The Night Watchers and the Luminous Place 夜守りとキラキラしているところ


Photo by Jackson David on Unsplash

A few days ago, my mom gave me a call. She said there was no particular reason for the call. "I just wanted to say hi," she said. It was good timing, so we spoke for about half an hour.

We talked about various subjects, and at one point, somehow, we stumbled upon a topic, "Talking to strangers." We agreed that neither of us is afraid of talking to strangers, although I am an introvert and love spending time alone.

From my parents, especially my mother, I learned to trust in people's goodness, regardless of their appearance or social status. 

When I was about four years old, I remember seeing a man with a noticeable scar on his face at the supermarket where my mom and I regularly shopped. We didn’t see him every time, but we saw him sometimes. He was probably in his 50s or 60s at that time, and he was always by himself. He would say hi, and we said hi back to him. I remember my mom carrying on casual conversations with him. I did not see other people talking to him. Whenever he said hi to us, my mom did not look bothered or scared. Sometimes, he tried to buy me ice cream, and my mom often politely turned down the offer, but occasionally, I got ice cream, and I remember thanking him and eating it in front of the store before it melted. I remember seeing his eyes were squinting and he looked happy seeing me eat the ice cream. 

In high school, I had eating an disorder and crowd phobia, and I barely managed to go to school. But I was able to go to the Suga Jazz Dance Studio to take dance classes every night. When I danced, I could breathe deeply.

My family lived in an apartment then, located in the central part of the city. This was because my father, an engineer, needed to get to the office immediately during an emergency. Since it was in the middle of a town, it happened to be in a red-light district (but a safe area). 

I used to ride my bicycle to the dance studio. A few hundred yards from my house stood one of the high-end-looking businesses on the edge of the red-light district. I liked that this business didn’t have any obnoxious flickering neon signs. There was always a man in a suit standing in front of the closed door to greet their guests. There were two or three men, and they took turns standing outside. 

I knew what the shop was for, but I didn’t want to ignore the doorman's presence. I gave them a quick bow whenever I passed by, and they lifted their chins toward me or raised their hands as if to say, "Hi." Eventually, our nightly recognition turned into verbal greetings, like "Good evening" (on the way to a class) and them responding, "Be careful (meaning - of the traffic)." When I came home, I said, "Good night," and they replied, "Good night."

I never stopped to talk to them, but we exchanged the pleasantries that my bicycle speed allowed for. They eventually knew I was going to a dance class and practicing for Yosakoi, an annual dance festival of my hometown in which the whole town dances. Sometimes, their greetings had variations: "Good luck tomorrow!” for the night before the festival or "Oh good, you're back safely" when I came home later than usual, and so on. 

We didn’t know each other's names; none of us tried to find out. I didn’t know how they ended up doing that job, or why they would take the time to greet me. 

But in the lonely world of torturing myself with food and the scale, they became my night watchers and provided a ray of moonlight into my dark, cold heart as if to say, "We see you."

One evening, my mom and I happened to go out together on bicycles. When we passed in front of the business, we both greeted the doorman. He looked at us and laughed as if to say, "Ah, you two are related! Makes sense!" 

My mom and I also looked at each other and said, "You've been greeting them, too?" Then we laughed. At the same time, I was impressed by my mom once again for being their regular greeter.

Also, no one was standing there during the daytime, so sometimes, I wondered if they really existed. I was happy to know that my mom knew of these souls that appeared nightly, too.

These are only two examples, but I have many more episodes of my mother making friends with strangers, including "outsiders" with whom other people did not seem to want to be associated. 

From my mother, I learned to look into the "luminous place" flowing deeply within each of us and to meet people in that place. 

Also from my mother, I learned that the world can be a scary place sometimes, but it's worth believing in and showing up.

You can listen to this article's podcast episode at the following link. The episode number is #5.
















