Essay - from Peco

The story of my early life

drawing: Kimi-san and Msao-san
Kimi-san and Msao-san
I was born as the youngest child of five brothers and sisters. My father Masao was born in the Meiji Era (the name of a Japanese era from 1868 to 1912) as the third child of five brothers and sisters. My mother Kimi was born in the first year of Taisho Era (the name of a Japanese era from 1912 to 1926) as the eldest daughter.

Masao was fond of Kendo and Utai (Noh chanting) since he was young. He also liked Shigin (recitation of a Chinese poem) in his later years. He was very gentleman. He had good manners and a meticulous nature. On the contrary, one may say that he was inflexible and irresolute. As I was the youngest child, I've never been scolded by my fathe. He doted on me, so I grew wilful. "The child is father of the man" As the proverb says, I couldn't grow out of my selfishness. My parter Tomi-chan think I am a problem woman. And I think so, too. However I assume a defiant attitude and say "This is my personality!"

Kimi loved flower and she was a professional housewife. She had reliable and honest personality. She had a strong sense of justice but it also says that she lacked flexibility and had violent temper. I have inherited, if anything, my mother's personality.

Drawing: Peco-san
My name "Yasuko" consists of house and woman in kanji. My parents named me with wish peaceful to me.However, the ideal differ from the reality, and therefore hopes have risen? Tomi-chan says "Yasuko" join the first letter of "Ya" of Yancha (naughty) and "Su" of Suekko (the youngest child) and "Ko" of Kourusai (meddlesome)

When I was child, I was praised like "You are naive and unsophisticated". I admit "I'm pampered child and I get lonely easily and I'm crybaby" And I'd rather chat than eat.

Drawing: Tomi-san
I say Tomi-chan "Hey! Tomi-chan, can you hear me? Can't you hear me, can you? Just listen!" I often beat the air and make a great fuss all by myself about nothing like this.

My friend says that my name means "not economical" (character of "Yasu" also means inexpensive). I'm greedy and shopping lover, and I have to declare "My principles in life is simple..." I like pottery, chinaware and antique,and I spent all the money until the purse become empty.

I've hospitalized many times since I was child. As the number of days I have attended school are at the very limit, I barely finished school. And I've gotten weak constitution and strong-mind, and besides, I also have poor chicken-heart.

Another friend says "You likes to do things for others, and so you'll be chosen to take part in the world busybody competition." "If you live in old-people's home in your old age, you'll surely change other's diapers with your diaper trail along the floor."

My hobbies are cooking, traveling, skiing, swimming, hiking, seeing play, listening to music, seeing movies and my favorite one is chat. Please remember me!


"Shindo-Fuji" and "Chisan-Chisho"

Drawing: Plowing man
Plowing man
My father told me, "If you have foods which is produced within 3 ri around, you'll not come down with an illness" What is the origin of this phrase? I looked up this word in food dictionary or proverb dictionary... but I couldn't find...

Recently, I read "the search for Shindo-Fuji (written by YAMASHITA, Souichi)". At last, I discovered the origin of my father's word in this book. I devoured this book. This phrase is quoted from the Buddhist literature in the first time. This is proved by National Agricultural Cooperative Federation, South Korea. "3 ri around" is suitable distance that we can walk to. And to eat foods which is produced within those area is quite self-sufficiency.

As we pursue delicious foods and use home delivery service, many tracks belch its exhaust fumes into the air, garbage for packing turns out, and electricity is being wasted. How arrogant we are! These days I reflect on myself...

Drawing: Summer vegetables
Summer vegetables
This Summer, we planted various Summer vegetables seedlings such as three tomatoes, one mini-tomatoes, eight eggplants, three cucumbers, four green peppers, three Japanese pumpkins, beefsteak plant and small sweet pepper in our small organic field.

The autumn eggplants which have peculiar flavor are very useful as a pickles, simmered dish or sauteed dish. Four green peppers surprised me with its good harvest. They produced a lot of fruit one after another until late Autumn. There was still harvest which filled the big bamboo colander around the middle of November! And so we missed the chance to plant winter vegetables seedlings like a radish or turnip... Hmm... Sure enough, it is due to global warming... Although I thank to blessings of heaven and earth, it fills me with dread.

Some days ago, I participated in the seminar of UCHIHASHI, Katsuto (economist). He talked about agricultural policy or food situation in European countries. I was very surprised! The Rate of Food Self-Sufficiency is 300 % in Denmark! I've known this agricultural nation supply foods for not only own country but also foreign.

I wish very much to live a steady life with adapting myself to the nature.


