July, 2018

This page is written monthly
by Harumi Okochi.
Sometimes Harumi's friends join.
We'd be happy if you look at
our previous issues.


Flight of the Hummingbird
by   Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas
America this time
  Hello, friends.
I would like to show you some photos of our 18 days' trip to the North-West of USA and Canada in May and June.
You do not need any explanations for the photos, do you?
So, let's make it simple.
But I want you share my happiness I felt through this trip.
Den Okochi, my husband, was the tour leader, and the only one tour member was me. There happened some conflicts during the tour because of the old age of the both sides. Losing the way, losing the belongings, losing trust for each other! He trusts himself, and I trust Google map. We argue, but isn't it nice to have someone near to fight against? I always disobey, and make the tour leader angry. Anger makes him young, I believe.
So, let's go!
San Francisco  
   Do you remember Alfred Hitchcock's movie, "Vertigo"?
This spot under the Golden Gate Bridge is where Kim Novak jumped into the sea.

I saw two seals emerging and disappearing leisurely.
Hi, seals, did you meet the beautiful actress then?
   The Fort Point under the south end of the bridge.

  More than 200 people were waiting to ride the cable-car.
Our cruel tour-leader declared that we should climb up the hill on foot!

So we walked up and DOWN the hill!
Poor me!
Poor my knees!
How I wished I could ride the cable car!
So I left my heart in SF cable car.
  We crossed the bridge to Sausalito.
"The Trident", the night club 50 years ago, was still there.
It is now a restaurant.
We saw the photos of the owners at that time, the Kingston Trio.
This makes the tour leader quite happy.He was invited to this club 50 years ago by Bob Shane of the Trio.
   The fisherman's wharf.
One black singer was singing and the people passing by joined in the dance for a while.
They were dancing YMCA. I moved my arms too.
The singer was quite good.
   Mako Devine is our old friend.
Her husband passed away and she lives alone in Pacifica City near San Francisco.
Her only son Willy and his wife Virginia live near her.
   Willy invited us to a restaurant by the sea.
Sun was setting , and beyond this Ocean Japan lies.
  It was one day before the Memorial Day. We visited the military cemetery, and left San Francisco for Portland , Oregon.
 Portland, Oregon  
  Powell's City of Books' is the world largest bookshop. The whole one block of the town is one shop.
Million books, new and used.
I bought "Warlight", a newly published by Michael Ondaatje. We were going to see him in Vancouver soon.
   The Japanese garden in the Washington Park of Portland is the biggest Japanese garden in the world outside of Japan.
Quite well cared.
  Also the Rose Test Garden is amazing, just in season.
Portland is called "The City of Rose".
   The zone above the Japanese garden is a newly opened facility where you can experience Japanese culture.
Seattle and Vashon Island  
   Terry Welch is our good friend over 50 years. He is a famous Japanese-garden architect.
He now lives on Vashon Island.
His house, deep in the forest of high cedars, is like a museum of Oriental art, especially Japanese art. He has collected many pieces of Japanese calligraphy and painting. Honolulu City Museum shows Terry Welch Collection of Japanese art.
  Terry loves Bonsai too.Many of these are over 100 years old.
   His vast Japanese garden declines gradually, and then suddenly steep cliff.
The water you see in the photo is the Puget Sound.
  This is a swimming pool. Not a Koi-pond.
  This maple tree was removed to the land from a bonsai pot.
   At the front door of Terry's house, this totem of Native American greets us.
This is a beaver, the guardian animal for the Snoqualmie tribe.
   The vegetable garden in his house supplies everyday's fresh salad.
Also flowers.
On our arrival, Terry gave me a bunch of crimson peonies.
  Christopher, a friend of Terry's, learns Ura-senke School of Tea Ceremony.
One morning, we were invited to his tea-room on Vashon Island.