これはほんの二つのエピソードだけど、 他の方が見て見ぬ振りするような方々を含め、知らない人たちと、母が打ち解けていく様子を私は多々見て育ってきた。





The 18th Sanjukta Panigrahi Yuva Mahotsav

The world has been going through such turmoil in many aspects, including the pandemic, lives being displaced by armed conflicts, racism, climate issues, and more. Since the beginning of 2020, there have been numerous times when I hesitated to share things, not wanting to cover up other important messages. 

However, today, I would like to humbly share this celebratory news because what my teacher's teacher in India is doing is noteworthy. 

Also, in times like this, I remember what my maternal grandfather, a traditional bamboo weaver, said. "People don't need art to survive, but art makes people's hearts supple and whole and sustain human spirits, so in difficult times, artists need to keep honing their skills and creating art." 

Guru Jhelum Paranjape, whom we affectionately call Jhelumtai ("tai" means elder sister in Marathi, one of the Indian languages), has organized this annual dance festival called "Sanjukta Panigrahi Yuva Mahotsav" through her dance school, Smitalay, since 2004. 

Sanjukta Panigrahi (the lady in black and white in the flyer above) was the foremost exponent of Indian classical dance Odissi. She passed away at age 52 in 1997. Yuva means youth, and mahotsav means festival. Since Sanjuktaji always encouraged young dancers, Jhelumtai started this festival to support newly establishing dancers, presenting nearly all the classical styles. 

Last year and this year, the festival was and is hosted virtually due to the pandemic. When I received a message from one of Jheumtai's senior students, Hemangitai, notifying me that I will be a part of the festival, I could not believe it. 

I scouted possible locations, asked my friend, Kosuke Furukawa to videotape me, and I edited the video. Kosuke said that morning light is the best, so we began shooting at 7 am. I woke up at 4 am and got ready; I had never performed that early in my life. :-D 

Then I experienced a huge learning curve to use DaVinci Resolve, a video editing software. I watched many YouTube videos, read websites, and asked Kosuke and another friend, Stephan Boeker for their guidance over the phone to complete the video. 

Why did I edit it myself? 1) I did not have the funds to hire an editor. 2) I always wanted to learn how to use DaVinci Resolve. Thanks to Jheumtai for this incentive to dive into something new.

One more dive I had to make was to be okay with making my performance video available to the Internet world. With Yosakoi dance (Japanese dance), I had no problem. I've been dancing it since I was a child. I felt I knew what I was doing well enough, and I was satisfied with my performance level. 

But with Odissi, I am only dancing it since 2005, and it takes years and years to learn this classical art form. There are so many incredible dancers, and I have a long way to reach their mastery if I could ever get there. I had to overcome my inner voice and tell myself, "You know what, Akari? You did what you could do as of today. It was your best as of today, so be okay with it. And keep working on it. Being vulnerable is a part of the growth process! You cannot avoid it if you want to grow, and you're not gonna die from it, so get used to it." 

I am grateful to Jhelumtai for believing in me and pushing my back to be on this platform. 

I know that for Hawaii friends, it will be hard to watch it live as it will be 3:30 am (on Tuesday, 8/24). I believe it will be available to be viewed after the live show on FB and YouTube

On the first day, Preetisha Mohapatra, the granddaughter of Padmavibhushan Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra and Sumanjit, a disciple of Guru Aloka Kanungo will be seen. I saw Alokaji's performance in India in 2014, and I had goose bumps.

I am on the second day with Sanatan Chakravarty, another senior disciple of Jhelumtai. I met and got to perform with Sanatan back in 2013. I believe we are close in age, and hearing his story of quitting a stable job to pursue Odissi dance truly inspired me (which I ended up doing the following year). 

I offer a deep bow to Padmashree Sanjukta Panigrahi, Smitalay, Jhelumtai, and the Smitalay friends working behind the scene for this opportunity. (Thank you, Ankur Ballal.) 

And my pranam to my teacher, Sarala Dandekar Vafaie for I am here because of her.





