Kogarashi (winter blast)

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by Harumi Okochi.
Sometimes Harumi's friends join.
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December, 2006


kogarashi ya murasaki kudake beni yabure

winter blast:
purples are smashed
crimsons are torn

In my childhood, say, more than 50 years ago, WINTER was a Wonderland.
Now, winter is not as cold as it should be. The air is not crisp. Winds don't make children's cheeks red. No ice on the pond. No snowman, no snow balls. No White Christmas. I mean, here in Kyushu.
So I remember winter of my childhood. Will you go back with me?

I borrow the photos of the dolls from Michiko Ishii and Yuki Atae. Please enjoy.

Since Japan lost the war, everybody was poor. Small houses, scarce food. In winter, there was not enough heating.
In most houses, kotatsu was in the center of the living room, if there was a living room.
Kotatsu is a low square table inside of which electric or charcoal heater is installed.
We stretch our legs under the cover, and warm ourselves.
It is a happy talk table of the whole family.
doll ( Yuki) In private rooms, if there were private rooms, the only heating was a small hibachi.
We burn charcoal in hibachi.
Even here in Kyushu, snow fell. Icy winds made chilblains on children's fingers.
"Children were children of Wind. Go and play out." said mothers and sent children out of house.
My little brother played tops with his friends.
My brother always lost games and cried back home.
dolls(Michiko) I was a weak child. Once or twice a week, I was absent from school. Mother didn't send me out.
Wearing warm cotton quilt vest Mom made with small odds of cloth, I always clung to Mom's apron. I was a real nakimushi (weeping bug).
Grandmother was there.
Just sitting before Hibachi, all day long,
Once in a while, she gave us some mochi (rice cakes) grilled on her hibachii.
At that time I didn't like Grandmother, because she gave my cousin (her daughter's daughter) two mochis and gave me (her son's daughter) only one.
Now I can understand why. My cousin's family was even poorer than ours. Cousin could eat mochi only when she visited Grandmother. I could more often.
But when Grandmother took my doll
and gave it to Cousin, I could not but cry.
Oh, I should have been more generous.
I didn't understand why at that time.
My winter memory is my grandmother, whom I hated at that time, and whom I miss so much now, since I am a grandmother now.
She lived long and passed away at age 92. She had 24 grandchildren.
Well, winter is the time for reminiscence. Do you also miss your grandmother?

I wish you a very happy new year.
I hope you will visit me next month again.

Thank you very much for visiting this page.
I hope you will return next month.
Yours, Harumi Okochi

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