darkness makes me feel like royalty. Usually appreciation for anything makes us move forward. But in particular, appreciation for darkness has given me a strong power to stay in the here and now. It also supports my fragility, so I can see everything in me as a resource. Finally I deeply appreciate the challenges for a city girl in this rural town.

Got New Wings

COVID-19 pushed us to create many new oppotunities. One of them is”temporary cinema” which supports art cinemas which we call “mini-theaters” in Japan. It is an online service but it gave me a similar experience as enjoying cinemas in a real movie theater rather than seeing streaming services in my computer.

In many cases great films released in mini theaters are not sold as DVD or on a streaming service. So after I moved to the countryside, I missed many great movies. But COVID-19 gave me back this kind of sparkling joy.

And I will describe “Talentime” by Yasmin Ahmad which is a movie I enjoyed: https://www.temporary-cinema.jp/talentime/ . This was the first time to watch a Malaysian movie. Coincidentally, one of her roots is in Japan. This film describes how people live in a multiracial nation by using English, Chinese, Malaysian and Tamil. It includes religious conflict.

On the whole, I experienced tenderness, integrity and beautiful harmony by watching this movie. Before I watched this movie, I was feeling shock and anger from something in my life. My heart felt pierced by sea urchin spines. But after I watched it, my heart become peaceful and harmonious like a still lake surface. Now I am very interested in her other works. And I am glad to feel some connections between us. I feel like I got new wings now.

An Advent Calender for COVID-19

I assume that many of you feel stress and exausted by some restrictions on outings and many changes in your circumstances. It looks like we need at least two years to get back to normal. If I can know the future, I want to present to you an advent calender for COVID-19. So many of you can feel joy and peace by opening its small windows and eating some small sweets in them. Some countries like Taiwan or New Zealand helped to shorten the duration of an advent calender for COVID-19.

And I have a better idea for you. We know that “tommorow will come” is always just an illusion. I think that some of you already experienc it deeply. Based on that, living in this moment is real and sure. Sometimes we see an illusion which is called the future, and we put many complaints, anxieties and worries in it. If you are doing it now, please listen to birds singing, smell the fresh air coming into your apartment, and see the sky which has lots of changing clouds. You will start to feel gratitude toward your space, this moment, what you have and what you will be able to create.

If you stay in this moment, you can put gratitude behind you and will be lead by your courage. And you don’t need an advent calender for COVID-19 any more. Because you will start to feel that you yourself are a treasure and you are doing so well. Those feelings will make you feel that you are OK whatever your tommorow is.

The Power of Words

Words are more powerful than you think. So especially under this catastrophic coronavirus pandemic, you should pay attention to your words. Some people describe their feelings through others’ words instead of their own feelings.

For example when someone tells you, “You have a lot of anxiety,” you start to think, “I have anxiety rather than fear.” If you do this, your fear or anxiety will keep on drifting and never be used for something creative which can change your situation. You will instead be like bread dough that has been kneaded down. It is a feeling of helplessness.

And if you understand the power of words, you can choose words which guide you to the future you hope for. So when we prepare a to-do list for tommorow, please add one word which you hope for. For example, please write “want to-do list” instead of “to-do list”. And please write “joyful accounting time” instead of “accounting time”. These single words which express your hopes quicken its realization. In this case, you will experience a lower barrier to step into your list and you will notice that you finish them earlier than usual.

Consciously or unconsciously, when you use words for denial, you will lose your power. But if you get them on your side as I described in the second paragraph, you will sail free!

Delicious Scent

One of my resolutions this year is to decrease my garbage in half. To help that, I started to make vegetable broth. It is very simple, easy and eco-freindly. When I buy organic fruit, mushrooms and vegetables, I keep their seeds, peels and parts of the roots. I keep them in containers in the freezer until they fill up. Because I live alone, it took two months. I usually eat almost all of the organic vegetables. I guess that is why it took a long time.

