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?
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.
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.