Nagasaki: A week with obachan

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Later this week I’ll get to see her dance! She moves like a 70 year old and has insisted on cooking all my meals and ensuring my relatives take me out to town every day.

Japanese grandmother is nearing 90 years of age. Despite her advanced age, she is quite spry and dances on a regular basis. I’m blessed to stay in her house in Nagasaki, inhaling memories as I breath in the dusty motes floating about her living room.

The house is merely a leap and a bound from the 1945 nuclear bomb hypo-center, and I am currently writing in the Atomic Bomb Museum nearby, since she hasn’t an internet connection. The content of the museum is terrifying in its intimacy, and brings up strong emotions, especially since I am surrounded by museum visitors who do not have a family connection to this place of tragedy and war. I have been to dozens and dozens of museums in my lifetime and this is one of the first in which my family history is being represented. Emotions cannot adequately be expressed with words, only art will do.

On a less serious note, I have been roaming the city in search of a decent internet connection for what seems like ages, and have finally settled into this little cafe nook by a glass wall overlooking a gorgeously designed waterfall. Thankfully, I’ve spent most of my time with my relatives or relaxing with obachan in front of the telebe (besides dancing, her favourite past-time, I suppose it keeps her company when her progeny isn’t visiting).

Before bedtime, I thumb through dusty albums full of photos of Mom when she was young and smile at the cheesy grin she spots in every photography. She really did have a moon face when she was young (well, she still does). My aunts and uncles insist I strongly resemble her.

As I drift off, I scan through my old diary entries, astounded by the workload I bore throughout my time as a Reed College junior & senior. My diary entries are equally poetic and exhausted, the result of fast-paced days imbedded within academia. It seems crazy that I want to go back to that kind of culture to get my PhD, but that is what I’d like to do!

Mom hasn’t really kept in touch with her family back here, and the last time I came by was about 7 years ago when I was really chubby and introverted. Now I’m here as an adult, representing the American side of the family. I’m so happy to be here, and eager to tear my hands and face away blogging to return to obachan‘s house. It goes unspoken that this is one of the last times I will be able to visit Grandma Yuriko before she passes on.

Suffice to say, visiting Japan has strengthened my bond to my birth country.

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Miku and Aunt Yukoku and I stroll through Dejima’s harbor next to a long line or open-faced restaurants. We land in a nearby mall to eat soba, sashimi, and waffles slathered with mochi, ice cream, and juicy strawberries. Aunt Yukoku isn’t used to walking so much, so we took frequent rest stops. I stocked up on COPIC markers at the stationery store since those things are way overpriced in America.

PS: Each photo below has a descriptive caption. Click to enlarge.



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