Yesterday was my first experience of making vegetable broth. I was amazed at its delicious scent which made me feel full. To make it, boil water and put in the frozen seeds, peels and roots. Then keep it at a low boil for 20 minutes. You can use this time to do something else.

One secret to make it good is using the outer brown onion peels. And you can control the level of bitterness by how much brassica vegetables you use. This time, I put in a lot of brassica, so it tasted a bit bitter. But to detox for spring, bitterness is important. So I am very satisfied with my first vegetable broth. And I cannot forget its delicious scent which filled my room. The scent was so relaxing, which made me feel at home.

So, if you want to decrease your garbage, please try it!

New Vegetables

Living in the countryside sometimes brings me joy to taste new vegetables and fruit. Since I moved here, I have found a rare fruit which was pushed to be grown in the 1980s. Also I discovered some endemic vegetables which translate to “traditional vegetables”.

And yesterday, I found two new vegetables in the organic vegetable section of the local supermarket. One of them is called “asupara na”, a hybrid of two Chinese vegetables. Its appearance is similar to the Chinese water spinach. And when we eat it, we feel that it is similar to asparagus. That is why it is called “Asupara na”.

Another one is called “tane na”. It looks like mustard greens. A cashier suddenly said to me, “Currently, I’m really into this vegetable. Sauteing it with oyster sauce and sesame oil is soooo perfect.” She was like a girl in love. Anyway, “tane na” looked like it would taste bitter.

Today, I cooked them. I boiled “asupara na” for a short time. So I ate them with lemon juice and soy sauce. It was sweet like asparagus as its name implies. And regarding “tane na”, I sauteed them with shrimp, ginger, Sichuan pepper, salted rice malt and oyster sauce. It was also sweet and it is more juicy and crispy than mustard greens.

Whatever it is, new experiences support us to move forward. So please invite such supporters in your life to decrease your stress.

More Options Make You Have Fun!

If you want to have more fun in your daily life, one of the easiest ways is having more options. For example, if you have three types of toothpaste, you can have some fun to choose one from the three.

If you think, “I must choose one from this group,” like you may have experienced in your childhood, you may have more fun in the easiest way.

If you wanted to use melon-flavored toothpaste in your childhood, but you couldn’t, I recommend that you get it now. For example, even if you are at home, you can mix juices as if you were in typical Japanese family restaurant like Gusto.

Now you can prepare many options for yourself, because you are an adult now. Congratulations!

Nursing Care Product

Every year, I send a birthday gift for each of my parents. This January my father will be 77 years old. He experienced both a very light brain infarct and atrial fibrillation, so when I thought him in my mind, “nursing care” flashed through my mind.

Because of that, I searched for a birthday gift which would help him in his daily life somehow. And I found MOGU goods which are cushions and pillows filled with powdered beads and loved by both children and adults. The MOGU website says their products are good for nursing care which will fit small Japanese houses.

When we are supported physically, I mean that when we don’t feel any space between our body and the wall or floor or chair, we can forget our anxieties and fears. I knew that my father sometimes had worries about his health, so I thought that this would be the best gift for him this year.

When he got it, he quickly started to use it like a small child and looked happy. With a big smile he told me that it was warm. All seniors have a tendency to have a high cold or warm threshold. Before when I asked him whether he felt cold or not, he denied it, even though he felt cold. MOGU helped me to confirm the gap between his words and his true feelings.

I recommend that you look at nursing care products in a positive manner,even if you are young. Because some nursing care products simply help almost all of us.

Outbreaks of Wuhan Coronavirus

Here is a map of the outbreaks of Wuhan coronavirus.

It is very important to know what is happening now and it is very natural to feel fear or anxiety. But if you are trapped in them, you
will get tunnel vision and it will create a fearful reality.

There are many things to do for decreasing the risk of infection, like staying away from crowds. And you can turn this opportunity into your new life style which decreases the impact on the Earth.

In addition, let’s pray for people who have died because of the Wuhan coronavirus and their loved ones who are still alive. And why don’t we share our appreciation for people who are working in the hospital for such patients.