私たちが親しみを込めて 「ジェーラムタイ」と呼ぶ(名前の後につく「タイ」はインドのマラーティー語で「お姉さん」という意味)ジェーラム・パランザペ師は、2004年から自身のダンススクール 、Smitalay で「Sanjukta Panigrahi Yuva Mahotsav」というダンスフェスティバルを毎年開催しています。ジェーラムタイは私の先生の先生です。




そして、ビデオ編集ソフトDaVinci Resolveの使い方を学ぶのに大変な苦労をしました。YouTubeの動画をたくさん見たり、ウェブサイトを読んだり、こうすけさんや友人のステファンさんに電話越しで教えてもらったりして、ビデオを完成させました。

なぜ自分で編集したのかといいますと、1)編集者を雇う資金がなかったから。2)DaVinci Resolveの使い方を学びたいとずっと思っていたから。ですので、このように新しいことに挑戦するきっかけを作ってくれたジェーラムタイに感謝しています。









Springing Memories and Waterfalling Appreciation 湧き出る思い出、滝(たぎ)つ感謝の想い 

Sports Day (elementary school)

This morning, my dad emailed me a link to view 426 photos he kindly scanned and uploaded from my childhood (elementary, middle school, and high school years). As I fondly looked at each one, countless memories surfaced like spring water, and when I looked up for a second, I was not sure where I was.

I reminded myself, "I became an adult and am living on the island of Maui." I felt like my childhood was a lifetime ago. Then I used a bathroom; I saw myself in the mirror and felt a fascinating, foreign feeling. I thought to myself, "That girl became this person now," as if I was looking at a neighbor's kid.

Sports Day (middle school)

I was detached from my identity and almost objectively perceived her growth over the years. After the nostalgic feeling evaporated, what was left in my heart's "nostalgia lake" was pure appreciation.

I am here today because of all the people who have touched my life - my family, friends, teachers, mentors, neighbors, and those of whom I don't even know their names. The appreciation overwhelmed me like a waterfall and made me cry as I looked at myself in the photos and myself in the mirror.

After a school event, with classmates (middle school)


With my rhythmic gymnastics teammates (high school)



With one of my best friends, Ekko (high school)




Matsuyama Air Raids 松山空襲

American B-29 Super Fortress bomber over Nakajima Aircraft Co., Musashino Plant, Japan. On the ground, smoke marks its bombing impacts, 1945. The image is from Everett Collection at ShutterStock.com (I paid to download). All rights reserved. 全ての写真は、ShutterStock.comのEverett Collectionにて購入いたしました。ブログやSNSに掲載する許可はもらいましたが、これらの写真を許可なく転載、複製などに利用することはできません。

76 years ago, today, my grandma's town was under an air raid attack by US B-29s.

One time, I asked her what it was like, and she shared the story below.

At that time, my grandma and my grandpa were living in Dogo town in Matsuyama, Ehime, not in the mountains where she spent most of her life as a farmer. My grandpa, was not drafted into the war since he was the first son. They had a two-year-old daughter, and my grandma was pregnant with their second child.

Whenever a siren roared, the people of Matsuyama evacuated to dugouts. Matsuyama was bombed 16 times between March 1945 and August 1945, according to a historical document listed on the Ehime Shinbun Co., Ltd.

My grandma could not run fast due to her heavy body, so her neighbor, who is in her late teens, always came to grab the two-year-old daughter, my aunt named Sachiko. My grandma said that it was very helpful and appreciated. I imagine what a scary experience it must have been for anyone but especially for young children – the roaring sirens, bombs falling on their heads, and a dark, hot, dusty dugout.

On July 26, 1945, they heard the siren at 11:30 pm; they ran to the dugout. That night, my grandma was near the entrance of the dugout since she was one of the last ones to get inside. She peeked outside for a second and saw an airplane approaching. She closed the door, and then there was an earsplitting noise. Later, when it seemed safe enough to come out, people who hid there found an unexploded bomb next to the dugout. If it had exploded, the small dugout would have probably been blown up, and I would not have been here in this way. The Japanese army came to retrieve the bomb.

According to the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, the B-29s dropped 896 tons of incendiary on that night. Survivors described it as a rain of irons and fire. People's effort to put it out was nothing against the massive fire that burned 90% of the city. 14,300 houses were burned, and 251 people died.

