Saturday, May 12, 2007


I got a lovely e-mail yesterday from a California woman who visited my Web site of photos I took while living in Japan.

Her mother, who was born in the same small, rural farming town in which I lived, married an American GI following World War II. This is quite a coincidence because the town is very small. The woman believes her mother may have been married at one of the small Shinto shrines I photographed. The woman is preparing for a trip back to this town with her mother and her children, who will meet their cousins for the first time. The woman has few close relatives in America on her husband's side, so she feels especially close to her kin in Japan.

Receiving her e-mail rekindled all sorts of memories of my years in Japan. It especially brought back memories of the wall of culture shock I felt upon first arriving in Japan, made even more daunting by the rural area in which I found myself. I grew to resent the town, its inhabitants, its location -- in short, everything about it.

As I gradually became more flexible (beating my head against a wall got me only so far), I came to love, to truly love, living in the countryside. It's these memories that keep me going some days.

Over the past decade, I believe I have matured enough and become circumspect enough to make the most now of an opportunity such as the one I had of living in a small Japanese farming town.

Of course, I can't revisit the past. I had my chance. Eventually, I came to get the most out of it with the abilities and outlook I had at the time.

This woman's e-mail brought me back at light speed to a very special time and a very special place. It also reminded me of just how interconnected everything and everyone is.


east village idiot said...

What a beautiful post. Your time in Japan deeply influenced your life - I enjoy reading about it. I haven't traveled abroad very much - I just don't think I have the skills to be good at it - which is why I appreciate your stories.

Michael said...


I think you would love traveling abroad. Why would you think you lack the skills?

Many thanks for your kind words, as always...

east village idiot said...

Michael -

I have absolutely no aptitude for other languages! Pretty odd when you consider the fact I grew up in a house where my mother, grandmother and other relatives constantly spoke Italian around me.

Much to my regret, I don't have a great command over the English language so the thought of tackling another one terrifies me.

By virtue of your professional skills (and your writing), it's clear that you understand words and language very well. You're so lucky!

It's hard for me to be in countries where I can't speak the language. I feel like a kid looking through the window of a toy store. Pretty ridiculous but true!

Michael said...

But it's so obvious from your writing that you speak the language of love and compassion. What are words compared to that?

Michael said...

(My last comment makes it seem like I'm agreeing with your harsh opinion of your language skills. I'm doing no such thing. I think you're a compelling writer and I love visiting your blog. My point is, when it comes to traveling abroad, words can get you only so far. It's all about vibes after that. :) )

east village idiot said...

Thank you. Thank you very much for making those comments.

On a lighter note, a dear teacher of mine once warned me not to join the Peace Corp. for fear that most of the developing world would misunderstand my took me a while to understand that advice.

Michael said...


Zen said...

It is a small world...surprising at time when path cross and we see the connections of the the Tao

Michael said...

What's that saying? Something like, be kind to the people you meet on the way up, because you'll likely meet them again on the way down.