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gkimbal's Spring in Tsukahara album on Photobucket

Thursday, March 31, 2011


There are so many people from around the world sending messages to Japan. I found that many victims from Japan are sending messages to us. Most of them say, “Thank you for your help,” “I want to go to school,” and “I want to take a shower.”

I have never felt that I wanted to go to school and I never imagined that we, as Japanese, needed to yearn for a shower. Yet, as they struggle to survive, they are working hard to help each other.

When I went back to college in the U.S., I was upset because many of my classmates were irresponsible. Their words and promises sounded great, but their actions never matched their intentions. However, they were the first to claim someone else’s work. For example, I told them I didn’t want to come after school to do extra work because I had so much to do as a wife. They said that, “Teamwork,” was important and that we should all pitch in. The result was that I had waited for the others to show up, which no one did, and I completed the project myself. They had all kinds of excuses. When it was time for the presentation, they didn’t hesitate to say, “WE did it.” I was upset and complained to George, “Those people kept insisting that TEAMWORK was so important, but they didn’t do any of the work!” He said, “They are the team and you are the work. Just accept that. Think about it...who was smarter?” The same irresponsible behavior existed at all of the various U.S. companies that I worked for (but not everyone. I know that some people are much harder workers than I am). Well, I finally learned from the majority. Here again, can I be readopted to the Japanese culture? My mother already gave up on me. Luckily, my father passed away before I could disappoint him. Thanks to my brother and aunt, they haven’t given up on me and have tried to change my badly influenced behavior.

Every day, I spend time reading the stories from Japan of the victims’ experiences and find myself with tears. I hope I’m learning something as I read. It would be an honor to be able to learn the culture again before I get too old.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Friends - Tomodachi

One of my friends has been married for over five years. She has hid her marriage from her relatives. Her father was very ill and she didn’t want to shock him with the fact that she was married to an American. I understand her situation. She often traveled to Japan from the U.S to take care of her ailing father. Her father’s past away. I think her husband was very understanding to have allowed her to go to Japan so often and for such an extended period of time. Now, she goes back for her mother who already knows all the facts of her marriage. She has a closer relationship with her mother. When I heard the news that her husband was going to accompany her to Japan, I said, “That would be great. He deserves to learn more about the country where he is going to retire.” She, however, said that the marriage was still a secret because her mother wanted to have it that way. There are relatives, friends, and neighbors that don’t accept the marriage.

I was surprised to find that her husband will be required to remain undercover. The situation makes me feel uncomfortable…to know that her husband’s position is disrespected. I hid a relationship with an American when I was single. I understand how conservative Japan can be. Society can judge you and jeopardize your future, but it’s the 21st century and the marriage has been happily supported by her husband. I wonder what George would say if I did the same thing to him for several years. He would probably be very unhappy and doubt if he was good enough for me to be proud of or to stand up for.

When I had a war between my mother-in-law and myself, not once but three times, George was always on my side more than 200%. When the first war started, I had been trying to be more than the best Japanese wife by pretending to be very feminine, polite, smart, and obedient. This was a struggle since those characteristics are far from my natural character. Under stress from my mother-in-law and the American culture, I just became associated with, I screamed the B-word at her for the first time. George laughed at me and was so proud of me for showing guts by saying, “That’s my wife!” instead of being upset. I don’t cuss and I don’t allow anyone, including my husband, to use cuss words in my house. When the second war started, my mother-in-law said, “Erika, I didn’t yell at you, but at George. Why are you mad at me?” I said, “Remember, he is my husband at the same time he is your son. If you humiliate George, you humiliate me and I will back my husband 200%.” I don’t argue with my mother-in-law anymore. I just keep a safe distance until the conflict cools off. It took me one year to cool off from the third war.

I believe my friend and her husband respect each other, but it’s hard for me to picture the husband hiding in her hometown. He cannot be proudly introduced as her husband. I am sorry for him. I told the story to George and he asked, “Why don’t you tell her?” I said, “It’s none of my business as far as their relationship is okay and they are happy.” “Then why are you bothered so much?” he asked. “Because it seems disrespectful. When you call your friend a FRIEND, don’t you respect him/her as a friend?”  George said, “That’s why she can live in Japan, but you will have hard time there.” It’s very true, if she were my American friend, I would definitely open my big mouth.  

I had suffered for a long time when I was growing up in Japan. I was different from most Japanese children. I rebelled against the silly and outdated rules of Japanese society. In the U.S., I found I could be myself. I could speak my mind freely…sometimes too free. That’s one reason why I could get along with my mother-in-law, sometimes better than George. She speaks more freely than I do.  If my friends still keep me as a friend, I think I should appreciate them.

