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.

Surprise, Fear, Sympathy

It was 21 years ago when Great Hanshin Earthquake hit Western Japan. It was the first massive natural disaster I had “seen” in my home country. Thousands of people were killed, and I got to know many facts about the disaster. I was so surprised.

As I often write in this blog, Great East Japan Earthquake was the first massive natural disaster I have ever experienced. My place then was far from the “group of epicentres”, but it was so massive that it shook entire Eastern Japan. It was not only the biggest but also the longest earthquake I’ve ever experienced. I felt fear. The impact in my home city was not severe, but as the serious damage in the most affected areas were broadcast, we shared pain. It was on March 11, 2011. At the beginning of September, six months after the earthquake, I moved to Canada. But when I left Japan we still felt aftershocks frequently. It’s been five years since then, but I still cannot forget that feeling.

Last night, when I was watching a live TV news program, a big earthquake hit Kyushu, Southern Japan. The epicentre was very far from my current place and I didn’t feel any shaking. But the news program revealed the impact of the earthquake, little by little, and kept reporting a series of aftershocks. Now I feel sympathy. If I didn’t experience Great East Japan Earthquake, I might have been merely surprised. If pain is avoidable, it should be avoided. But knowing pain lets you feel other people’s pain.

What I can do for them now is… donation? My current place is close to one of the most sacred Shinto shrines, Atsuta Jingu. When I go to my office and come back, I always pass in front of that. Today, on the way home from work, I visited Atsuta Jingu and prayed for the casualties. I hope people in Kyushu will soon feel relieved and feel safe.


As far as I know, the human is the only creature on the earth that smile. (Some animals often look like thay are smiling but it’s human’s way of interpretation.) On the other hand, the human is the only creature that lies “intentionally”. (Some animals and insects “fake”, but they do it instinctively.) When human’s those unique characteristics are combined, they make fake smile. But unlike artworks or brand goods, you don’t have to be an expert to distinguish between real and fake; natural smile makes you smile, but fake one doesn’t.

Today I had a chance to talk with a nice girl who makes me smile with her smile. I honestly told her that, and she told me that I’m not the first one who told her that. When she worked at a fastfood restaurant, she made her coworkers smile, and they made their customers smile. When her coworker told her that, she was happy. What a nice story! I was happy to hear that. Not many people enjoy working at a fastfood restaurant, right? But it’s not surprising that she liked the job. Honestly, I envied her.

On weekdays when I work, I often forget that I can smile. It sucks.

Now I’m eating and drinking at a Soba place. Some of the workers here (one of them makes cocktail, so probably I can call her bartender thought this is not a bar) make nice smile to make me smile. Now The Beatles “Let it be” is playing. Now, suppose this is a sign, what I should do is to let everything be as it is and smile!? Ha! Autually it’s not bad. Let’s see.

Third attempt failed. Am I lucky?

It’s always good to visit Niagara Falls. It looks differently in different seasons. It’s good to visit there with people who enjoy the scenery while some people take a glance at the falls and go home. Today I visited there again, but not for pleasure. I needed to go to the border service agency to extend my stay in Canada as a visitor. I parked my car at the agency, walked to U.S. and walked back to Canada to re-enter as a visitor.

Niagara Falls

I applied for permanent residency early this year, but one document expired before the immigration office makes a decision and I turned out to be ineligible because of that. I was informed of it yesterday. It’s a long story but I have been in “implied status” to legally stay in Canada, and becoming ineligible means that I have to leave Canada immediately. Since I am not ready to leave here right now, I chose to extend my stay as a visitor. This does not mean I cannot be an immigrant. Actually I can re-apply, and I’m sure I will do it soon after settling down in Japan.

This was my third attempt to apply for immigration to Canada and the next one will be the fourth. When I graduated from the University of Calgary, international students were allowed to do job hunting for only three months after graduation, and it was not long enough for me. After going back to Japan from Calgary, I applied for immigration as a skilled worker, but my skill was not “good enough” to be an immigrant. I don’t know why it is so difficult for me to be an immigrant in Canada, but I’ll keep trying anyways.

Now I think I was laid off by the uncivilized company at the right time. Leaving a company is always tough as I have experienced several times in the past. If I was not laid off, I would have had to leave the company from myself and might have left negative impression. And more importantly for me, I wouldn’t get compensation from the company. As I wrote in the previous post, layoff could be a chance to release me from a demanding life. I’ve lived on compensation for nearly two months, and since I’ve been in “implied status” which prevents me from getting a job, I couldn’t do serious job hunting but rather spent time on reconsidering what I have done from a different perspective as I wrote in a recent post, and focused on mindful living. Life is really unpredictable, and I’ve never thought of this scenario.

I’m lucky, so far. Whether I am really lucky or not depends on what will happen next, but I shouldn’t try to predict it. One good thing is that I feel I’m more receptive to unexpected events than before. Instead of trying hard to predict the future and prepare for it, I will try to retain this state and improve my flexibility, which is easily forgotten when things go as expected. I’m lucky to be unlucky.

As I wrote at the beginning, it is good to visit Niagara Falls with people who enjoy the scenery. Visiting there alone is not fun, but one good thing was nobody rushed me (seriously, some people rush others after taking a glance at the falls). I’ll come back and visit there again, though I don’t know it will take half a year or a year. Let things happen, and we’ll see.

Niagara Falls seen from back

Business as usual

It’s good to start a weekday morning with a cup of carefully brewed coffee with a ceramic coffee dripper. Why can I afford this? Because I was laid off yesterday morning. Since a long time ago we had been aware that “some” people would be laid off. On Monday this week, we got to know that it would be 108 people and a list of 96 of those was posted right away. In Wednesday morning, I was told in person that I was one of the other 12. Some tens of minutes later, I was at home. It’s just business as usual.

Did what didn’t kill me make me stronger? As I often mention, I know that no one reads this blog and I write this for myself. It’s good to know what I though and felt in the past. I remember that I wrote what I felt when I lost a job in an old post, and read it again now. At that time, I was so depressed. So far I am not that much depressed but I don’t know whether it is because I know that unemployment does not kill me or because I am now taking time to accept the reality. Whichever the reason is, I will start looking for a new job again anyways. Why not right now? Because I need rest for now.

Yesterday right after being sent home, I decided to go to my favourite place in Toronto, ROM, Royal Ontario Museum, instead of being depressed at home. As I wrote in a previous post, ROM is one of places where I can find I am still myself. Being unemployed is not a good thing, obviously, but this could be a good period to think of myself. One good thing now is, as I wrote in another previous post, that I can see the vast sky with little obstacle from my room, which is very different situation from when I was unemployed in the past, although the rent is not kind for a guy without a job.

After visiting ROM, I walked around the water front, and found this view.


What I thought of then is an old Japanese song that I mentioned in an old post, which goes;

Those who don’t have money, come to me. I don’t have either, but don’t worry. Look at the blue sky, white clouds. It’ll work out someday.
Those who don’t have a job, come to me. I don’t have either, but don’t worry. Look at that burning sunset. It’ll work out someday.

I hope everything will work out someday. Fingers crossed.

RIP Robin Williams

Many people in the world must have started this week with shocking news; Robin Williams passed away. He was one of my most favourite Hollywood actors.

As I wrote in an old post quite a while ago, Patch Adams, starring Robin Williams, is one of my favourite movies. See the old post for a very brief description of the movie (ironically, according to the news, he had suffered from depression before committing suicide). I am, again (or “still” in a sense), in a discouraging situation; I do something I did not hope to do when I planned to come to Canada. Now I should remember the feeling: the feeling of being encouraged by encouraging others, recalling what Robin Williams showed in the movie.

One good thing in this discouraging situation is that I have chances now to help and encourage others by talking about my experience. My Japanese friends work for an agency to support Japanese who come to Canada to learn English. One of the services they provide to those students is to pick them up at an airport and give them a ride to their host family, and I help them with my car. On the ride, I often talk about my experiences: how I have learned English, what living in a foreign country (i.e., Canada) is like, etc., which some of them find helpful. And I find helping and influencing other people with my experience encourages myself, just like Adams finds healing others heals himself.

R.I.P. Robin Williams, thank you for showing the courage to encourage others.

August 12, 2014Permalink

The Sky

Oops, I did it again! I have not updated this blog for a month!

But this time, I have a different reason; I have been crazy busy because I moved to a new place, an apartment room! As I mentioned in the previous post, I did not like the former place. It’s small, dirty, noisy, and very uncomfortable. I wrote in the previous post that I hoped the new place would be my peaceful place. It’s been two weeks since I moved in, and it is becoming my relaxing space. It is quiet, spacious for one person, and since I moved from a furnished room to an unfurnished room, I’m making it my style. Above all, as I mentioned in the previous post, the view is fantastic! It’s on the 30th floor. I can see the horizon without obstacle.

I did not know watching the sky is that much fun. It changes everyday, different at every moment. It was about a year ago when I wrote about my own weather. At that time, I was “fired”, and the sky had been overcast for a couple of weeks. I was so depressed. But now watching the sky is fun even when it is overcast. One of the reasons must be the current situation. As I wrote in the previous post, life is uncontrollable. I cannot say my life is stable. But at least now I have a full-time job, which makes me feel less anxious. I know, as I wrote a year ago, I should have my own weather, my value. But I admit that my feeling is still affected by the weather. Another reason is probably the vastness of the sky. When I lived in Orillia and wrote that post, I watched the sky from a small window. Now nothing obstruct the view. Even when the entire sky is overcast, I can find changes at every moment.

Interesting finding here is that I, like many people, enjoy both the sky in the daytime and the night view, town lights at night. They are totally different; the sky is the beauty of the natural world, and the night view is perfectly artificial, like the photo in an old post. Both are not meant to be beautiful, but people find them attractive. Some people say that the sense of beauty is evolutional, which I partially agree but not totally. For example, people find symmetrical face is “beautiful”, and this is because being symmetry is a sign of healthiness and human beings have evolved in a way that we select a healthy partner for a better chance to produce healthy offspring, thus people find symmetrical face is attractive. I do not totally agree with this hypothesis simply because it is not romantic. And I know many ugly and healthy people (oops!). Whether this theory is true or not, it does not explain why people think night view is beautiful. As a designer, it should be good to know why people are attracted by beautiful things, which gives us a hint for designing something attractive. But the origin of the sense of beauty still remains a mystery.

Anyways, let’s enjoy the view day and night. My new room is becoming my relaxing place. Probably I need a couple more weekends to make it decent enough to invite my friends. And then, let’s have a party!

April 21, 2014Permalink