8 month old Ichiro Stanley Thorvald Olson visiting his great-grandpa Ichiro’s ohaka grave on the 48th anniversary of his passing￼. Great-grandmother Tomiko joined him last summer. It’s all about the cycles.
4 generations of Fujitas, more or less art Grandfather Ichiro and now Grandmother Tomiko’s ohaka (grave) short walk from our home in Tsuchida, Okayama. We cleaned the ohaka, lit incense, fresh flowers, clap clap, bow, bow etc.
Momma brought flowers from home (daffodils and irises I think) note: construction beginning behind
These shining lights continue to connect the centuries of culture & community The family gravestones go back so far the words are obscured / we wash (sometimes), light incense (Nag Champa in this case), clap and bow + bit of a conversation > In this case, namesake Grandfather Ichiro & Grandmother Tomiko’s ohaka / note: this “ohaka” has served as an important destination and part this year’s actions as documented in this archive.
This summer was a splendid fog of humid waves of action welcoming baby Ichiro amongst *all the world*. Yet, remains tasks to do (esp as i am still getting settled as an immigrant in a new country and logistically removing myself from several other countries, so: make a list, check the items, repeat.
Anyhow, what follows are scenes of “usual days” in late-summer 2020 as we caught up on life after welcoming Ichiro and tending to various life admin tasks. In other words, the bits which don’t fit anywhere else yet i find somehow amusing. Minimally annotated, non-chronologically. Carry on.
Note: I roll slowly (1 action per day and only 1 outing a week usually) so strategic planning and adjusting to my health and the baby’s need were/are key.
Background: I have challenging/delicate eyes (astigmatism, wearing glasses since a baby) and need an awesome ophthalmologist (眼科医 Gankai) eye doctor – was hoping someone with english skills as some the vocab evades me but had a very thorough test and fresh prescription to take to an ace optometrist and/or optician + optical shop / Note: tricky eyes so the “cheap and cheerful” places aren’t right for me.
Aug 19th was 49 days after Ryoko’s Grandmother Tomiko passed away at 94 years old, 6 days after baby Ichiro was born, and the night he was registered on the generational family register (koseki tohon) at city office with the same name (but different kanji characters) as her husband – Ichiro.￼
As such, in the Buddhist tradition, her ashes were put into the ohaka (crypt) with dashing Grandfather Ichiro who died at 49 years old, many decades ago.￼￼
Note: Throughout the pregnancy, we often visited grandpa Ichiro‘s ohaka (grave) as going to a cemetery it was easy to reduce risk while having a pleasant walk and while there, clean his grave, light incense and have a conversation.
In early July were four days of various funeral ritual/ceremonies at the house (adjusted for current health protocols) before she was cremated, and since then, her ashes sat at the family altar with daily incense, prayers and so on.
So as it goes, the remarkably handsome monk offered more incense and chants and led family in scripted prayers and incantations. Baby Ichiro rolled with it all.
Following, we took her ashes to the cemetery where a kindly tall specialist removed the capstone of the freshly cleaned ohaka allowing us to briefly see grandpa‘s urn, before adding the new jar & gently sealing back up.
Then we burned more incense, gave regards to other graves and left a lovely lunch to take her into the next journey.
The circle is complete, the family continues, I’m very proud to be part of this clan.￼￼ We’ve had seven weeks of birth, death, (re)birthdays, and so much transition in real time.￼ i’m privileged to be a participant.
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.
The past few days we’ve witnessed a powerful transition of life as Ichiro’s great-grandmother Tomiko Fujita ￼left this realm at 94 years old.
She is the widow of grandfather Ichiro who died over 4 decades ago at 49 years old. She passed a few hours after we formally registered the new lil Ichiro’s name at the City Office.￼￼
Her body went through the traditional Buddhist rituals in the house with monks, attendants, preparers and so on coming and going over 4 days with relics, artifacts, momentos, flowers, altars and so on / conducting prayers & chants plus bells, incense… all in the same tatami room where Ryoko & Ichi had rested hours before￼.
There’s more to say about this whole experience and the incredible dignity and respect and intention with which she was treated – but for now, I will say: as in the Buddhist consideration, her spirit lingers here for 40 some odd days after the body diminishes and feeling the life force transmitting between generations was undeniable.
PS watching my dear in-laws’ graceful tenacity during the scant days between dropping their daughter at clinic to give birth to baby coming home & settling in, then FiL’s mother passing & ceremonies… was a revelation of love.
Notes: Getting ready for the wedding, put together a little inspiration set of some cool old formal photos with plans to do this but everything got a little hectic afterwards so we didn’t get a chance… We still will one of these days, maybe even with the baby in tow… I always go for a chance to dress up in something interesting for photo fun times :)
By the way, we visited grandpa’s grave today – he died in 1972 at 49 years old so assuming married in his early 20s, this was right at the end of World War II… I’ll take another look and see if I can get an exact year as I’m figuring out his bio.
After all the friends came and went from the wedding festivities in April (including a hospital stay by one intrepid adventurer) and then the Emperor abdicated and new one enthroned, then we rambled through much of May to Toyama, Nagano, Niigata etc. seeing small museums, riding various trains, soaking in a few hot springs, visiting a few pals… oh then of course, doing all the paperwork and procedure for my zairyu card, national insurance and pension programs and setting up our little house with some 2nd hand furniture, a fresh shelf books and hooks and hangers… we set about just “normal life” here.
Note: Indeed, indulged with a very practical maneouver to acquire a stack of books… this pile is primarily from Vancouver and Vancouver-related by Grant Lawrence, Aaron Chapman, Eve Lazarus, plus Marc Zegans and David Willis… i will document these and many others recently added to collection forthwith(ish).
What follows are very mediocre snapshots to chronicle various normal-outings, non-events, day-to-day errands, and other otherwise insignificant actions.
For the record, we live in Tsuchida neighbourhood outside of Okayama city (shi), the capital of Okayama prefecture (ken). A mix of old (pre-war) homes, new homes, rice fields. 20 mins by car or 30 minutes by the fantastic Uno Bus to Okayama Station. Easy to go to Kurashiki or Bizen or the inland sea.
I’ve even tried to plant some garden boxes and various seeds for greens. Okaasan (mother) has a much better technique and diligence with gardening.