Brazier "Hibachi" part 1

Drawing: baking rice cake on charcoal
baking rice cake on charcoal
A northerly wind blew autumn leaves off and the cold weather has set in. I automatically warm my hands over a steam which is rising from an iron kettle on a brazier. Poco (cat) is curling up asleep on a cat board "Neko-ita" of the brazier. My daughter, Chihiro can't seem to forget the taste for rice cake which grandpa grilled when she went to see my parents' house. Now It is her who take care of charcoal or ash in my house. The iron kettle which is hissing is my father's favorite one. The warmth, mildness and smell of charcoal fire, and the sound of steam from the iron kettle make me feel a great peace of mind. I'll tell some stories concerning brazier...

Drawing: Hasa-gake (hang rice for dring)
Hasa-gake (hang rice for dring)
- about straw "Wara" -
At the Shouwa Era (the name of a Japanese era from 1926 to 1988), my father produced Buddhist altar fittings with many workmen in a small-scale factory in a town. The rice straw was essential for molding. My father said the fire of rice straw was better than the gas flame to founding. And he also said the straw which was produced in the paddy field among mountains was the strong and powerful.

By the way, the straw that was usefull in my father's work became to ashes which were black, soft and very beautiful. Several days after bundles of straw were arrived after the rice harvest, my father brought back plenty of straw ashes delightedly. It is my heartwarming memory in Autumn day.

Before a spring festival, we re-covered the tatami in my house. I asked a workman to judge which tatami needed to turn over, to renew the surface or to make new. Well then, where some disused tatami mats go? They transformed themselves into straw ashes. We utilized these old tatami which had used for approximately fifty years. We tried making of straw ashes with blackening our nostril. The tatami which is made of only straw is valuables nowadays.

The tatami which has been produced from Japanese rice culture should have been recyclable product. But now 90 % of tatami is made of a board that is made from styrene foam and sawdust, and mat which wrap it. I'm afraid if these tatami burn by fire, they'll let to occur a toxic substance like a dioxin...

It is certain that old tatami is very heavy, however threadbare tatami is recycled as a soft straw ashes and plays a part in brazier. Besides, straw ashes which is used in brazier are utilized for manure on our kitchen garden, too. Ash helps the growth of vegetables. I have to take my hat off to predecessors who have wisdom of recycling completely like this.

Workman was delighted very much. He said "Unfortunately, these days few customers make an order tatami which is made of only straw, and I don't have opportunity to show my skill." "So I'm very glad to accept your orders, besides, how wonderful that you recycle old tatami !!" He cut tatami into small pieces for us so that we could easy to burn.The science has been developed and a modern convenience keeps on increasing. I don't know whether we really need these new products... I think such as thing in this re-covering tatami.

Not only I feel sad, but also I have a sense of impending crisis to Japanese culture that is lost from our daily life. I hope that workman like a Italian or German meister will can live proudly.


Brazier "Hibachi" part 2

Drawing: keepsake brazier from my father
keepsake brazier from my father
In my childhood, my family and I sat around the brazier, and used to grill a ginkgo nut or chestnut. Grilled sliced rice cake which was hanged by sedgy cord and dried was crunchy and gave off a fragrant smell. In New Year's Day, grandchildren were all waiting impatiently for rice cake with a black soybean or dried kelp which grandpa grilled for them. And my mother's hands like magician, they untied frayed spot of sweater and made straight and fluffy yarn again with exposing quickly to steam from iron kettle, then they did invisible mending by a crochet hook in an instant...

After my parents brought up their five children, they reached old age. They faced each other across the brazier, and said "Although a proverb says the one who eat directly from small earthen pot can't success in life, I can't stop... " "yeah, yeah", and they picked food from the same pot harmony with each other. I look back on its scene of the meal with nostalgia.

This small brazier was suitable for cozy living room in my parents home. As many workmen came to my house, my father faced caller across this brazier and offered tea. The conversation became lively. Close friends or neighbors also came frequently, and they consulted with my mother who was a good listener and counselor. It was really a sweet pleasure that she pondered with leveling the ashes or adding charcoal to the fire.

My parents were blessed with five children and twelve grandchilden. My mother lived to be eighty and my father to be ninety. After all children grew up and left home, each of the children often came together in parents' house with their family at the New Year, spring festival, Bon festival and so on... We all gathered around brazier in the living room and smacked our lips over dinner. There seems to be no end of memories concerning this brazier...

My mother who loved gardening planted geranium into an earthen brazier which was big and blue. Now its geranium bloom and delight the eyes of passerby in my house. We also plant water lily in an old earthen brazier. There is also an oblong slabed wooden brazier with drawers which Chihiro got from a curio shop in Wajima. We've got also some small braziers on which we warm our hands. There are various braziers here and there in my house.


