About Me

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California born by a Cuban mother, married to a Japanese man, and have lived in Japan since 2004, minus one year living in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. I have friends and family in many places in the world. I dreamed of traveling to many distant lands, creating music and dancing to it, meeting interesting people, and discovering treasures in the most unlikely of places.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Winter Haiku

A few winters ago, my English club students wrote Haiku. It was really fun. They were so cute.

It inspired me, but I didn't finish the post until today when I found the draft. Here it is...

SURPRISE The castle view from afar, All warmed by winter sun, Glimpse of stolen kisses.

Professor Ken Yabuno

Some moments are lost, never to be remembered again. Others are etched into memory, never to be forgotten. The moment I saw Professor Ken Yabuno was one of those moments. I am unsure, but I feel as though perhaps it was for him as well. I was waiting for my interview with the school director to decide my future for the next few years, when he walked in front of me. He looked a little like a very kind, Japanese Einstein. But then I looked into his eyes. I felt as though I was looking into a mirror, which is a strange feeling when the person is so physically different. His kind eyes held mine as he walked past. At first interested, then questioning. I think he might have been wondering, "Where were you?" I was later told the truth about his speech. At first, they were kind, and told me that he had only talked about the university. But then a student told me that he had talked about things they way I had talked about Hundertwasser just a few weeks before. And as he talked, he had sketched a vision of Karatsu Castle, which was complete when he had finished. What beautiful symbolism, for a school of students just beginning, whose students will someday be important members of this society. A reflection of his contemplation that the stars in the ceiling in the auditorium at the university are a reflection of each of the students below. I wonder if any of the students at this school realized the connection between them and the beautiful castle.
In Okuma Auditorium, the central skylight of the ceiling contains the sun and the moon, and the smaller lighting fixtures are all stars. This creates the image that students are being watched over by things which are sacred and eternal. I believe that the ceiling is a symbol that students themselves, not Okuma Shigenobu, are the main characters of Waseda.
-Professor Ken Yabuno

I am writing this post as a response to his article Thinking About the Past and Future Drawing Cities Which “Don’t Exist Today”. He had been in Madrid, and a hugely influential museum for him was the Prado, as it was for me. For different reasons, he believed it impossible to be an artist... A strong interest in architecture and cities. And we believe in the interconnected nature of the disciplines. There were more... There were in fact, so many references to my own inner experience in this short life, that I now understand why I felt as though I were looking in a mirror, or that I already knew the person who I had seen. Perhaps it is possible to see yourself in someone else because of their experiences or their thoughts being similar to your own, without ever even speaking to them. That must have been it, there is really no other explanation. My deepest interests are a little different, but their base is essentially the same. I believe our similarities lie in architecture, art, and the connection of the disciplines as being essential for true understanding of the world. My interest in green roofs and rooftop gardens must have begun long ago. There a was a period of sublime development that went unchecked in my mind. As a small child, I built stick houses on the beach, and never forgot that joy. But it wasn't then. Nor was it when I discovered Japanese art, and it's reflection in a possible future. And it wasn't when I made soap with herbs found on the roadside with my friend, and knew I would study elements of ethnobotany. Nor was it when I designed houses in high school, with courtyards, and pools coming into the master bedroom. But it was already quite developed when I volunteered for three months for Sustainable Monterey Bay, and designed apartment complexes for them, all having roof gardens, community spaces, and other passive design and sustainability elements, always working with nature. It could have been around the time when I first saw the Hunderwasser Haus, or when I discovered green building and passive design books at book stores in college... whenever it was, it forged a path into this time, this place, my present life with my passion for nature, buildings, people, and life. It is the river from which the source is a great desire to heal this Earth which we call home. If I ever have the chance, I would like to speak to Professor Yabuno. I would like to just sit, relaxed, over a cup of tea or a meal, and discuss life. The places where paths cross, where there is no time. The places inside our minds, and outside the walls. In the green, in the silver, in the blue, in the brown, in the rainbow. Begun 2012, Finished 2013

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Race Horses In the Japanese Countryside

Two years ago, Shinpei and I were driving around Saga randomly, off the beaten path. I saw many horses in pens, which is rare in Japan, so we went to take a look. The stables had "No Entrance" and "Stop!" signs all over the doors... so I was intrigued. The horses were all thoroughbreds and arabians, some huge, and a few who looked very, very sensitive and intelligent, and looked at us as though they wanted us to play with them or interact. I was struck by their majesty and obvious sensitivity and intelligence. There were three that I liked in particular, which when I spoke to them, looked up very curiously. One was at least 18 hands high, his dark brown head towering above the others. The other two were chestnut, and I will never forget the look of one of them, who was about 15 horses away. It looked so much like it wanted me to go to it. After a few moments of gazing at the lovely beasts warily, which were all quite well and very beautiful, a young man came around from the back. We asked him if we could look at the horses from the gate, and he said yes. We then asked why there were so many obviously expensive horses there. He said that they were being fattened up for horsemeat, and, get this, that they were former race horses (thus the VERY EXPENSIVE nature of them!), When they arrived, they would be fattened up in the stalls for three months and then would be butchered. Horsemeat is a delicacy in Japan, and eaten raw, not too differently from the way some people eat their beefsteak still dripping "rare". I am not making a statement about them being horses in particular, or not eating horse, because I think cows and pigs, and even chickens can be very sweet and become great pets. But I think it is a horrible shame, because they ARE pets already, trained and very well-bred to be so, and it is a horrible WASTE to eat them when they could live much longer lives and enrich ours in ways that we cannot even begin to imagine...for example, as per this article. I want to do this! I have never heard of anyone saving racehorses in Japan, but if Shinpei and I stay here, I would love to someday save some of those horses and give them a new home. There is a woman who writes about animals whose name is Temple Grandin and is autistic. She wrote in one of her books, I believe it was Animals in Translation, that she went to a special school where the students, who had emotional or other disorders, worked with the horses. It is also an interesting idea, and if someone were willing, could give the horses yet another reason (for humans) to (let them) live.