All posts filed under: BEYOND ME

BEYOND ME June 2020

Last February, I was so thankful to have finished the final galleys of my second verse novel, Beyond Me, based on our experience of the aftershocks in west Tokyo from the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami of 2011. After 3 years of remembering, researching and writing it, we were advised to self-isolate for COVID before being quarantined in March. After these 4+ months of going only to the grocery and hardware store, walking twice to the Botanical Gardens and riding up Mt. Fuji yesterday (for our 30th anniversary) I can still hold strong to the things I wrote about and what got me through Tokyo’s month of aftershocks; family, friends and pets, and tending Earth (for me gardening). Here as in the Acknowledgements, I would like to thank my children for skyping me away from the manuscript, to Papa and friends Mari Boyle, Kathy Schmitz, Kristin Ormiston and Cam Sato for pulling me away to do fun things; to SCBWI Japan’s advisors Holly Thompson, Naomi Kojima, Mariko Nagai, Avery Fischer Udagawa for always organizing an …

An Inspiration

Toida-san started farming when he was seventeen years old. His family owned land from their house (north of ours) all the way down to Tama River. Before World War II, the land where our house now stands was an orchard of mulberry trees for silk worms. There are no mulberry trees around here, but I actually saw a silk moth in the garden here thirty years ago. It was the first time I had ever seen one. Toida-san and his wife farmed the fields behind our house until he retired at 90 years old. I watched them for years from our windows and roof garden. After I got a digital camera in 2006, he gave me permission to get closer to take photos. I photographed every season before he retired. I used the photos for reference for Beyond Me. I will post more photos here. It is bittersweet to go through them and it is hard to choose among them. Meanwhile, if you are interested, check posts at Here and There Japan under the categories “urban farming” …

Birds of BEYOND ME

I see birds everywhere in west Tokyo. They are in my garden and in the farmer’s fields outside our windows. Before the pandemic, I walked to the grocery store or to the station every day so I would see them in the trees along the street, in garden trees, and on buildings. I would take the camera with me (before iphones) and I would take walks just to photograph them. So naturally, birds have shown up in my writing. Click on my photos to look more closely, but also click on the link in red below them to see photos at Cornell Lab’s eBird. Be sure to click on “Listen” on their page. You can hear what I hear almost every day.   White-cheeked Starlings (Spodiopsar cineraceus) come to the fields to forage for insects. One always followed or led our neighborhood farmer as he tilled his field. The same one every day? Every year? I am not sure. The farmer has retired and I still see starlings. But none follow the farmer who rents …

The Cat

All along, I knew there would be a cat in Beyond Me. From the beginning I knew the cat would black, but I started thinking about how a three-colored cat is considered lucky. I decided the cat would be black. With a red collar and bell. Later, as I was going through my farming photos researching the seasons of the vegetable fields I found this photo. It was the first and only time I saw that cat. He was sitting next to taro. The photo was taken March 2012, the year after The Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami.