Monday, 14 March 2011

Japan, my heart

Yes, spring has come

This morning a nameless hill

Is shrouded in mist.

- Basho



I'm not normally a poetry type of girl, but sometimes less is more. My heart is with Japan right now, a country that, for some strange reason, nestled into the soul of a little girl in Seattle over twenty years ago.

In third grade I begged my parents to let me take Japanese. And violin, though I feared at age seven I would be starting too late. I was the Asian mother's dream.

At sixteen, while most girls dreamed of Paris, I dreamed of Kyoto. I spent the summer before senior year in the mountains of Gunma, cycling around the rice paddies, practicing calligraphy with my host sisters and generally being in my element. 

Even in Albania when I was 19, so far from that island nation, an old Kosovar refugee woman gave me a ring inscribed with the Chinese characters the Japanese language adopted. I later translated it:  Don't forget me.

I met my husband in a forest in Kobe. While teaching young Japanese how to say such useful words as apple, cat and sleep, I let Japan in even more. This place taught me form, tradition and grace, which I never quite mastered, despite my efforts.

I walked down the aisle to taiko drums. Every time I try to write about England, I write about Japan.

This is cheesy, but Japan is my heart. It runs deep.

The people I am still in touch with are safe, but shocked. I received an email yesterday from a friend who is now teaching English in the north. She shared this verse from the Psalms.

''Have mercy on me, my God, have mercy on me,
   for in you I take refuge.
I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings
   until the disaster has passed.''

- Psalm 57:1

I have not forgotten Japan, and I know that God has not either. Right now, as cherry blossoms bloom in Seattle, I pray for this country I love, across the Pacific.


{Photo via flicrk by joel abroad}

5 comments:

Nadine said...

Beautiful and perfect post Alisha. My heart is with Japan as well.

Jocy May said...

This brought a tear to my eye. I've been thinking of you and Thom throughout this whole disaster- even though neither of you live there, I know Japan is never far from your hearts. Love to you and yours.

Katie Anderson said...

Not cheesy at all. Beautiful post.

Marian Schembari said...

I love this. I have zero connection to Japan, but this post really touched me. We all have that place that is "our heart" and I'm sorry about what happened to yours.

alisha said...

Thanks for the Japan love guys. :)

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