The scale of the damage was much smaller than the Bombing of Tokyo, which took place four months before the Matsuyama bombing. It killed approximately 105,400 people and burned more than 70,000 homes. However, regardless of the size of the attack, the fear each individual experienced in both cities must have been tremendous. The night sky of Matsuyama-city my grandma saw from Dogo town was lit up red.

Tokyo, Japan, in ruins after B-29 incendiary attacks during World War 2. The image is from Everett Collection at ShutterStock.com (I paid to download). All rights reserved. 全ての写真は、ShutterStock.comのEverett Collectionにて購入いたしました。ブログやSNSに掲載する許可はもらいましたが、これらの写真を許可なく転載、複製などに利用することはできません。

After the war, US Army troops who were stationed in Matsuyama were seen on the streets. When things settled down enough, my grandma wanted to thank the helpful young neighbor, so my grandma took the young lady to a hair salon to have her hair done. My grandma still had traditional Japanese hair at that time. When they came out of the hair salon, some US soldiers approached them and said something to my grandma. Maybe they wanted to take photos. Who knows, but my grandma was scared and felt responsible for her young companion, so she took her hand and dashed home, taking small streets that only locals knew.

Soon after the war, my grandma and her family moved back to the mountain home where my grandpa's parents lived.

My grandparents had a relative who went to the war and came home with a bullet mark in his abdomen. The bullet penetrated his body, and he survived. I vaguely remember this great-uncle. When he was happily drunk, he laughingly showed us his bullet mark. He was laughing, but as a young girl, I was thinking, "It must have hurt."

This year marks 76 years since the war ended. Now, not many survivors are around us, and the reality of the war is fading away. Therefore, I feel our responsibility (especially those of us who had the war experiencers around) to carry these stories to future generations to avert repeating the same mistake.


Formation of B-29's releasing incendiary bombs over Japan in June 1945. The image is from Everett Collection at ShutterStock.com (I paid to download). All rights reserved. 全ての写真は、ShutterStock.comのEverett Collectionにて購入いたしました。ブログやSNSに掲載する許可はもらいましたが、これらの写真を許可なく転載、複製などに利用することはできません。





祖母は妊婦の体が重くて速く走れないので、10代後半になるお隣さんの娘さんがいつも2歳の娘(私のおばさん)を抱っこしに来てくれたそうです。祖母は「とても助かった、ありがたかった」と言っていました。 誰にとっても怖い体験だったと思いますが、特に幼い子供にとってはサイレンの音、空から降ってくる焼夷弾、暑く埃っぽく暗い防空壕は恐ろしい体験だったに違いありません。






親戚に戦争に行った人がいて、お腹に銃弾の跡をつけて帰ってきました。弾丸は彼の体を貫通し、彼は生き延びました。その大叔父を私は何となく覚えています。楽しく酔っ払っているときに、銃弾の跡を笑いながら見せてくれました。彼は笑っていましたが、小さかった私は 「痛かっただろうな 」と思いました。



A Call Back from the Other Side あの世からの折り返し電話

A couple of blog entries ago, I wrote about pretending to call my grandma who passed away. 

Well, she called me back. 

Before the "call back," there were a couple of attempts leading up to it. 

For instance, two days after my grandma's funeral, when I was about to fall asleep, I heard her voice calling me, "Akari-chan, Akari-chan," just the way she used to call me. I felt like she was right there. 

To her voice, I responded in my mind, "Grandma?" 

A part of me knew that I needed to stay in the half-asleep space or at the wavelength if I wanted to continue the dialogue, but I guess I had not practiced such skill enough. :-) My mind surfaced, and I fully woke up. I did not hear her anymore, but my heart was warm, feeling her invisible yet continuous existence watching over me. 

Then three weeks after her passing, I had a dream. 

In it, my phone was ringing, and without checking who was calling, I answered. To my pleasant surprise, it was my grandma. She said, "Hi Akari-chan." 

