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Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Red Sunrise

We awoke at 5:15 am and Erika announced, "Look the sun's red!"
"Quick, get the camera!" I ordered. Capturing that special moment gave me a reason to reflect.

The red sunrise reminded me that I live in Japan. That might sound strange since I’m immersed in Japanese society. Living in the countryside gives me an opportunity to “get away”. The scenery reminds me of Napa Valley, California. When the evening fog rolls in, I swear that I’m back in Green Valley. All that is missing are the wineries…the traffic…the noise. There are no billboards to display Japanese characters. All of the homes in Tsukahara Highlands are either log cabins or western style architecture. Just by looking out the window, there is no way to tell where I am. The red sun (the symbol of the Japanese flag) is a stark reminder of my Japanese existence.

When I lived in the Seattle area, I often found myself asking Erika, “Does this feel like home?” She would reply. “Of course! This is where you and the doggies live.” Each time I would respond by saying, “Nope, this doesn’t feel like home. I feel like I’m living in a hotel and just visiting.” For seven long years, I felt this way. I couldn’t put my finger on why this was so. The answer became clear as I began to make Japan my home. It was all about making choices. Choices? Yes, choices.

I purchased my first home in 1995. I had lived there for almost 6 years. During that time, my backyard neighbor had driven me nuts. A long story made short, I moved because the neighbor decided to raise 10 Akita’s in his backyard. My second home was in Green Valley. I lived there for over three years. Erika and I built a Japanese garden. We had plans of living there for many years. Unfortunately, my workplace closed an office in the Bay Area thus forcing me to relocate. It was heartbreaking to leave those beautiful nishikigoi. Do you see a pattern forming here?

I never really wanted to move from either location…I had to in order to keep my sanity and to keep food on the table. Leaving Green Valley left a bad taste in my mouth. I refused to call Seattle my home. It was my choice to leave Seattle. It was my choice to leave my career. It was my choice to make a change. Did I choose wisely? Only time will tell. So far, so great. I chose to take control of my life and did something about it.

BTW, I haven’t asked Erika if Tsukahara feels like home. Why? Simply put…because I chose to live here and I know it is.   George


  1. Good grief, 10 akitas?! Was he running a puppy-mill or something? 0.o
    What a beautiful garden, you must have been devastated to leave. Having a choice makes a big difference, doesn't it?

    1. Later, after we reported him to the police, we found out that he had guns and was a drug dealer. I think we fled that house rather than moved.

      The garden took us two years to build. The pond was 6 feet deep and held 6000 gallons of water. Everything was dug by hand. We planted 500+ bushes and trees. It still hurts to think about it. When I Google Map the house, the garden and pond are still there.

      The only thing better than having a choice is making a decision, especially if it involves change.