Ichiro: 1 Month / 23.7.2020 (shrine, grave and various annotations)

July 23, 2020 Ichiro Stanley Thorvald Olson hit the one month mark since birth.

For the record: born June 23, 2020 (Reiwa 2), 16:24, Sun Clinic, Okayama, Japan, 3064 grams. 

As is tradition in Japan, we visited a Shinto shrine – though due to various safety concerns, we did not go to the originally planned shrine (Kibitsu jinja – map – we visited back in January before he was born) or Munetada jinja (where we were married which was our back up plan) – instead just stayed in the neighbourhood and went to the big Torii gate of Tenshin jinja with the parents (but did not climb the endless stairs to the top). Then… Clap clap bow bow say a few words to the kami and (of course) snap a few snaps (10 of which are compiled below). 

Then, as was the tradition throughout the pregnancy, we visited grandpa Ichiro’s grave to give it a clean, light incense, and have a conversation to him including introducing his a little namesake. This providing the opportunity to see 4 generations of the family legacy all at once (in a manner of speaking). PS Grandma Tomiko will be interred her on Aug. 19th. 

To be thorough, Ichiro’s name comes from a combination of his grandpa, Ryoko’s best university sensei (Hongo-sensei), and the desire to have a name which is familiar to western minds and emulates the cross-cultural excellence of the noted baseball player.

Then, my best pal and the fellow who made all of this possible by introducing Ryoko and I, the goat farmer Mac Kobayashi came over for a big sushi dinner and then hang out in the barn studio to listen to records (Built to Spill, Mudhoney, “Father” John Misty, Dan Mangan, Chet Baker…) which is a whole other story.

Anyhow, what follows are a few general notes about our wonderful little dude, basically annotations and observations from his first month. Of course the intent isn’t to compare or contrast with other kids, just a few notes for future record and our documentary amusement (inspired in part by seeing my dear late Mother’s annotations about me in a baby book recovered after her passing).

  • Rather serious face / certainly expressive which switches between “raised eyebrow and furrowed forehead” like te world is crashing down to questioning the secrets of the universe, to the cutest hints of a smile
  • Very vocal, like he’s trying to talk, and makes bird sounds and vocalizations (we talk to him in English and Japanese and play classical and jazz music)
  • Now that his eyes are open, they’re big, brown and constantly scanning and observing / soaking everything in for an inventory
  • The back of his head is rather rounded which is noteworthy because often times Asian/Japanese heads tend to be flat on the back if you know what I mean

  • Especially beautiful hands and long fingers which he seems to always be showing off in a way :-) i.e. he has them arranged by his face in a pose like a hand model / surprisingly sturdy grip
  • Legs are long and strong and often kicking, feet are big and toes extra long (wants to be a tree climber like his Mom!)
  • We can see his expression when he’s ready to nurse as he does “opai face” person his lips ready for action
  • He was born with a nice little smattering of hair which is growing fast – dark but not jet-black and very soft with a “whirl” at the crown of his head, again not common with Japanese kids
  • His eyebrows, as mention above, are very expressive and quite light in colour, almost red (like his Viking ancestors perhaps)
  • Cute button nose like his Mom + pinch-able cheeks

  • Head shaped like Olson boys, especially looks like my Dad and brothers when he’s sleeping somehow

  • Loves bathtime with Papa as my hands are big enough to really cradle his head so he feels safe to lounge around (plus bath-time he gets lots of kisses from his papa who also makes up ridiculous songs)
  • Sleeping patterns are changing rapidly whereas at first, he was ready for nursing for or five times in a night and now he’s sleeping in four hour blocks / more or less
  • When he’s sleeping, he keeps his arms raised up next to his head  – like ” hands up”
  • A few logistical notes:
    • using a mix of “natural-ish” paper and cotton disposable diapers sometimes but mostly cotton cloth diapers with a “over diaper: made out of a sort of fleece with velcro tabs / works great / keep waste down
    • the soiled diapers get a rough clean in the toilet then put in a bucket with baking soda (great stuff) to soak for a while and then into the laundry and it’s working well (better than expected
    • outfits for the most part are handmade and very soft things and “Japanese style” meaning like fold-over & tie-up kind of a little “jimbei pajamas” / Note: grateful for all the wonderful gifts of clothing we received… Really enjoyed dressing him up in cute cool things!
    • sleeps next to us in at a tatami mat floor with our big mattress (not a futon cause i’m delicate) and his little mattress right next to us, or up on the bed with us, all underneath a giant true hemp mosquito net (kaya) which creates an “envelope “inside the room. It’s quite heavenly and great energy
    • during the day he’s mostly on his little handmade mat or in his “boat” basket, and now we have a sort of rolling chair bed which makes it a little bit easier to move him around the house
  • The shrine visit was really his first trip outside the house aside to back to the clinic for his one month check in. As of this writing, today he accompanied his Mom to a “seitai” healing treatment session today. This all means three short trips outside the house and his first months in a bit. We are finding the balance between safety with the virus and gently introducing him to new areas. We walk him around in our garden and yard on a regular basis, and today was rainy so i took him outside to hang out under the eaves to soak in some ions. 
  • We are making scrapbooks of artifacts, snaps and ephemera (but you prob guessed this already ha) and working on special “thank you cards” for the wonderful folks who sent gifts. So grateful. 

Epilogue of sorts: 

As i am scribbling a few days after the shrine outing,… really happy to hear the wife laughing and chatting in the front room… A (masked) community healthcare postpartum nurse has come around to chat, q&a, and provide resources etc. Through the whole pregnancy etc., she hasn’t had any friends over at all to talk about “stuff” with a lady, especially a professional. 

My remarkable wife is a fantastically social lady who has various “circles” for tea ceremony, jazz singing, dance, drawing, modelling, French & Chinese classes & runs own business as an arborist so usually out in the field with a chainsaw and K truck. Sweet sound of laughter.

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