In the dream, I also knew that she had passed away. I excitedly said, "Grandma! Oh, it's SO nice to hear from you. How are you doing on that side?" 

She thoughtfully responded, "Fine, fine," and then playfully said, "I'm starting to understand how things work on this side!" 

My grandma had such a curious mind. She was fascinated to know how things work. If something broke, she wanted to try fixing it. After I came to Maui, she even started to learn some English words on her own from a book! 

I thought that her answer was so her! Her admirable curiosity was intact, and whatever it took her to "call me," she managed to do it! 

I responded, "Oh, I am so glad to hear that." 

She sounded happy and content. I don't remember anything after that, but it was enough. I stayed in bed, immersed in the echo of her voice. 

Then I came to understand that she called me back to my pretend call. She must have seen me calling her and thought, "Well, I better figure out a way to call her back."

Again and again, my heart is full of appreciation toward her and love from her, and my eyes easily fill up because of those feelings. 

Oh, life!

You can listen to this article's podcast episode at the following link. The episode number is #4.






その声に、私は心の中で 「おばあちゃん?」と答えました。 そしてそのまま会話を続けるには、半分眠っているような状態で波長を合わせなければならないと思ったのですが、そういった練習が足りなかったようで、私の意識は浮上し、完全に目が覚めてしまいました。




「あかりちゃん 」とまたおばあちゃんは話しかけてくれました。 夢の中でも、おばあちゃんが亡くなっていることは分かっていました。でも久しぶりにおばあちゃんの声が聞けてうれしい私は、「おばあちゃん!?」と答えました。











From Silver-lining to Blue Bird シルバーライニングからブルーバードへ

With my friend, April

In 20 years of my driving life, I did something for the first time - I purchased a brand new motor vehicle.

I've always liked Subaru Crosstrek, Outback, and Forester. For the past decade or so, I envisioned getting one of them someday. I liked that they are AWD and had high clearance. It helps me to go to the Hana land, which has a steep, unpaved driveway. With my old car, I could not go up the driveway when it rained.

I had always bought a used car, under $4,800 ($500 for the first one, $2,000 for the second one, and a gift for the third one (1986 Mercedes which I loved bad broke down), and $4,800 for the fourth one). This time I decided to get a new car because my old car (almost 200,000 miles) kept breaking down, and it stopped in the middle of a road twice. I was tired of being towed home and keep fixing it.

I looked at some newer used cars (not Subaru cars) with a mechanic, but I could not come to trust those cars. And used Subaru cars were almost as expensive as brand new ones.

So, for the first time in my life, I entertained the idea of becoming the first owner of a car. It was going to be the most expensive purchase to make in my adult life, so it was pretty nerve-wracking. I wanted to know every detail about the cars and the finance/loans aspect, so I did my homework.

To educate myself and compare, I've visited dealerships other than Subaru (and I genuinely considered other makers, too). And I ended up visiting the Subaru dealership on Maui four times before I signed a paper.
Signing several official papers

Each time I visited (with or without appointments), Dayne, my sales representative, did not show me a slight annoyance of "Oh, her again," and patiently answered all my questions. He said, "It's a big purchase, so it's good you're asking these questions." He was very responsive via emails and text messages as well. With all of my questions and concerns answered and addressed, I've made up my mind to get a Crosstrek.

At my fourth visit, Dayne asked me, "Now you know what model you want. What about color?"

"Color? I've been so busy deciding a model; I haven't thought about it. What are the options?"

He showed me a computer screen, and then he pointed at a car that was sitting outside the dealership, waiting to be picked up by a new owner. It was called gray khaki, but it looked like baby blue. I fell in love with it. I knew that it was the color I wanted.

Two weeks later, my car was there all the way from Japan. The day I drove my dream car home happened to be Christmas Eve of 2020. My neighbor saw my car and said, "You must have been really good this year!"

I named it "Blue Bird." When I went to the dealership to pick up Blue Bird, I traded in my old car, a 1999 Honda CR-V named Silver-lining (which did not have much value, but I did not feel comfortable selling to anyone for safety reason).

