Dream of the Water Children: The Black Pacific

Mizuko and Yokohama Mary

In 2005, a documentary /movie was released named “Yokohama Mary.” It centers on a figure of an elder woman, dressed in a white Western aristocratic-era dress, with a parasol, and high heels, painting her face in white with bright red lips, almost like a Butoh form character, who wandered around the train stations and city streets in Yokohama. She was seen by the Japanese public over and over for about a decade. Then in 1995, she suddenly disappeared from sight.  In Japan, rumors began……….

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From HIROSHIMA-NAGASAKI to You…. ヒロシマ,ナガサキからのお願い

I am a product of war.

I am a product of racism and white supremacy, Japanese imperialism, and global military corporate industrial complex.  I am a product of love.

I am a product. Of people’s minds and hearts. It is not one or the other in any way. Living is complex.  But people reduce things to ONE thing or another ONE THING.

The IMPERIAL ONE.  I hope that we work to Decolonize, De-imperialize our minds.

Is this the only way people see?               Do you see?  

My mother was bombed by the Americans for nearly a year.  Charred bodies, dreams, hopes. Destruction of a cultural self imagined. Towards the American century.

My mother’s sister perished in Hiroshima.  My mother was supposed to go with her that day, but her sister went in place of her.  And then……………the mushroom, the fire.

Then……….the looking and searching.  The stench.  The orange glow sky.  The tears.  The gaping gape, a darkness.  Still here today in the minds and hearts of people who love to destroy and hate.

But until we can be smarter, stronger, more strategic, more concerned, have different worldviews, I offer a prayer.

Prayer:

I KEEP IN MIND, for myself, my mother, and all ancestors, that we seek understanding, thought, peace, connectedness returned and revisited and lived. BUT ALL THIS in CONTEXT OF THOSE WHO WRITE TO ME to tell me that THE ATOMIC BOMBS on JAPAN were NOT ENOUGH and that ALL JAPANESE should’ve been killed. I hear this from some VETS (usually white, black, or Latino), from some Koreans, Filipinos, Chinese), from some Chinese, Koreans, Filipinos, White Australian and White Brits. SO WE LIVE CONNECTED to PASTS of HATRED alongside PASTS of HOPE. May we all Survive with Better Hearts, Intellects, and Strategies……….

Mizuko 水子 – “Water Children”

Jizo statues stand in many places and in many forms around Japan. Photo by Angie Star.

 

The title of my book: Dream of the Water Children: Memory and Mourning in the Black Pacific, contains terms that are in the in-between space between language, history, and worldviews.  In this post, and the next post, I will focus on the term: water children.  What is this?  In my own use of the term for my book, what does this mean?

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VIDEO: Eric Robinson of Black Tokyo – Race & Identity in Japan

I am featured, along with Black-Okinawan thinker Mitzi-Uehara Carter, in the latest edition of Black Tokyo‘s Vlog at Youtube.

This edition features issues whiteness, blackness and Japanese-ness in relation to Race and Identity in Japan.

Reflecting on the election of Ariana Miyamoto as Miss Universe Japan in 2015, Eric points to various critiques, insights, and conditions that construct the definitions of social change, Japan and Japanese-ness, and the roles of mixed-race-ness in Japanese society, whether influencing Japan or not.

Also: Visit Eric Robinson’s BLACK TOKYO blog here: http://www.blacktokyo.com 

 

Bathing in Japan

Living in Japan from my earliest memory into childhood, and then returning when I was an early teen, included one of the most important and pleasurable events of most Japanese peoples’ daily and monthly life— bathing.  In Japan, bathing is not only a way to wash ourselves, and not only an individual pleasure, but a way of healing, relaxing, conversing with friend(s) and/or family, and ritual.

Many people are familiar with the Japanese bath in the home, which resembles what the Americans call a “hot tub.”  The tradition of bathing is not exclusive to Japan, of course.  While I was doing research in Turkey, it was a pleasure to learn of the Turkish bath traditions and to partake in its histories and pleasures there, and to think of the similarities and differences.

The private bath, in the home, is called お風呂 — Ofuro, in Japan, and is the most familiar to people outside of Japan.

But in addition to this, I want to mention some other bathing traditions in Japan, mainly the public baths.