You can always change your reality to a brighter one.

Homemade Soy Sauce

In my area, bottle recycling collection day is very limited, because our city is poor. So I must keep empty soy sauce and vinegar bottles for a few weeks. And I don’t like it. So I decided to make soy sauce by myself, instead of having to remember bottle recycling collection day.

My experience of making other long-term preserved food pushed me to do so. Because both making miso bean paste which is a long-term preserved food, and making pickled Japanese plum were easier and quicker than I imagined. And actually home-made long-term preserved food is much more tasty than store bought ones. If I make them at one time, I could preserve them over a few years at room temperature. It alleviated my stress.

So I ordered a home-made soy sauce kit from MUJI. I had searched for these kinds of things for a few times in the last few years, but it was the first time to find it. Actually it takes one year to make soy sauce. But I’m already enjoying growing it. I am so happy to get my new “toy”.

 

Limitations

Sometimes limitations help us to do things better. For example, many film directors created their best works when they did not have enough money. In this case, financial limitations helped to create high-quality films.

I live in the countryside which has many limitations compared to cities. And these limitations have guided me to come across a lovely snow globe. Usually I love to buy things which are functional and elegant. When I saw snow globes before, they were cute but seemed big and rustic to me.

But this time, I found an owl snow globe. Owls remind me one of my nephew and I love owl songs. So even if it is non-functional and not quite elegant, I bought a snow globe for the first time in my life.

We often believe that a variety of choices brings something good more than limited choices. But I think that both can bring us something good. It simply depends on our attitude towards the choices in front of us.

Formaldehyde

Formaldehyde is a known cause of sick building syndrome. Maybe you don’t know that formalin is an liquid solution of formaldehyde. And also formaldehyde is included in both cigarette smoke and e-cigarette vapor.

So even if you are a non-smoker, when you are exposed to second-hand smoke, you are affected by it and will feel pain in your nose, throat and eyes.

My noisy neighbors love toxic things including smoking heavily. And their smoke come into my house every day. I taped all of the cracks in my room. And I use two high performance air purifiers. It improves the air in my room, but I still feel pain pinpricks and inflamed sinuses. These symptoms have intensified and I cannot sleep even if I wear an activated carbon filter mask. 

I had never experienced sick building syndrome before, but I was reminded of formaldehyde. I used a spray with a formaldehyde enzyme. So immediately I could breath deeply and my sinuses improved.  Even the floor felt differently on the soles of my feet.  I felt that my room became bigger.

I used many products to remove all the smoky odor, but there are still toxic residue, like formaldehyde. Formaldehyde is colorless and sometimes odorless. I wiped the floors with a cloth every day. This works to remove odors to some extent, so it is hard to detect toxins through smell.

If you feel some pain on your sinuses, it is worth thinking about formaldehyde.

Like Tofu Makers

My sense of discipline has helped me.  For example, it has helped me to walk every other day.  Discipline has helped me maintain my health for a long time.  However, I have wanted to change such fixed everyday rituals to more appropriate adapted ones for my body based on my needs for the day. 

In Japan, tofu makers change the amount of water to soy beans to make tofu every day, because every day we have different weather. I think that that is a more natural method than doing the same thing regardless of weather.

I wanted to be like the tofu maker for my body. They feel the conditions of both soy beans and the weather.  I also wanted to sense the condition of my body and the weather more.

I have believed that repeating the same thing changes the quality itself. And it happened like a thunderclap.  Suddenly I became like a tofu maker. Now I can prepare the most appropriate exercise routine like yoga, walking and stretching for the day. I can stop at the comfortable level of the day.

This is a new dimension for me. It is very fun!

Hot Water

Hot water is called “sayu” in Japanese. It is written as white water in Chinese characters. This simple hot water is traditionally drunk by babies and people who have weak stomachs while recovering from illness. Also sometimes “sayu ” is the best first drink in the morning because it helps detox and activate our digestive system.