She and I were together for the past 13 years, allowing me to go places and make memories. It took me to work every day. We went camping. We went everywhere on Maui.

When I went through a sudden, painful divorce from 2011 to 2012, Silver-lining literally held a space for me. I used to drive it out to a neighborhood church cemetery at night, park next to it, and cry my heart out. I had my privacy there and did not have to think about troubling my neighbors with my crying voice. Silver-lining has witnessed me going through the darkest hours of my life; therefore, I had quite a sentiment toward the car. My heart was full of appreciation, and I had difficulty saying goodbye to it. It was my longtime friend.

I cried to let it go.

When I was about to leave the dealership with Blue Bird, I asked Dayne if it was okay for me to visit Silver-lining one last time. He again did not look at me like an odd person and said, "Of course, go, go. It's good to do that."

I walked over to where it was parked, put my palms on its body, and said, "Thank you for safely transporting me to places for the past 13 years. Thank you for holding space for me. You've worked hard for all these years. I treasure our time together." Then I came back to Blue Bird, got in, started its engine, and Dayne stood outside the dealership and saw me off until I drove out of the lot.

I am thankful to my good friend, April. She came to the dealership to be available if I had any questions as I signed all the official legal papers. She had purchased a Crosstrek a few years before me, so her getting it was my inspiration, too. She took all these photos shared on this blog post for my memory. It was nice to have a friend there sharing the moment I said goodbye to my longtime friend, Silver-lining, and said hi to my new friend, Blue Bird. Thank you, April!

I will take good care of this new friend, and I look forward to making new memories with Blue Bird.

----------- (Japanese) -----------

First time sitting inside


私は以前からスバルのクロストレック、アウトバック、フォレスターが好きでした。過去15年ほど、いつかはそれらの車に乗れたらいいなぁと思っていました。AWD(All Wheel Drive)(全輪駆動車)であることと、車高が高いからです。マウイ島の東側にあるハナという地域の、舗装されていない急勾配なドライブウェイは、以前の車では雨が降ると上ることができませんでしたが、クロストレックは問題なしです。

My old car's maintenance/repair receipts (I had up to 2008)

私は初めて、自分が車の最初のオーナーになることを考えました。今までで一番高い買い物になるわけですから、かなり緊張しました。車のモデルや金融・ローンのことなど、細かいところまで知りたいと思いました。そこで、私は徹底的に下調べをしました。 知識と比較のために、スバル以外のディーラーにも足を運びました(他のメーカーも真剣に検討しました)。そして「よし!」と決めるまで、マウイ島にある唯一のスバルのディーラーに4回足を運びました。

私を担当してくれた、営業担当のDayneさんは、訪問する度に(アポイントの有無にかかわらず)、「ああ、また彼女か」というような苛立ちを微塵とも見せることなく、私の質問に根気よく答えてくれました。彼は、「大きな買い物なのだから、あかりのように色々と質問をするのは大切なことだよ 。」と言ってくれました。また、メールやテキストメッセージでの対応も非常に良かったです。私の質問や懸念にすべて答えてくれたので、私はスバルのクロストレックを購入することにしました。





私はクロストレックを 「ブルーバード」と名付けました。ブルーバードを引き取りにディーラーに行ったとき、以前乗っていた1999年式のホンダCR-Vを下取りに出しました。それは「シルバーライニング 」と名付けていました。(「希望の兆し」という意味です。)(車自体に価値はほぼありませんでしたが、個人売買で売るには安全面で人様に売る気持ちになれませんでしたし、下取りで引き取ってくれるというので、例え少額でもそうしてもらいました。)










Love Blossoming and Roaring 花咲かせ叫ぶ(おらぶ)愛

The day after my grandma's funeral (it was held on June 10, 2020; I attended virtually), I felt like calling my grandma's landline, knowing that she would not answer.

I just wanted to pretend to call her. Also, I knew that her landline would be canceled, so I wanted to call the number one last time. I listened to the same, usual ringing tone, thinking she would have answered the phone only a few days ago. 

Everyone, who called her, knew that you had to ring it for a while to give her enough time to get to the phone. So, it was my custom to listen to the ringing tone for some time. As I listened to it, I could vividly imagine her voice answering, "Hello?" 

Then, to my surprise, the ringing sound ceased, and a man's voice said, "Hello?" My first guess was my dad because he was there often. The day before grandma passed away, he was helping her doing some yard work. But, it did not sound like my dad, and the voice did not sound like any of my uncles, so I perplexedly asked, "Excuse me, but I don't recognize this voice. This is Akari. May I ask with whom I am speaking now?"

Then the man said, "It's me, your dad." 
"Oh, dad? Really? It didn't sound like you."
"You, too. You didn't sound like you. For a moment, I thought it was a "Me, Me" scam call." (In Japan, unfortunately, there have been incidents of young people calling older people, pretending to be their grandchildren by saying, "It's me, grandma, it's me," and asking for money.)

I jokingly told him, "This is your daughter, who passes gas around you without any hesitation." He laughed and said, "Now I know it's truly you!" (I am not sure if I like this way of verification, though :-D)

He said that he went to the grandma's house to take care of things like cooked rice, which she cooked but did not get to eat, and some laundry hanging outside. She had washed the work clothes he wore to help her the day before she died. 

I pictured him touching every item that his mother had touched only a few days ago. My heart got squeezed a little. The heart squeeze was probably also had to do with seeing myself in him dealing with the same thing someday. 

My maternal grandparents passed away when I was in my late teens. Due to lack of life experience, I don't think I was there for my mom the way I would now as a 38-year-old person. And I was too young to realistically imagine myself going through what she was going through in my near future. 

My dad and I spoke for about an hour. My dad and I usually talk once a week, but it was the longest we spoke. It was nice to talk about someone we dearly loved. 

At the end of the phone talk, painfully recognizing that people we dearly love will not exist forever, I felt the strong urge, so I followed it and told him, "Dad, I want you to know that I love you so much, and I am grateful to be your daughter." 

I started to cry as I said the first few words, feeling overwhelmed by love toward him and from him. When emotions surpass our words, tears come up. My grandma birthed my wonderful father and raised him. Then he met my wonderful mother, and they birthed me. 

As I hang up the phone, I felt theirs and my ancestors' love blossoming and roaring in my bloodstream. 

"Live! Live! Live! Love! Love! Love!" cheered and implored souls who have come and gone.

"Yes! Yes! Yes!" I cried back to their call.

Other posts about grandma:

(The photo of the phone above was taken by Alex Andrews. The photo of grandma below was taken by me.)

You can listen to this article's podcast episode at the following link. The episode number is #3.

(She was cleaning green onions.)


















Ordering Costumes and Saree 衣装とサリーを注文

This week happened to be a week to order my students' Odissi costumes and cotton saree for practice.

Two students who have been studying with me for the past 4, 5 years started wishing, "Someday, we'd like to have our costumes." We felt that the time has ripened to get one. It means a lot to have your own dance attire. One is that it means that a dancer has worked hard to the point and that she/he is committing her/himself to further learning.

I asked one of my teachers, Guru Vishnu Tattva Das of San Francisco, where/how I could get costumes (I got mine more than 10 years ago). Within five minutes of inquiry, one of his students, Mansi called me. I had met Mansi at Vishnuji's class in San Francisco before. She said that his students just placed an order, and I could squeeze in my students' order, too. What great timing! That night, I had a class with my students, so it was excellent timing in that sense, too.

Mansi sent me a measurement sheet. I printed it out and helped my students measure 16 different sections of their bodies. Then they picked two colors. Mansi sent us pictures of saree based on their color choice. Then my students chose the saree they liked. Then the order was officially placed.

Mansi has been the point of contact with tailors in Orissa (or written as Odisha) (where Odissi dance originated) in India for many years. She is from Bhubaneswar, Orissa, and speaks their language, Oriya. We were very grateful for her kindness in letting us squeeze in our order. We kept her up late until 1 am California time. (She wanted to place the order that evening to ensure that the tailors begin working on it to meet the shipping date.) Sorry to keep you so late and thank you so much, Mansi! When I apologized, she wrote back, "I am glad I could help other dancers."

