Under provocation

There are two types of pain; one is the pain itself, the other is that other people don’t understand the pain.

One of my favourite singer songwriters, Risa Hirano wrote in her blog what her mentor told her; 80% of people suffer from pain daily, therefore, if your life is always happy and bright, you cannot write songs to touch other 80% people’s heart. Honestly, I don’t know what writing songs is like, but I understand what it means. Feeling other people’s pain is a unique ability of human beings. When a pain is understood by others, it can be healed. Singer songwriters often mitigate other people’s pain by sharing their pain in an artistic way. They tell us “you are not alone”.

Honestly speaking, when I’m stressed out, or even provoked, and depressed, I often think “why me?”. What makes the situation worse is the norm in Japanese working world; expressing pain at work is considered to be making excuse to avoid painful jobs, so you should keep quiet. In such a situation, pain will never be understood, will never be healed. In such a situation, I should recall what I wrote in an old post; encouraging my friends encourages myself. If I am discouraged, encourage others. But, can I? Am I strong enough to do that?

One day, when I was leaving my work place, I found small flowers in the parking. That’s a factory, and many workers throw away cigarette or whatever wherever. Trash are scattered over the parking. But no matter how nasty the environment is, they bear pretty flowers. They made me think that no matter what others do or say, I can remain myself and stand strong even under provocation.

It’s not about the environment or the circumstances. It’s myself. Even if my pain is not understood by others, I can understand other people’s pain and encourage them. It is easy to say but hard to do, but I’ve found it heals my pain.


It’s been almost three months since I came back to Canada for a long-term business trip (and I have not updated my blog for almost three month. Sorry!). I’ve done many things in Canada so far: in Calgary, Hamilton, Orillia, and in Mississauga and Toronto. And what I do now is very different from my previous experiences. I inevitably work with Japanese where I need to be Japanese.

Japanese are funny people. Some of them assume that those who can speak English can do whatever in English, which is obviously wrong. It’s just like expecting them to do whatever in Japanese because they can speak Japanese. But in fact, obviously, people have skills, knowledge and expertise in different fields. Some people simply don’t understand it. One good thing is that I can experience something new unexpectedly thanks to my ability to speak English. Now I work as a coordinator and negotiate with other people in English. When I got this position, I thought “oh, come on, don’t expect me to do whatever. I have little experience in this”. It took me some time to accept the reality, but now I think this is not bad. I like communicating with people. I like mediating or facilitating roles. This can be a good opportunity for me to experience something new and improve skills in this new field.

The current job also makes me recognize that I am somehow different from typical conservative Japanese; I am more adaptable than them. I remember that I wrote something like this in an old post when I worked for another Japanese company in Canada. Probably I can be adaptable not only thanks to my character but also because of the unusual variety of experiences in the past. Now, I need to be adaptable at a higher level, adaptable enough to work with conservative Japanese. I usually try to stay away from those conservative ones because they are a pain. Now I don’t need to be “generous”, don’t need to get along and hang out with them, but need to accept the difference and understand their attitude rather than complaining about their behaviour. You might think “is it that big deal?”. Yes, it is to me. this will be a new experience to me.

I also need to accept, again, that life in unstable. It’s a long story, but I don’t know what I will be doing two months from now though I have a full-time job now. It’s a long story. Whatever happens, it will be a new experience to me. Let’s see.

Stress: to reduce, to live with, or to turn into…

There is always a “second best” choice. But it seems like that a second best can be even better than the best.

There are different ways to get old. A few years ago I wrote about a demented president of a micro company that I worked for. He tried hard to find and point out other people’s mistakes to show he was smarter than others, but it never worked out. He was around 60 years old then. On the other hand, there are amazing elders. I was impressed by this internet article, 70-year-old woman runs 7 marathons on 7 continents in 7 days. Even a 70-year-old woman who runs a full marathon is amazing enough. And she did SEVEN marathons on SEVEN continents in SEVEN days! This fact is incredible enough, and her comment impressed me further.

“I live a stressful life. Every day, I work 10 hours a day … but I always feel better,” Smith said. “How I feel after I put in my running, I think that’s important. It makes you feel good. I can’t really put it into words.”

Many people spend a busy, stressful life today. But how many of them can turn it into good feeling? Not many. When people work long hours daily and feel stressed, while some people simply live with it, probably “the best” solution is to reduce the workload and avoid stress. However, when the best one does not work, it seems like that some people choose “a second best” solution to do something else in their rare spare time to make themselves feel better. I admire them. In her case it turned out to be an amazing story and encourages others.

As I wrote in the previous post, my lifestyle will change soon, which I expect to be an opportunity to see how this year’s resolution would work; to mind my breath to be mindful. If workload cannot be reduced, another second best choice is to see the situation from a different perspective. Let’s see.

Be mindful

Three days, three months, three years. Some people say those are the timings when people think of quitting their job. I know a few people who quit their job on day three or four. It was in the third year in my first job when I thought of a different career path.