Even though I knew about it, I prefered tea like loasted green tea or herb tea. This September, I realized that I needed more stretching or myofascial release of my upper body and it was urgent. I have been annoyed by noisy and smoking neighbours for a half year and it made my neck and shoulder very tight. And if I avoid doing them, my muscles become unbalanced.

So I started to search for movements which loosen my neck and shoulders. And I found it on Youtube. Actually it was so good. I loved the instructor’s speaking speed. I am very familiar with yoga, so it is not a high bar for me. That instructor reminded me of my yoga teacher Kyoko in Tokyo. It also made everything smooth.

After I tried one sequence for neck and shoulders, I realized that I really enjoy it. When I woke up the next morning, I thought that I wanted to do Yoga in the daytaime. I anticipated it after my work. And actually I did some routine, and suddenly I wanted to drink simple hot water not a tea. I did not want to add anything to my body. So “sayu” was the best for me. And I rememberd the yoga class by Kyoko in Tokyo. At that moment, I sometimes had mildly hot water during some pose by Kyoko’s instruction. “Sayu” was like lubricant for my body. It helps detox and move my body more smoothly. It never kicked me like coffee did.

So I keep on having “sayu” and yoga in the daytime. It is so fun for me. And doing yoga in the daytime, I needed to eat a smaller lunch. It also had a good impact on my body. Now exercising is more fun than eating. For a food-lover like me, it’s really surprising.

From Pianist to Piano Teacher

I saw a documentary about Seymour Bernstein who was a pianist. And his impactful words and his lace-like piano sound touched my heart. I was especially impressed by these following words: “I remember I became aware when practice went well, everything in life seemed harmonized. When it didn’t, I was out of sorts. The real essence of who we are resides in our talent, whatever that talent is.”

When he felt that he was satisfied with being a pianist, he decided to quit and started to live as a piano teacher. I thought that such a way of living was something I should pursue.

I could feel the love he had for discipline was his way of living. Sometimes amateurs start something which they love. But professionals try to transcend love for their job, so they think that discipline is important and pushes them. Discipline is essentially different from punishment. Because discipline comes from inside of us.

And also I think that we don’t have love in us. Love is like the air. When we love something, it is like being wrapped in air which is called love by us. It is mostly the same as wrapping a gift. So we cannot rely on that. But discipline holds us like the arms of a father. It is more reliable and realistic.

Do you have any ideal vision which you want to pursue as a human?

Bats

When I moved to this city, I was annoyed by bat droppings. It opened a door to know about bats. And in August, I went to a bat observation event at night. It was held by a bat museum located in-between Nara and Kyoto.

Bats looks like birds, because they fly freely. But in fact, they are mammals, so their wings are actually their hands. One quarter of mammals in the world are bats. And one third of mammals in Japan are bats. But I still haven’t seen flying bats.

I learned that bats are very beneficial to humans. Because they eat 500 mosquitoes in one night. Summer time is their breeding season. And luckily I could see a rescued baby bat. It was shaking by our glance. Bat detectors informed us its echolocation sound which is around 45hz.

Roughly speaking, their sonar sound is a trace of survivor in the Jurasic period. They live in dinosaur’s shadow. It sounds like they are weak. But in fact, they are enough strong for survive rather than dinosaurs. That is the key to evolve for us, too.

One Preconception Can Disturb You

When you were a child, maybe you just loved to flip pages of books. Even if you could not read the text, you did not care about it and you just loved smell the paper and see illustrations. You didn’t understood it but you knew how to enjoy books well. You were already equipped with the attitude to jump in an unknown new world. You were an excellent adventurer.

But as time goes by, you learnt that you needed to read the books to enjoy them more. You started to understand books. Then, to understand school textbooks, you started to read the same page again and again. Cute illustrations were skipped and the thickness of books made you lose your excitement for books. The thickness of books started to mean how much you needed to understand, so you started to pass by books written in an unknown language. The pressure to understand deprived you of your inner adventure. And you started to be smaller in front of new unknown worlds.

Then you started to feel that reading books was very difficult for you. You could think deeper than before, but you stopped often so it took a long time to finish reading. But if you throw away your preconception of “Books should be understood,” what would happen to you? You can sometimes skip some texts which you couldn’t understand and you can take back your curiosity and start to love unknown new worlds.

I think that you are enough to understand books. So please start to integrate the inner deep thinker and adventurer in you. If so, unknown thick books will smile at you.

An Oppressor

If you want to be loved or esteemed by someone, it can make you vulnerable. Because you need to maintain your self image of being loved or esteemed by someone, you may be in denial of other parts of you, And when you are criticized by someone, even if it is very valuable to you, you may need to underestimate it to maintain your image of a good girl or boy.

These movements in you intterupt your inner integration. And the person who you wanted to be loved or esteemed by will be an oppressor. You will start to feel deprived of your inner space by that person. And when you lose your purpose, you will face your fragility.

I hope that you stop turning your loving person into an oppresor and your life be filled with happiness.

Am I Wrong? Or Are Others Wrong?

If you have experienced the feeling of “Am I wrong?” or “Are others wrong?”, it is important for your future to recognize that you may have experienced abuse.

If you have experienced abuse it was probably an impactful experience. It is imprinted as an abnormal event in our consciousness. But after that, it becomes repeatedly experienced, because we get used to it and it becomes normal. And it becomes a part of our daily life. Abnormal turns into normal.

So we start to have an porous boundary between normal and abnormal or use and abuse. So you may ask yourself, “Am I wrong? Or are others wrong.”

Now most traumas can be healed. So please find some treatment for your trauma. You are not wrong.

A True Server

I met a person who is truly dedicated to his work. He is not a fixer. He is a true server. At a glance, I could sense what he was working for. His sincere attitude comes from his rich life history.

Usually we get appreciation from our customers or clients. But he works as if he appreciates them, even and especially when clients complain. It was very new to me. That is why I think he is a true server.

I feel that he embodies appreciation and gratitude. And he is just the tip of the iceberg of a deeper being. It is like the grandeur of nature.

I met a true server. And I think that this is what respect feels like.

My allergy has gone.

I have been annoyed by noisy and stinking neighbors for three months. And also this year Nabari City was often covered with a photochemical oxidant. So I was in a hard situation.

But when I went to an ophthalmologist this May, my longtime primary care doctor told me that surprisingly my allergy had gone. She was astonished at it and she recommended me to write a book on how I recovered from my allergy. She told me that she couldn’t explain it medically.

I didn’t try to recover from hay fever. So actually I don’t know how I made it happen again. But at least, I always strived to reveal wholeness in me or in someone. So I think my passion for wholeness kicked away my allergy.

20kg of Zeolite

I bought 20kg of zeolite. Because my neighbors use fabric softener which lasts longer than perfume and because they also smoke, I need to absorb it somehow while I use an air conditioner for summer.

Most air conditioners don’t circulate air from outside to inside. But according to the manufacturer of my air conditioner, there is a possibility that I get air from outside through the drain hose. The strong and long-lasting smell of softeners are toxic to the neural system. It includes addictive ingredients which are the same as illegal and psychotropic drugs. So I don’t want to breathe it in.

Before buying 20kg of zeolite, I used 2kg of activated carbon to absorb volatile organic compounds. It helped me, but I found an air purifier which uses zeolite to clean the air. That’s why I though I should use zeolite instead of carbon. It is strange to see 20kg of zeolite in my room. But anyway I hope it works. We need clean air.

Emergency Issue

Many of you may pick and choose when to eat garlic, because of its strong smell. But garlic aroma does not harm us.

As you know, cigarette smoke harms us. So smokers usually ask for permission before they smoke. When we say yes, we accept that we will be exposed to the fumes.

But most of us do not care about the smell of fabric softener. And now all kinds cleansers are becoming stronger. Even though we have over 7,000,000 chemically sensitive people because of those products in Japan, some of the chemically sensitive people are diagnosed with hay fever instead of CS. It seems that CS is still an under diagnosed disease for doctors.

