Thursday, 18 May 2017

With Yoshino

A whole afternoon with my Japanese sister Yoshino in her neighborhood Nishi-Ogikubo. We had been talking about it for quite some time and it only happened today. I had been to Koenji last year with Yuichi and was quite enchanted by the area. Yoshino was certain I would love Nishi-Ogikubo even more.

“I have a present for you, Yoshino said after lunch, but we have to go to this tea shop. I hope they’re there…”   

A jovial, bespectacled man with long grey hair attached in a bun was sitting on a bench in front of the shop.  
”He’s an artist”, Yoshino told me.

The man stood up to greet me with a luminous smile.

”He does cut out portraits. He will do yours. That’s my present” Yoshino added.

I was invited to sit on the bench. The man took out his scissors and a square shaped piece of paper. He was humming and talking to himself as he was looking at me and cutting the paper in quick, precise movements. The result came just a few minutes afterward. Not quite looking like me. 

“It looks more like Chan!”  Yoshino remarked. 
”Not the hair! The hair here is definitely mine!” We both laughed. 
I was nonetheless very grateful for this gift.
Before I left, I was given a fortune cookie. It said “Be carefree in your life”. Exactly what the gods at the BaoAn temple said to me. There is no coincidence. I have to trust it more and more. 

Yoshino took me to a gallery shop displaying local artists’ work, photographs, music instruments, ceramic, CDs… I allowed myself a photozine about Tokyo – maybe I could submit some of my own photos for its next publication…?, antique shops – no, no, no and no! I shall not yield, bookstores – one of them a children bookstore where I discovered the wonderful work of Tada Jun an illustrator friend of Yoshino’s. Strange, but not surprising now to me, when I find myself in a shop and an invisible force pushes me toward a particular item that is to become part of my life. There was no question whether I liked Tada’s work. It not only spoke to me, I felt I had reacquainted myself again with a long forgotten memory. 

We walked up to a park with two large ponds, surrounded by woods. The peaceful atmosphere, the beautiful residential houses, the meandering streets and alleys eased my mind. I was enjoying myself. “Just as the fortune cookie told you” Yoshino said with a smile. 
I was happy to spend this time with her.
A long time ago, her father Masato was having hope Yoshino would marry whether my brother or me. Even if it did not happen, I could feel Masato’s beaming presence with us as we were walking silently on the street of Nishi-Ogikubo.

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