In last couple of years, I wrote about “New Year’s” resolution in March. The resolution for the year 2015 was “to ignite my intellectual curiosity“. The resolution for the year 2016 was “to visit a historical site once a month“. Three months should be long enough for many people to quit New Year’s resolution. If you have kept a resolution for three months, you may want to continue it longer, up to a year, or even longer.

In early January this year, I wrote about a “candidate” of New Year’s resolution, which is to mind my breath to be mindful. It’s been a little more than two months since then, and it turned out to be quite difficult. Mindful means to be “deliberately aware of your body, mind, and feelings in the present moment, in order to create a feeling of calm (Cambridge University Press, 2017)”. Whether you mind your breath or not, you won’t be choked, of course. But when you don’t mind your breath, your mind may be occupied by something unimportant or worthless. In fact, when I feel somehow stressed and uncomfortable, especially at work, I find myself not breathing comfortably and negative mind has emerged. To mind your breath is a good start to spend a mindful life. Trying it for a couple of month is just enough to find how difficult it is. Now the candidate has got the position.

I know my life style will change soon; I’ll go back to Canada and play a different role at work. I expect it to be stressful. Let’s see how I can (or cannot) keep calm there.

Combridge University Press. (2017, 3 16). Cambridge Dictionary. Retrieved from Meaning of “mindful” in the English Dictionary: http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/mindful

Thank technology

I’ve found that recent posts are all about street musicians… I really like it, and it used to be 一期一会 – ichigo-ichie; one opportunity to meet one person, so people should appreciate the opportunity and show their supreme respect. I often stopped at a street singer’s performance, bur it was rare to see them twice. But thanks to today’s technology, street singers and their fans can be connected through Twitter or blog wherever they are. They can even broadcast their live performance whether they are at a live music club or in their room.

Twit Casting, or ツイキャス, is a main tool for them to show their live performance online. One day, I found a very nice singer songwriter on it. Her voice is very soft and soothing, and she gave me a relaxing time before going to bed. Her name is Hiromi Karino, or Hiromin. I also found her on Twitter and YouTube, and left some comments. She gradually recognized me as a fan of her. But I live in Nagoya, and she lives in Tokyo.

Yesterday, I finally had a chance to see her live performance! I went to my parent’s place in Yokohama to prepare for moving to Canada, and went to a small live music club in Tokyo. When we met, we instantly recognized each other though it was the first time to meet in person. We had some minutes to chat, and I felt we’ve known each other for a long time.

I thank technology for connecting us, but no technology beats live performance. It is literally “live”. I don’t only listen but feel it. I can be part of it. On the stage, she left the microphone for a few seconds, and her voice directly reached me. It was a special moment. Well, I still thank technology for giving an opportunity like that.

This weekend turned out to be a singer songwriters’ weekend. Yesterday I met Hiromi Karino, then I saw Idea on stage this afternoon. I finished today with Airi Nagoya on the street. I listen to their songs on CD daily, but live performance is always unbeatable.

Make someone happy

A few weeks ago I wrote about an “unhappy” cafe. That story continues. After leaving the cafe, I had a chance to see a singer’s performance on a small outdoor stage in front of a train station. Her name is Idea. She is cool and lively, and has excellent voice. Few people can impress me like she does. I became a fan of her, and went to a live music club to see her performance as I wrote in the previous post.

Yesterday I went to see an audition, held in a shopping mall, that she participated in. The winners would perform on an outdoor stage in the shopping mall. When the audition was about to start, she found me in the audience. There were ten candidates, and everyone sang one song in front of the big audience. She did an excellent job, and I was impressed. I’m sure other people, including the judges, were impressed as well. After the audition, the audience had a chance to talk to their favourite singer. I talked to her, of course. She thanked me for coming and said “I was so nervous, but I found you in the audience and thought I would be all right!” How nice of her is it to say such a thing to me? I like to see her performance because it encourages me, and it’s so good to know that I encourage her.

The result of the audition was presented today. She got the position. No surprise.

It’s also good to know that there is still room in my heart to praise other people’s success, which I often forget when I feel miserable. It’s good to know that the loser can still make someone happy.

Good to know I’m still alive (as a human)

Some people do what they like and it is also good for others, whether they can live on it or not. I like to see people like them.

In a previous post, I wrote about my favourite street singer Airi Nagoya. I like watching, or in other words, being part of street musician’s performance; street performance is created by a singer and the audience.Those street singers like to sing songs and send messages to their audience, and their messages and the attitude encourage the audience. When their singing touches my heart, I feel I’m still alive.

This week, on a weekday, I had a chance to go to a small live music club after work to see four singer-songwriter’s performance. I only knew one of the four, whose name is Idea. I didn’t know any of the other three, and it turned out to be fabulous experience. Everyone has a different character, has their own way of singing, and sends different messages. I thoroughly enjoyed it. One of the four, Risa Hirano, touched my heart in a different way from anyone else. When she sang her song titled “Pony”, I was moved to tears, literally.

I adored Pegasus who can fly high in the sky and
came here, hoping my dream would come true soon, but…
I’ve kept running, and running, but I still cannot grow wings.