The most important thing is, all of us may be diagnosed with CS. We need to reduce chemical products including fresheners and cleansers. This is a very critical issue for us.

Tunnel Vision

In both Nabari and Tokyo, I feel that people started to have limited eyesight. For example, I saw that children could not stay on the sidewalk at a red light. They run into and wait on the busy street . And many adults start to cross the crosswalk without any hesitation at a red light. The number of people who behave creepy and weird is increasing at a rapid pace.

It seems that they only see where they want to go as if they were wearing swimming goggles which limit their eyesight. I see children age three or younger have a wider view or broader eyesight more than people aged four or older. This made me sad and I was at a loss for words.

And do you recognize that there is some relationship between climate change and such people’s behavior? In short, Earth is getting worse so we humans are also getting worse. When Earth became unhealthy, we humans also became unhealthy. It is impossible to feel happiness when Earth gets sick, because we are a part of Earth. So tunnel vision embodies the morbid state of humans.

Many people still think that considering Earth is only for activists. Many people treat it as a difference of values. But I don’t think so. Because it is all about our life. Earth influences our life directly. I think that eco-activism is required for all global citizens.

Beyond Design and Belief

Many people care about colors and shapes in their room. Especially when we get lots of money, we have a tendency to be critical of such designs in our rooms or our stuff. And many people value their beliefs. Especially when they become famous, they have a tendency to enshrine it.

But I think that there is truth beyond design and belief. And when we live in truth, everything goes smoothly rather than being attached to design and belief. When we take back subtlety in our body, we can collect information through five senses and the senses of internal organs like gut feelings. If we do it, we can easily realize that design is just a part of space, and belief is just a part of our whole body system.

It is the shortest way to realize world peace and a healthier Earth which many people hope for. Unfortunately, both design and belief have their limits regarding their influence. We can transcend such limits through our potential subtlety. I think that it is true hope for all of us.

Intentions Like a Web

When I went to an old, big and famous temple in Nara this Feburary, I was a bit shocked. There were firefighters, police officers, monks, TV crews, Buddhist parishioners, and visitors for the traditional Fire Festival.

I felt that many intentions were there like a web. It was tight, complex and absurd. And most of the standing people were TV crews. They behaved like the center of this event. I felt that I was an audience to boost the mood for TV shows. I felt that people did not focus on the true intention of this event. It made me uncomfortable and I felt bad.

That temple is located in the depths of Nara but the atmosphere of that event was far from a traditional one. It was mostly just a party. I felt that human society went wrong. It happens everywhere in this world, too. So we should think about it deeper.

Noisy Neighors

I am mad at my noisy neighbors who moved in this March. It’s like deja vu from my last neighbors. I complained very quickly to the apartment management company. But the noisy neighbors lied about their noise as follows: “We don’t remember such behavior at all. We don’t know anything about it.” But they chatted until four o’clock in the morning. I hear tapping noise all throughout the day and night. And they listen to music without headphones and watch TV at a high volume.

The apartment management company called them and posted a notice which warned against such behavior. But they haven’t stopped it. If it is a big noise which can be heard from outiside, police can intervene. But unfortunately, it can’t be heard from outside.

And the most of what I want to avoid being woken up just as I fall asleep. Because it makes me feel angry and anger keeps me totally awake. This state of tension creates diabetes and high blood pressure. In short, if I keep on getting angry, I will increase the chances of developing some disease as I described.

To decrease such risk, I found a good solution, so I will share it with you. If we keep on getting angry, we use a specific part of our brain. It creates a bad blood flow in the brain. If we improve it, we can also use our anger in a healthy way to protect our dignity. First make the shape of eyeglasses with your hands and put them up to your eyes, and look through them for ten seconds while saying “see” to yourself. And secondly, make ear horns with your hands and hold them up to your ear as if you are listening to a whisper and think to yourself, “hear” for ten seconds. And thirdly, hug yourself and think to yourself, “feel” for ten seconds. This helps our brain blood circulation. We need to these three steps for three times, for a total of one and a half minutes.

Anger helpes us to protect our dignity and also anger harms us. And we can choose. Anyway, I hope my noisy neighbors go away soon.

Hybrid Life?

Around 5 years ago, I had a workshop in Tokyo in which I set up many branches, trunks and grasses in that room. I also used bird sounds to make people feel as if they were in nature. Participants liked it and I was satisfied with how I set up my workshop space.

This month, I went into a fruit shop in Nara. It was nicely decorated like a cafe in Tokyo. And bird sounds played in that shop. Many fruit and its products were arranged artfully. It was as if I had set up my workshop space almost 5 years ago. And I felt discomfort.

I have lived in the countryside for 2 and half years. My daily life is always a part of nature. I mean that everything is interconnected into a whole picture. Bird sounds are just a part of the nature like a pixel. Branches or fruitt are also just a part of nature like a pixel. Both are just particles but the whole picture involves space between particles and other particles. So when I entered into that nice shop, I felt the pain of unnatural separation.

When I lived in Tokyo, I rather admired such a pixelated life as a unique one. I did not feel the pain of separation. I thought that a hybrid of urban life and natural things was sophisticated. But now I know how much it is an unbalanced way of life. I experienced the world as a whole compared to how I experienced the world in my past. So now I don’t admire such a hybrid life. Because I jumped into life in the countryside with courage and already knew that it is there.

I Should Pursue It

I took part in a casual incense burning class in Nara. I had already taken part in an incence burning class in Tokyo, so I already had some knowledge. But this was the first time to choose ingredients and blend them by myself.

Basically, incense ingredients are divided into kinds of quality ranges, like sharp to sweet and heavy to light. I had a tendency to like sweet and heavy. And almost all of them came from southern coutries like India. And herbs in southern countries improve digestion. So many participants started to feel hungry or have grumbling stomachs while blending their scents. It was very interesting.

Most of the ingredients of incense are used as spices in cooking, but it is the lowest quality. The highest quality is always used for ingredients of incence and the second highest quality is always used for chinese medicine. It came as a surprise to me. In Japan, incense sticks which were made in the Edo Era, are the most popular form of incense. But since the 6th century, incense has been used in Japan. It was fun to learn about the history of incense.

Actually, the week before of this incense class, I took part in an event of Japanese herbs. Some of them were the same. And it was very fun. So I thought that I really loved such kinds of herbs and spices and I should pursue it more! What do you pursue more?

Tenderness which Looks Austere

I went to the Irie Taikichi Memorial Museum in Nara City. I had never seen his works. But when I ran a keyword search of Nara, his name came up a lot, so I was interested in it.

The first time I tried to go to there, it was at the end of 2018. I got lost and instead of going there, I found a nice cake shop. I had a good time in that cafe and on the way back home I found out that it had already closed for the year. So maybe I was lucky. It is a bit far from Nara station and it takes around two hours from my house. So for the second time, I also failed to reach there before it closed. And instead of going there, I found a nice bakery. Again, I was lucky.

For the third time, I finally got there. It is located in a neat housing estate. Third time is the charm ! It was blended in with the surrounding houses. I was surprised at it. Once inside, I started to appreciate his works. All of his photos were impressive. Immediately, my heart was stunned into silence by their beauty.

Because time was appreciated in all his photos every moment was precious and transitory. He never focused on something dramatic. His photos were filled with sincerity, cleanliness and drama-free sensitivity. He surrendered to viewers how they find some kind of drama. In his photos, dignity of all the subjects were guarded. It made my breath deeper and made me feel spacious. His style was brisk, crisp and invigorating to me.

His subjects were not unique. I thought if I were him, I would never have chosen such ordinary things. But those ordinary things were given a seat by him. So all the subjects were clearly there because he appreciated presence. His photos were austere. At the same time, that austerity drew a clear line to tenderness which he embodied. Ambivalence was intergated into his photos. The time I spent in this museum adjusted my posture and helped to bring tenderness back into my life.