Friday, June 20, 2008

Deep and Wide

Today was Open Day at Guthrie's Kindergarten. She dressed up so she would not feel like such an American blob next to all the skinny moms in stilettos and tailored clothes. She was glad she did because sure enough, she sat between two elegant ladies on little kid chairs while the kids in Timothy Tiger class sang "deep and wide, deep and wide, there's a fountain flowing deep and wide...". The teachers had the moms guess which Aboriginal dot paintings their kids did and she guessed right, but Harper gave it away that morning when she dropped them off. Guthrie was so happy to see her there and she felt so proud and happy to be there.

She walked over to meet Hiroko, a woman from the Peace Institute who just published her first book - only in Japanese - on the U.S. cover-up and mis/dis-information after the A-bomb on the dangers and effects of radiation. David met them for lunch and they went to a traditional noodle shop and they slurped their way through divine soba and udon noodles with daikon, plum paste, wasabi, scallions, shrimp tempura. Hiroko is married to a meterologist in Tokyo - yet another peace couple who live far away from each other. They see each other twice a month. Hiroko seems completely committed to getting the truth out there about radiation and the A-bomb.

Yesterday, elin met another Japanese woman for lunch, Nami. Nami had photographed her while she made rubbings at the old bank and they got to talking. Nami took her to a very traditional noodle shop where the soba comes on big wooden trays and you dip it in the broth with gelatinous seaweed and wasabi. When the elevator door opens, you take off your shoes and step into a tiny room of 4 tables and sit on cushions on the tatami mat floor. Nami takes an English class once a week so they had some trouble communicating but the noodles were superb. Nami works in an architecture office. She works 6 days a week, 2 weeks a month and 5 days the other 2 weeks - 9am-6pm. She gets 4 days of vacation a year. She lives alone, seems tired, but serene and alive. She took her to Starbucks afterwards to meet another friend, a glass artist, Yoko. Yoko offers to take her to her funky studio and they go. It is a four story corrugated loft studio - 2 rivers over - on Oyster Street. Yoko simultaneously plays very old Japanese music that could be a soundtrack for a horror film and a dvd about Leni Reifenstahl's trips to Africa as they look at Yoko's photographs from her trips to Kiribati Island and Burma. There are two cats and the windows are closed so it is a bit sticky and there is hot tea. It has been pouring out for hours. Maybe this is finally the beginning of rainy season. She feels dizzy but does not want to be rude. One cat wears a baby diaper crisscross clipped over his shoulders. Tailless, she was a stray that Yoko saved. The other cat, all black, reminds her of Bilou and she misses him. Yoko makes glass chandeliers, public sculptures and stained glass in churches, but also does performances in blacklights with polka dots and feathers - very Yayoi Kusama, whom they both love. This feels like surrealism in Japan.
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