(Lyrics by Risa Hirano, translated by Hiro)

I am still a loser; I’m like a pony without wings. But the pony in her song keeps striving. How about… me? One good thing is I still have the heart to be touched. When I came back from Canada a year and a few months ago, I wrote about “face“. Which am I now? Am I one of human people, or one of emotionless people? Tear often washes out bad feelings. I’m still alive as a human.

Happy? another case

I love coffee. I really love coffee. But as I wrote in a previous post, there is virtually no kitchen in my current tiny apartment room, and I cannot enjoy brewing a cup of coffee. When I want to have a nice cup of coffee, I have to go to a nice cafe (which means that I can brew a cup of nice coffee at home if a decent kitchen is available). Today I went to a “stylish” cafe. The coffee was good. The cheese cake was good too. The interior was very cool. But the experience was OK; it was very different from the cafe in Toronto, as I wrote in a previous post titled “Happy?”, where a signboard says “coffee is happiness in a cup and you’ll find that ‘happiness’ here“. In the stylish cafe, waitresses looked somehow unhappy which didn’t make me happy. I’m not surprised if workers at a fast food restaurant look unhappy or make fake smile (of course there are some people who work at a fast food restaurant and make natural smile to make customers happy as I wrote in a previous post). But since I was expecting to have a relaxing time there (which I do not expect at a fast food restaurant), I was a little disappointed.

I’ve noticed there are two types of cafe; those where workers look somehow happy, and those where workers look unhappy. I don’t know what makes the difference. Maybe how demanding the job is. Maybe affected by other workers. Or maybe what they intend to provide is different; some cafes merely provide some types of drinks, while some other cafes provide experience with a cup of coffee. For the latter case, the workers’ attitude counts. Anyways, I like to see happy people. I like to see people who can be proud of what they are doing.

Me? Honestly, I cannot be proud of what I am doing now to live on. I know I’m doing a good job at the current workplace. I contribute a lot there. But I cannot be proud of it. Why? Because, as I often write here, I’m still a loser (the current job is different from the job when I wrote the post, but very different from my goal anyways). Probably this is why I often look for a place to sit back, relax, and think of myself, my value. This is also why I like to see people who do what they like and look happy; I’m encouraged by them whether they intend to do so or not.

What do you live for?

Japanese people are shocked by a sad news today; a 73-year-old gentleman was hit by a car and killed when he was volunteering to accompany children walking to school, as his daily routine for 15 years since his granddaughter started school. It is sad enough, but what shocked us even more is that he decided to do the volunteer job because his 7-year-old daughter was killed in a car accident 33 years ago. He didn’t want to let such a tragedy happen again. He actually sacrificed his life to save a 9-year-old boy, who is one of the nine children who were crossing the road when the accident happened. He knew what he lived for, and sacrificed his life to it.

Whether you know what you live for or not, you live anyways. Even if you live selfishly for yourself, you live anyways and may live longer than others. But imagine, what do they think and feel when they end their life? Can they think “it was a good life”?

My favourite street singer, and also a friend of mine, Airi Nagoya, sings a song titled “Game”. It goes;

I want to know what I live for
Trick, cheating, the method doesn’t matter
Whatever fire, or water, I don’t mind any risk
This is not a virtual reality. I live in a reality

(Lyrics by Airi Nagoya, translated by Hiro)

Knowing what you live for is not easy. Probably many people cannot find what they live for during their life. But I’m sure even looking for what you live for is a meaningful way of life, although it doesn’t matter whether you care about it or not anyways. As I often write here, I am a looser. It’s been more than four years since I wrote that post, and from time to time I quote it. And I’m still a loser. OK, let’s see how the looser will fail, and see how meaningful it can be.

Happy New Year!!!

Happy New Year 2017!

Since the year 2010, I’ve made seasonal greetings web site where I combine Japanese culture and Canadian culture, which is, a combination of Christmas greetings as Canadian culture and New Year greetings as Japanese culture. I hope everyone likes my illustration!

No-one probably knows the similarity between the greetings web site and this blog. Both are also a message for myself. As I often write here, I know that no-one reads this blog, and I write this blog for myself. The greetings message is “basically” for my friends, but also partially for myself. This is what I wrote  in the greetings web site.

it also made me find how busy my daily life is. It’s good to know there is room in my heart where I enjoy cultural experience. The Japanese character that means “busy” – 忙 – is a combination of “heart” – 心 – and “lost” or even “dead”- 亡 -. This implies that busy means a state in which heart is lost or dead. When people are busy, they are often unaware that they are losing their heart.

I was telling this to myself when I came back to Japan. Life in Japan is basically busy, and it is so easy to lose my heart while I always have some emotion whether it is positive or negative. New Year resolution of the year 2016 was to visit a historical site once a month. It turned out to be a good opportunity for me to find that I usually lose (or kill?) my heart.

It’s been a little more than a week since the year 2017 started, and I am still thinking of New Year resolution of this year. One of the  “candidates” is to breath deeply. You probably thought “huh?”, which is understandable. But how often do you mind how you breathe? What this question really means is, how mindful of yourself are you? OK, this is one of New Year resolutions of this year; mind my breath to be mindful of myself.