My verdict is that it’s not worth arguing about my friend’s decision. I’ll respect her way and worry about my own future in Japan.


Tuesday, March 22, 2011


A couple of days ago, the news from Japan said that there were so many people who felt motion sickness because of the hundreds of aftershocks. According to Yahoo Japanese News, as of 3/16, there have been a total of three 7.0+ magnitude, forty-nine 6.0+ magnitude and two hundred sixty three 5.0+ magnitude aftershocks. It’s usually big news when a 5.0 magnitude quake occurs, but recently the concentration of disasters has diluted any interest in smaller earthquakes.

There are so many people that have been rescued, but they are living without hope and enduring hunger. They were grateful to be rescued, but soon many of them realized that they lost everything. Some said they felt guilty to live because they were already old.

I still cannot enjoy daily life. I feel guilty to have any fun in my life. I don’t know why I feel tremendously depressed about the disaster in Japan. Maybe because I’m getting old???

I was asked if I was afraid to go back to Japan. Yes, if I had to live in the area that has been affected by radiation, but otherwise no. I face crime in the U.S. every day. The local news is full of stories about drugs, murder, and rape in my city. I believe I can protect myself only by locking myself inside my home. George is especially protective of me and he won’t allow me to drive in the city…According to him, I’m a crazy driver too. What’s the difference between being scared of a natural disaster or a society full of danger? Either way, I have to live until the end of my life.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Just do it.

We have been watching , along with the rest of the world, the disastrous events unfold in Japan. It’s heartbreaking to see so many people suffering and know that the end is nowhere in sight. Erika and I have felt anxious waiting to hear news about the current situation in Japan while knowing in the back of our minds; we haven’t done anything to help. We decided to do something rather than feeling sorry for the people of Japan…donating money to the American Red Cross instead of shedding tears.
I wanted to make sure our money was directed to the victims of the disaster. Erika chose the American Red Cross.
If you decide to do the same, please select “Japan Earthquake and Pacific Tsunami” and donate whatever you can. Thank you.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Ganbare Japan

George and I have been in shock since we heard the news about the tsunami, earthquake and nuclear reactors. We have been glued to the television and internet trying to gather whatever information we can about the disasters.  

I appreciate having so many friends, including my dentist, calling me to see if my family in Japan was okay. It is very comforting to know that there are so many people concerned about my country. I felt so guilty to find myself just sitting here in a nice warm, comfortable place with the plenty of food, unable to do anything for those people.

George and I have tears each time we see people lining up for food, without warm clothes, and who are looking for their loved ones. George always tells me not to ignore the problem, but rather face them and acknowledge that a serous problem exists. It is hard, very hard, and I have only tears. In the local newspaper from my hometown in Oita, I found that there are so many people who are donating their blood, which is urgently needed in the devastated area. People of all ages, including little kids, line up to donate money and blood. I feel I have learned a lot about my own country.

Look at this link. Now more rescue dogs are deploying to Japan.

Monday, March 7, 2011




Sunday, March 6, 2011


 I’ve been an avid woodworker for over the past 15 years. During this time,  I’ve had the pleasure of making decks, gates, sailplanes, bridges, shoji screens, picture frames, intarsia, kotatsu, and even koto stands. I think I enjoyed intarsia the most. Intarsia is the art of making pictures out of wood. Judy Gale Roberts has been a great inspiration to many people who have done intarsia.
Koto Stand

First attempt at intarsia

Zoom in on the teeth

Here’s a few examples of my work.
I was experimenting with combining two of my hobbies, woodworking and stained glass, and came up with some unique creations.
I would like to do an intarsia of my two dogs, but most of my woodworking equipment has been carefully packed away. I hope it won’t be too long before I can focus my attention on my hobbies after I move to Japan. Creating an intarsia of the spectacular view outside my window in Tsukahara is on my to-do list. Another hope is that I will be able to spark an interest and share how to make an intarsia. Most of my projects are made from Western Red Cedar, although some artists use a variety of woods to get the various colors.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Point Defiance Park

最近、週に一度はタコマ(Point Defiance Park)までピクニックに出かけます。一番の目的はもちろん犬たちの運動のためにです。アメリカ合衆国の市が運営する公園の内、この公園は2番目に大きいということです。一日かけて公園内を10キロ以上は歩いています。帰り着くころには犬も私たちもぐったりです。