Japan, Travels

Welcome Home!

Dear Drew,

If I remember correctly… you’ll be arriving back in the states soon…


Gif title: “Ron Swanson is excited”

So I wanted to say お帰りなさい!  (WELCOME BACK/HOME)!!!  I want to hear about everything!!  Trips, people, food, CANADA, down time activities, dreams, reflections, the hoary marmots– everything!

How has time been passing?  Have days gone by slowly, weeks quickly?  That’s how it has been here.  Mondays are always tiring because I always have a test or presentation (or both >.<) and when I think I can slack off for a few hours afterwards I remember that there’s a meeting with a teacher, origami club (the first four weeks I was in the calligraphy club woot woot), and volleyball…and then homework maybe.  It’s good to be busy, and I think I’ll be able to sneak in a nap before origami club today.

Anywhos– apologies, my sleepiness has got me in a daze– I can’t waiiiiiiiiit to hear your voice and see you soon!!  TWO WEEKS!!!giphy

Much love always,




Japan, Musing

Still Alive & Still in VT: Part II

こんばんは Drew!

Thank you for Google translating your last post– I admit your post written in English was just too tempting not to read– but I really appreciate your support of my language pledge. ❤

Keeping my language pledge in mind though I should probably keep my words to a minimum like in Jeff McDaniel’s “The Quiet World.”  Loved that- so cool that he taught at the Sarah Lawrence program!  I hope measuring alpine vegetation and telekinesis with hoary marmots (lolz love your rents) is exceeding your wildest expectations.

I’ve been at Middlebury for almost four weeks now…cray cray!  I just made it into level 3 and decided to stick with it so every day is challenging and every day my free time (that is…when I’m procrastinating homework) I nap, snooze, or literally just lie in my bed (my sanity is supported by 2 fans) or in the lounge (AC).  I really like the other 学生s and the 先生s here.  I wish I had talked with more people when we could still speak English, but we do our best getting to know each other in Japanese.

Some highlights to far include…

覚和歌子 (Kaku Wakako)’s week-long stay.

Kaku-san is a Japanese poet and lyricist who collaborated with her long-time friend and singer Kimura Yumi to write the lyrics for Miyazaki Hayao’s Spirited Away theme song.  Kimura loved Miyazaki’s Princess Mononoke so much that she wrote a letter including one of her CDs, to Miyazaki.  Out of gazillions of mail sent to Miyazaki, this one was actually read by him.  Apparently, because he loves music so much, Miyazaki asks his staff to directly deliver mail containing music to him.  And to this letter, Kimura’s letter, he replied.

Miyazaki hoped that Kimura might write a song for a project that he was currently working on, but also shared that plans, due to their nature, tend to change, and cautioned Kimura that there was unfortunately only a slight chance of everything working out.  All the same, Kimura asked Kaku to collaborate with her and find words to a melody that kept resurfacing in her mind.  Kaku finished the first draft of their song, “Itsumo Nando Demo” or “Always with Me,” in fifteen minutes.

In a speech Kaku gave (and which was luckily and beautifully translated into English by the Dean of the Middlebury Language Schools), she explained that writing this song was like a channeling experience.  The words easily tumbled out as if the song had already been written, that universe simply used her as a clear and empty bamboo shoot to deliver it.  That those were her favorite experiences of her work, times when she channeled something both from herself and from something greater.  Something created and meant for everyone, something that could be read, sung, and listened to over and over again and be delightfully fresh and true every time.

Miyazaki’s original project was benched; however, a few years later he contacted Kimura hoping that he might use the same song for “Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi,” i.e. “Spirited Away.”  At first Kimura and Kaku were unsure if the song they wrote inspired by what Miyazaki had shared of his previous project could fit another movie.  Their feelings changed when Miyazaki shared that during the duration of the project, when he and his team came to a crossroads and weren’t sure where to take the story next, they listened to this song over and over again and let it guide their way.