Brazier "Hibachi" part 3

Drawing: After making a film
After making a film
One day, a description of brazier in this web site caught TV director's eye and she got in touch with me by e-mail. She said that she was now planing a program about brazier and she wanted about one in my house. I sent her a reply my memories about brazier. She replied that she wanted to interview us. Thus she came from Tokyo. My hasband, Tomi-chan cleaned a room voluntarily. I weeded a garden where was overgrown with weeds and liverwort during Summer. It was October 9, 2000.

We decided on set the 14th of October as the dates of the making a film. And then, we welcomed TV crew to my house. Filming was going well without NG. Full of admiration, we watched their professional works such as filming, recording and lighting. They devoted a whole day to making a film which would be televised for approximately four minutes! We were all impressed by their enthusiasm for creation.

Because it was program for high-definition television and we didn't have its expensive TV set yet, our friend who have it invited us. But we ware very busy with our work and leisure and we slept like a log on the very day of telecasting, so that we didn't went to watch the program. Friend praised "Chihiro's coolness and Yasuko and Tomio's narration was nice." On rebroadcasting day that was the last day of the twentieth century, we enjoyed with a pounding heart.

Because it was program for high-definition television and we didn't have its expensive TV set yet, our friend who have it invited us. But we ware very busy with our work and leisure and we slept like a log on the very day of telecasting, so that we didn't went to watch the program. Friend praised "Chihiro's coolness and Yasuko and Tomio's narration was nice." On rebroadcasting day that was the last day of the twentieth century, we enjoyed with a pounding heart.

What a pity that we pasue so convenience and efficiency that we lost our Japanese life-style! I think that they'll also take up goodness of Japanese culture like a wood, paper, iron or rice in this valuable program "This wonderful things". Let's toast their activity from now on!

Highslide JS
Make a film of keepsake from grand-ma
Highslide JS
Tense look?
Highslide JS
(2000-10-14 / stuff of TV)


Tsuri-baka Nisshi 13

I saw Japanese comedy film "Tsuri-baka Nisshi 13". A movie theater is located at 7 or 8 min. by car. Usually there is only a small audience just like a private theater. But this movie draw a large audience. It may be effective to cut admission fee to 1,000 yen (usually 1,700 yen). The good points of Toyama was impressed very well and the pace of the story is nice. The audience was filled with laugh. The wonderful natural view such as sea, Mt. Tateyama and Mt. Tsurugi and beautiful rural landscape appeared on the wide screen. The water is good, therefore the rice and sake and seafood is good. Do watch this movie. If you don't, you'll be sorry later!


Doyo-boshi (dry ume plum in the sun)

After the rainy season was over, the weather has been somewhat unsettled and it rained like a squall yesterday, too. But It is very fine today ! The long-awaited Doyo-boshi !! According to the rainfall probability forecast, it will be fine tomorrow and the day after tomorrow. Besides, it's weekend. No day but today. I carefully spread out all over the bamboo colander one by one with wiping the perspiration off. Ume plum must wrinkle well under this blazed sun.


My vegetable garden is fine

My vegetable garden is full of vitality in spite of this heat. The cucumbers had poor harvest last year, but they have continued to produce fruit this Summer. Sometimes I find the cucumber like a sponge gourd... The green bean which I seed at my first time and the hyacinth bean which I don't remember to seed are also good harvest. Each of them are soft and sweet! I dress them with sesame paste and eat every day. The garden-fresh eggplants in the morning are pickled with salt or rice bran. I also saute them with green pepper and miso, or simmer them with deep-fried bean curd. I like cooled dish of simmered one, too!


The returns from cucumber?

There was a good harvest this morning, too. A heap of eggplant, cucumber, green pepper, tomato and leek in the two bamboo colanders, especially cucumber deserves special mention. Owing to burning hot by day and mild by night, cucumber is full of vitality. I made pickles, vinegared dish and simmered dish using big ones that I carelessly forgot to harvest and became like a sponge gourd. There was such a good harvest, I shared out my friends or neighbor. To tell the truth, when I planted seedlings, they attacked by pill bug and become almost extinct. I tried new seedlings again. I patroled in the middle of the night and lured pill bug into potato. And they grew up quickly and healthily. Compared with last season, there is twice harvest.


Good-bye azuki ice lolly

There was an ice lolly which I enjoyed every Summer. It was handmade one using good azuki beans and thick milk by the small sweetshop in my town. Yesterday I went to buy it with singing snatches "If I don't eat adzuki ice lolly, Summer will never come..." But the confectioner said with downcast eyes "The machine is out of order and the estimate for repair isn't worth the expense. If I had the successor..." I was heartsick over the loss of popular sweets by such a good workman and my shoulders dropped. I feel my Summer stop halfway.