He and his wife visited Yoyokaku some years ago.
  Mike is a very successful business man, and he does his job by internet living on this island.
This house is his Moon-viewing cottage deep in the forest he owns.
He communicates with birds by his whistle. I heard birds far away answered his call.
  19th century Mason and Hamlin is Mike's piano.
He plays the piano at concerts.
  Terry is a violinist. Mike and Terry played for us. Mike's house was also a museum of modern art and furniture.
  Wally and Kathy moved from San Francisco to this island.
They have also a Japanese garden which Terry designed.
  The reason why Wally and Kathy built their house here was this landscape.
Mount Rainier (4392m) you see in the center of this photo is covered with snow all the year round.
   We visited one small museum on Vashon Island.
   At the time we visited, the exhibition was about the Japanese Americans on the island, who survived the hard days during the war.
  I read each story of the Japanese families. I read about the concentration camps, despair, loss of their land, death, and survival and new hope.
   Dinner at Terry's house.
Salmon is in season.
Terry is a good cook too.
We also enjoyed Steve's salad so much.
  Around 10 o'clock at night, the sky has light still.
It is a surprise for us Japanese.
  Terry prepared a party for us one night at a restaurant in Vashon.
These people have been to Yoyokaku.
Terry has brought more than 50 people to Japan in these 50 years, 4 or 5 people at one time.
20 people are gone now.
We enjoyed a happy reunion.
   The last night in Seattle.
Leah , Ben's mother, invited us to her beautiful house. She came to Yoyokaku with her husband many years ago, to see her son Ben who was studying pottery with Takashi Nakazato at that time.
Here, in her garden, I saw a hummingbird flying back and forth around flowers.
I have never seen before this tiny little bird.
Next morning, we flew to Vancouver.
 Vancouver, Canada  
   On the first night in Vancouver, we went to an event held in a church.
Mr. Michael Ondaatje, the author of "The English Patient", was interviewed by a younger writer.
He was nominated among the five finalists of The Golden Booker Prize, which will be given to an author who has been awarded the Booker Prize in these 50 years, to commemorate the 50th year of foundation of the prize.
   Mr. and Mrs. Ondaatje came to our place 19 years ago. He remembered me to my happy surprise.
I asked him to sign on his new novel "Warlight".
I bought the book in Portland. Not only in Canada and England, but also in USA, this new book sells well. I hope he will be awarded.
  Vancouver City recently opened a huge market place renovating the old area of factories.
Now more people come here than Niagara Falls!
Everything is here.

People's life is here.
  Melanie-san (second from left) kindly invited us to her house. She is a really good cook.
The man in the center is Mr. Jim Byrnes, a famous blues-singer in Canada.
These people are all Japan fans.
   We stayed overnight at a hotel which is managed by native Canadians, the Haidas.
On the upper floors, native artists live and practice painting, carving, weaving, native arts.
   We visited the Museum of Anthropology of the University of British Columbia.
We saw many items of the native Canadians, especially, Haida.
   Haida's legend of the beginning of their nation is this story.
A raven found a clam on the beach, and in it, there were many humans. These are the first ancestors of Haida.
  Michael Nicoll Yahgranaas is a famous artist of Haida.
His work can be seen in the museum.
  Our hostess, Michiko Sakata, invited Mr. Yahgranaas and we had a very happy reunion. He and Mrs, Yahgranaas visited Yoyokaku last year.
  Michiko Sakata (right) is from Kyushu, Japan.
Her father and my husband's father were very good friends.
Michiko went to the USA when she was very young.
She worked for the United Nations for a long time. Now she is in her 70's, retired, and lives in Vancouver. She is the person who sends many distinguished Canadian or American guests to Yoyokaku, including two Michaels.
   On the last day of our trip Michiko drove us north to the place where Squamish (Native Canadian) tribe had a nation before the white came in.
We rode a gondola 'The Sea to Sky' up to a high rocky mountain.
   There were some explanations about the Squamish land and people.
Incheon, Korea  
  We slept overnight at Incheon Airport before coming back to Japan.
Kim DaeYoeung and his family joined the night, and I had a birthday cake here.
My birthday had disappeared because the date changed on the back flight.
DaeYoeung stayed with us for 11 years to go to college and upper school, some 20 years ago.
Our trip this time ended thus, leaving me many unforgettable memories, thanks to everybody we met.
  Thank you so much for your patient company to our very personal trip.

The memories of this trip will be my whole-life treasures.
One of them is the hummingbird which I saw at Leah's garden.
The hummingbird in Michael's book flies repeatedly with one drop of water in her beak over a big fire in the jungle. Other animals try to stop her saying it is useless. But the hummingbird said, "I am doing what I can."

I will see you next month.

Harumi Okochi
mail to: info@yoyokaku.com