When I was growing up in Japan, once a month, my mother and I would visit a neighborhood public bath — 銭湯 Sentō. In addition, once a year or two years, when my mother could afford it, she would take us to the hot springs baths ­­­—  温泉 Onsen.   The neighborhood public baths have been losing business and there are fewer and fewer in Japan nowadays, as people individualize and the tradition of bathing is becoming increasingly private and preferred. Also, public baths are getting expensive as well as Japanese people having less leisure time. Many corporations in Japan sponsor their workers’ public bathing. Even so, these remain important cultural traditions that would most likely never die out in Japan, and remain one of the special Japanese traditions of healing, cleaning, and relaxation.

(This post is duplicate of a post from one of my own old blogs “Ainoko.”)

Join ‘Japan’s War Brides and Their Legacies – 2018 Symposium’

Japan’s War Brides and Their Legacies: 2018 Symposium — a symposium on the legacies and effects of the lives of women who married non-Japanese between 1945 to 1965, will be coming at USC (University of Southern California) in 2018.

I will be one of the organizers and looking forward to building this into a solid first-time program.

My hope is that healing, learning, connection, and impacts are made, linking the individual and diverse post-war Japanese women’s experiences with the lives of their children and what and how this links with other stories that create spaces for thinking for social change and social justice, and to honor the lives of the Japanese war-brides, which are often mired in controversy and various forms of invisiblizing.

Our intention is to bring Japanese war brides, their children, and the scholars, artists, filmmakers, and the general community together for a series of events for sharing, thinking, healing, and inspiration.

If you are a child of a Japanese post-WWII marriage, or are yourself, and would like to join in bringing this symposium together, please join our facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1849706125309535/

My Early Puzzling racial questions……..

diz-carla-mama-me
Mama, myself, and my friend Diz and his sister Carla, in front of my Dad’s new Mercedes just outside of Tachikawa Air Force Base, Japan in 1961.

When I run into and get to know mixed-race American-Japanese people in the U.S., most of the time, they mention histories of being confused about who they were, their identity. Although, let’s say out of fifty persons I knew, seven or eight of them did not tell me that they questioned their identity, about confusion, the others did. I am one who never had any questions of who I was. But I also began noticing that those who questioned their identity, were mostly born in the United States, or left Japan as a child, before they could form too many sentences. Since American-ness is a place of individuals disconnected from communities, where people must craft their intimacies and friendships and relations, it began to dawn on me that this was not a surprise.

Equally so, was that I was quite sure of who I was and never questioned who I was or what I was.

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Home Food for Winter: Oden おでん

In the winters, a food I looked forward to was: Oden.

A light broth stew, with assorted mountain and sea vegetables, and assorted deep fried and boiled mixtures and garden vegetables, made for a hearty and warm emotional satisfaction. What heightens its tastiness and sensual pleasure, was that in the olden days, when I was a child, we’d sit in the warm kotatsu (heated table) on the tatami floor, on the zabuton (cushions), while in the middle of the table there was a hearth where there was a hibachi grill area to cook.

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Harbors

December 7th.  In any year, in the United States, it is memorialized.

Just what is memorialized?

Memory. . . . . . What is it? Memory of What?  For what?

pearl-harbor-mem-dayOf course.  We mourn. the loss.

Veterans of the U.S. military who were alive at the time, who experienced it, must remember it, perhaps simply to honor their friends and fellow military friends who perished, or whose lives were maimed.—But . . . . . . .

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MY BOOK: Update! – ENTIRE PROOF going through!

Mama, Dad, myself, above and below bombs.

My BOOK is, for the FIRST TIME in six years of being in the works with the publisher, is ON TRACK!  

For the first time, the ENTIRE manuscript has been proofed and is being reviewed for final edits and placement of photos.  This has never happened!  So it is going to be ready by next fall!

The many photos need to be placed throughout the book in the right places, the captions need to be cleaned up, and then the Index needs to be done.

While this is going on, those doing extra chapters such as the Introduction, will be able to read the manuscript and write their pieces for the Front Matter.

So it feels GOOD to finally be in the “BOOK IS HAPPENING” stage, and no longer in the start-and-stop phase.

 

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