After Christmas in the hospital, I got ready to go to a nearby nursing home for some physical therapy
and rest. That was quite a trip. The patients there were truly an assortment of characters, from the
grumpy old Mrs. T who never stopped complaining, to the very fun-loving Mrs. L: we had wheelchair
races down the hall!
The diet was pretty bad, full of starches and carbohydrates that were not needed, so there were a lot
of big people there. I asked the dietitian for something with more fresh vegetables, fruits, and
healthier foods. She was very solicitous and my diet improved from the next day. But I seemed to be
the only one with a different diet, and she sadly told me that she had tried many times to change diets
but people wanted comfort food!
One lovely thing there, was that they allowed my husband to stay in my room at least for a while. It
was truly a comfort badly needed. I went for some PT, and learned a little about my new state!
Then we moved on after three weeks to my friends Sunmi's house, where we laughed so much
and I felt so comfortable. That lasted several weeks until we made the move back to Vashon.
I had just put on my jacket to go home after my MRI, when suddenly the nurse ran out, shouting “Stop,
stop! Where are you going? You have to go straight to the hospital!!” So my ordeal began with my first operation to
cut out what they could of my brain cancer the next day. The operation lasted over 5 hrs and I thought that was
that was . I did NOT know what lay in front of me!
At first, I was given too many pills, including an anti-depressant, which I refused but the doctor said was essential. I
took about 2 weeks of that particular drug, but I felt extremely woozy and out of it. I thought it would be better to be
myself even if depressed, and who wouldn’t feel down at the news of brain cancer! So I stopped it, and felt glad
about that little step back to myself.
We spent Christmas in the hospital, not my idea of fun, but the staff made it as cheerful as possible. I had a
number of visitors to help, with Sivam and Manu at my side. At this point, I was still assuming I would go straight
home, and get back to my life with little change. Was I ever wrong!!
I listened to so many people tell with kamishibai, all over Japan, and was lucky enough to meet older performers like
Shiozaki Genichiro. He performed kamishibai until a war injury stopped him. But he shared his amazing collection,
of hundreds and hundreds of these wonderful cards that tell so many tales. He rented them out so that they spread
across Japan, and frequently gave some to places that needed them. When I visited him years ago in Osaka, he told
me why he shared this art…
“Japan was a defeated country after the war, and to build up the country, we have to be a
nation that talks with other countries. We can’t imitate other countries, but have to walk
the way of our own to ask for the truth. I wanted the child to be a person who can see a
wide world and think about Japan in the world. To spread love of homeland and develop
world friendship-- that is my kamishibai philosophy.”
On Mount Heia yesterday with Yukiko. For many years, I have wanted to walk on this sacred
mountain, reliving parts of the Heike Monagatari about the lives of powerful monks and students
who lived there. And here I was! It was so peaceful there, the mountain was misty as we walked past
stone statues, ferns, and gracious old trees. The bell of peace sounded at times and you could often
hear low chanting from the temple buildings. As we moved down the stone stairs we passed a
cheerful party and waved to them. Then Yukiko put a five yen coin down and tried to explain the
concept of goen (a kind of relationship). She said that you could put a five yen coin (go yen) for good
(goen) since they sounded similar!
As we retraced our steps, we met the same happy party and introduced ourselves. One of them was
Sachiko Maki, who’s written many children’s books and is now researching traditional medicine of
Japan for her next book. She pulled us to her car and presented me with two beautiful books, both
tales she had rewritten from the classic Konjaku Monogatari. And thus we had our own story of
(On Shikoku Island)
Enjoyed slurping some Sanuki Udon (delicious thick noodles), and then went to meet
with a local group of tellers, sharing stories and laughter. After that, we went to
the 84th of the 88 temples on the pilgrimage trail of the Sage Kobo Daishi. Next, we passed
stones of various sizes, shaped and unshaped, walked past greens of all kinds,
to the tiled roof home of Yoshidasan, a talented stone sculptor. There looking out
into the garden rich in sculptures, was a bunko home library. Books lined the walls and
colored streamers crossed the room, with swings outside: a child’s dream place.
Yoshidasan, who runs it, had an interesting story. At the age of four, his son became
autistic, while his grandmother was suffering from Alzheimer’s. So Yoshidasan left his job
as a high school teacher to be a house husband and care for his son and grandmother.
Thanks to his kind care, she died after peacefully after a while. And now, five years later,
the boy is better, the wife teaches still, and the husband runs a beautiful bunko!
It dies when it drinks water. fire
The red silk purse that has hundreds of coins. chili pepper
Hair is white when young, turns black when old. writing brush
The taller it grows, the more clothes it takes off. bamboo
A mother carries her children around her neck. coconut tree
A man makes money by burning what he makes. potter
Two boats with only one pilot. shoes
Planted in the early afternoon, harvested at dawn. stars
When this big rooster sees someone, it makes a big bow. teapot
Two pieces of bamboo drive ducks through a narrow door. eating rice with chopsticks
Eats fire and coal and drinks water. steam engine of a train
White hen with plenty of eggs. moon and stars