I have been toying with the idea of having themed blog entries ever since I started my blog. I like them when I tune in to other people’s blogs. That said, I didn’t want to do it ‘just to do it’. I wanted it to mean something to me, or it wouldn’t mean anything to anyone else.
I am going to start Friday Love Letters. Each Friday I’ll write a love letter to someone or something that has made my life better.
Friday, March 23
I love Japan. I haven’t set foot on the island of Honshu since 1965, when I was twelve years old, but it formed a part of my childhood. I spent about three years there, that’s all. But I can shut my eyes and see the sun setting over the Ginza in Yokohama, turning everything warm and molten in the golden light. I see the old Japanese women hurrying home with their parcels stuffed into the sleeves of their kimonos.
I can still smell the spicy smells of the marketplace, the salty fish and bags of rice, the candy and the sandalwood scents of the incense.
Japan was simultaneously horribly crowded and peaceful, safe and mysterious. I never felt as safe in my life as I did there, in that time, but I was also aware that many of my friends fathers didn’t want a gaijin in their homes. I don’t blame them. Americans can’t really imagine life as a conquered nation, and these men, when they had been young men, had probably fought for their country. I couldn’t say I wasn’t gaijin, but I would pull my eyelids down with my fingers looking in the mirror, trying to imagine being really Japanese.
Of course I had to leave, although I cried for a month before I stepped aboard the ship and six months after. I kept believing that if I prayed hard enough, something would happen and I could stay.
Now, I am well past the halfway point of my life. I’ve raised sons and daughters, one of whom is as enamored with Japan as I was, even though she’s never been there. As I sit at my desk adorned with my statue of the Goddess of Mercy and a tiny Kamakura Buddha, I can see that my voyage across the years hasn’t really taken me so far, not if I can shut my eyes and still see the torii in the distance.