Here are the lyrics translated into English and the song below:

Always with Me

Somewhere, a voice calls, in the depths of my heart
May I always be dreaming, the dreams that move my heart

So many tears of sadness, uncountable through and through
I know on the other side of them I'll find you

Everytime we fall down to the ground we look up to the blue sky above
We wake to it's blueness, as for the first time

Though the road is long and lonely and the end far away, out of sight
I can with these two arms embrace the light

As I bid farewell my heart stops, in tenderness I feel
My silent empty body begins to listen to what is real

The wonder of living, the wonder of dying
The wind, town, and flowers, we all dance one unity

Somewhere a voice calls in the depths of my heart
keep dreaming your dreams, don't ever let them part

Why speak of all your sadness or of life's painfull woes
Instead let the same lips sing a gentle song for you

The whispering voice, we never want to forget,
in each passing memory always there to guide you

When a miror has been broken, shattered pieces scattered on the ground
Glimpses of new life, reflected all around

Window of beginning, stillness, new light of the dawn
Let my silent, empty body be filled and reborn

No need to search outside, nor sail across the sea
Cause here shining inside me, it's right here inside me

I've found a brightness, it's always with me

I’ve basically just been listening to this and another song written by Kaku:ほしぞらとてのひらと, apologies the translation has proved impossible at this moment to find…

But anywhos.  Kaku ❤



And no big deal…BUT IN FOUR-ISH DAYS SHE WROTE A SONG FOR THE MIDDLEBURY JAPANESE SCHOOL!  I almost passed out from happiness.  A few times.  She asked students to put words they liked in a suggestion box and SHE USED BOTH OF MINE in the song– then I really almost passed out.  I choose みずうみ (‘mizuumi,’ lake) and 宇宙 (‘uchuu,’ universe).  The second word I chose was a new word I learned during Kaku’s speech when she said that inside everyone, there is a universe.  Isn’t that…beautiful?

I’ve realized that last night when I began this post I was going to keep it short and yet here I am Saturday afternoon still talking about Kaku.  Lolcatz.

In other news, the head of Burlington Taiko came for a workshop last Friday.

IT WAS AWESOME!!!  Below ビッキー has very generously let me use her photo compilation:

<3 <3 <3

SO MUCH FUN!!!!!!!  Wow.  For realz though.  There weren’t enough drums for everyone to play at the same time though, so some students were being all polite, like “no you, please, I’ll wait a while,” and so I’d just be like “I got this folks,” and jump in (in a very friendly, totally-didn’t-push-anyone-aside-because-they-just-weren’t-that-into-it-anyway kind of way).

Also the Japanese school had a costume party…

Here ビッキー and I are “Nihon” (Japan in Japanese, thus she has a picture of a ‘ni/knee’ (日) and I’m holding a 本/hon, which as a stand alone character also means book.




We’re kind of clever.  Also we went into town to a farmer’s market last Saturday with some of the 先生s which was funnnn….


And Tamura-先生 (on the right hand side in the picture above) generously taught us how to make ‘egg pancakes’ last night!  Lolz.  Not actually egg pancakes, but basically a Japanese style omelete…sort of.  Anyway- it’s something I can make living off campus next year so I’m pretty pumped.  Here’s me praying we survive this cooking adventure:


I’m off to…nap now probably.  Always napping.  Thanks to our study of blood types this week (as it’s a popular characteristic to share and talk about in Japan), I now know (/remember after contacting mumziedearest) that I’m Type B, i.e. forever tired (lacking endurance was the official description I believe) and a big fan of doing things in my own way/at my own pace (マイペース: ma-ee-peh-su).  …Strange how well my blood seems to know me.

My time at Middlebury is almost half way through.

And you’ve almost been away for four weeks too!  Thinking about your post on our blog’s two year anniversary, I think maybe it sometimes seems as if we’ve returned from the restroom to “find dessert ordered and eaten,” but maybe we’ve actually been eating dessert this whole time.  Like a side order of a sweet soup we’ve been enjoying throughout the meal that we didn’t realize was actually dessert.  Something I’d misnamed or unconsciously dismissed.

At the cafeteria the Japanese School dines in during the week, sometimes the staff serves sweet soups.  I admit I’m not really into them, though I’ll also admit that I haven’t tried any.  I’m slowly getting that kind of feeling though, that what I was waiting for was actually already placed on, or sitting around, the table the whole time.


Until next time,

Many thanks and much love always!