My teacher, Sarala Dandekar's, and Vishnuji' have been sister/brother dance schools, so Mansi is like our "cousins." What a lovely dance cousin she is!

Also, this week, I ordered cotton practice saree for my beginner students from a company called Classical Dance Jewelry. They chose the colors they like. It is fun choosing a color. :-) They will begin dancing in saree!

For me, witnessing my students getting Odissi costumes or saree is like watching my precious children/sisters being wedded. It is touching to see. 

(Odissi dance is a temple dance, and dancers were considered married to gods a long time ago.) (I am not religious, but I respect all religions in the world, and I do believe in the source beyond, behind, and all around us.)

(Mansi just sent me the photos below. Wow, they're coming together!)













I hope to live up to her love 祖母の愛に見合えますように

(Photo by Hiroyuki Kuma at Uchikoza, Ehime, Japan)

When we hit our pinky toe against a corner of the furniture, we curl up, focus on our breaths, and disperse the pain in our mind and body, right?

Well, that's what I did for two weeks in June 2020 because my grandmother passed away.

A solid rock in my heart fell off, and there was void. When I moved, the wind blew in the hole, and it hurt. I observed myself going through this human experience called grief.

I wanted to be happy for her, for she had lived a full life, and I knew that she is now everywhere, and I can "see" her anytime. But sadness was sadness, and it had to be experienced.

As sad as I was, I was grateful for the experience as it pushed my envelope. Perhaps, it will make me better at relating to others who lost their loved ones. Perhaps, it will add a new color to my "life palette" and let me draw a new "painting."

I knew she would go someday as she was 96 years old.

In January 2020, when I saw her in Japan, I felt that her "candle" inside her was getting shorter and dimmer. I had a slight notion that it might become the last time I see her, so I hugged her and told her, "Grandma, thank you for passing your life onto me. Thank you for loving me." I’ve done it for the past ten years each time I left Japan, but I did it again with all my sincerity. 

So, I thought I had prepared myself for the finality, but when I found it out from my dad, my mind froze for a second, and it took me some time to grok what it meant.

She went while she was cleaning onions she had harvested. She was doing something she loved until the very end while she lived by herself in Japan's rural mountain. She was truly my role model and hero.

Last year, I allowed myself to take time to come to terms with her death.

Now, when I cry, it's not due to the sadness of not being able to hug her in the three-dimensional form. It is due to overwhelming appreciation toward her - the life she has passed on to me and the love she has poured over me. 

I hope to live up to her love.

You can listen to this article's podcast episode at the following link. The episode number is #2.


(Grandma and me age 2)















A New Beginning 新しい始まり

I started my blog back in 2006.

There was no Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

To stay in touch with my family and friends overseas, I relied on email. I used to think, "Wouldn't it be nice if f there was a platform where I could post photos and write, and my friends and family can go there to see what I'm up to whenever they want?" 

Then I learned that there was this thing called a blog! So, I started one.

Then in 2014, I stopped, not because I wanted to stop. I simply did not have time and could not afford to carve out time. 

In 2014, I made a fairly big decision to leave my full-time school teacher position - a secure income source. (I will write about that time another time.) I started building my own business

For the past seven years, I have put my head down and hustled. Thanks to every mentor, friend, and customer/client, my "then-baby" (a.k.a my business) has been growing. It is like the "baby" is starting to go to a preschool, and I can have a little more time to myself!

Although my business is still growing, and I have a new exciting project coming up (I will announce soon), I finally seem to be able to pop my head out of the water and breath. 

So, I decided to resume my blog. 

Although I didn't plan on it, I feel auspicious being able to start a new thing in this season filled with new lives.

(Photo above is an orchid pot given to me by my student, and it's been flowering every year - a reminder of time and growth.)

You can listen to this article's podcast episode at the following link. The episode number is #1.