Kind people in my corner of the world


After a little sketch at my favorite organic restaurant, I feel a little more awake. With all of the terrible news that has been going around in the world, it is nice to know that great people are out there. I am more pleased that some of them happen to live in my area. On my way home from class, I went to go buy Imagawayaki from a shop that I have passed since I was thirteen years old. Though I have known of him for years, I have only started talking to the owner recently. A mistake in my schedule a couple of months back gave me the free time and a chance to break the ice with the nice man. Today, we talked about his feelings on learning a new language and the people that pass his stand. He had such an excited look in his eyes when he was speaking that I could not help but smile along with him. I started to get hungry so before I left I asked to buy one Imagawayaki. They would not take the money and insisted that I just have it because I helped them out with the English on their sign for customers. If any of you happen to be in Kansai, I would highly recommend the cute little street shop in Nara.

I got on the train to Ikoma and I was about to head to my favorite restaurant in the area when Sumi stopped me to say hello. The young train man who stands near the ticket wickets never fails to greet people who leave the station. He noticed that my voice was husker than usual and he ran to get me throat medicine. He didn’t think twice about it and came back with some strawberry-flavored Nodoame(のど飴) for me.

It is true that when a kindness is done to you it makes you want to return the favor somehow.

After finishing my food and a quick sketch, I think about how lucky I am to live in my conner of the world with my pencils, paper, and all of the lovely people in my neighborhood.


Generosity on the platform

When I was waiting for the train, I noticed a man from my neighborhood also on the platform. We made small talk and he offered to buy me a drink from the vending machine. It was such a kind gesture for the hot day. As I said “Thank You” and got on my train, I told myself that that is the kind of older person that I would like to be. Sharing what you have, and buying food and drinks just to make the other person’s day.

I sit down and he waved to me from the platform. As the train pulled out of the station, a man that I didn’t know handed me a little teddy bear and got off at the next stop. I don’t know if generosity is actually contagious, but it defiantly made me a little more giving.

How to start a conversation and make friends

By show of hands, who believes in luck?

I don’t know what to call it, but when my walk was coming to an end this past Friday, I was afraid. I was afraid that my good luck streak would run out someday. I was worried that my life and the experiences would become boxed and patterned; packaged nicely for all of the readers. I was worried about becoming fake.

My moods tend to pinball around, and that morning I felt pretty good about myself. I planned to go sketching. I also planned not to plan. I would go where my nose took me, and hoped things would work out. They did, and I ended up having a great day.

At my station, I managed to get into the same elevator as a man from my neighborhood who I had been wanting to meet for ages. He has art sitting outside of this house all of the time. In rain or shine, the Renoir and Picasso copies stay out. I pass that house every time I walk home, and my pace tends to slow down when I walk by The Painting House. I never could find a good excuse to go and introduce myself, but now I had one. My first ten minutes out of the house seemed to be productive, and I told myself that if nothing else interesting happened the rest of the day, I would be happy with just that chance meeting.

I decided on the platform to always look up. No books. Though books are great and much better than watching TV, I find that after reading I come out of some sort of haze. I feel dull and unobservant.

I counted the number of people using cellphones in the train car: 28. Basically everyone was using their cellphone except the young girl behind me. I glanced over at her paper and saw that it had English on it and I guessed that she was studying for a test. As soon as she saw me looking at the notes, she quickly pulled the paper away- slightly embarrassed. That had never happened before so I took that as my cue to chime up.

For those reading this book:


The trick is to say something before you can talk yourself out of it.

She was studying for a listening test at her university and that she had everything down pat but told me that she had no confidence in her English. It didn’t sound fun to study in the heat. I wished her good luck.

We parted ways and I went to the main tourist area of the city. For those who don’t know, I was born and raised in Japan and if I do anything that seems touristy, I start to feel uncomfortable. It pained me at first to take out a camera and take photos of the most iconic things in the area. But the ego slowly calmed down and I got used to it. Though I come to this area all of the time, I felt like I was in a different country because I was more aware. I heard different languages (mostly Chinese) and smelled different smells. My favorite smell being the Lush Stores with air-conditioning. On the opposite side of the spectrum, nothing smells worse to me than Ramen on a hot day. Kudos to the workers who don’t use nose plugs.

After some mindless wandering and photo taking, I ended up in Starbucks. Not exactly exotic, but it did the job. While sitting down for a bit with my well deserved sandwich and a book in hand, I noticed other travelers who also decided to get a Frapacchino. Backpackers, couples, families, it was nice to see.

I went back to glancing at my book and two Germans came in looking for a seat. I was hogging a table of two so I told them they could have my spot. One of them was super tall with long arms. He reminded me of the Abominable Snowman from Monsters Inc. He was also just as friendly and invited me to sit with them. We talked for a while with the running theme of the conversation being, “Never become a flight attendant.”

I had a great day but I found myself in a less-hopeful mood towards the end. Asking again, what do you believe about luck? Is it something that is given to you, or is it something that you make yourself? I’d like to believe it is the latter. You can have all the luck in the world, but if you don’t act on it, you miss the chance for a fun ride.

Just ask these two:


Don’t spend time beating on a wall.




Do not spend time beating on a wall hoping to transform it into a door.

This was on a bag that a woman was holding on the way home from work today. With all of the funny Japanese t-shirts and merchandise, this one made sense. There were many times in my life where I would try to change things that couldn’t possibly change. The fact that change was not possible made me more frustrated and that shallow whisper of, “Maybe… Just maybe”, haunted my mind. You can’t change a person, you can only hope for yourself to change. It doesn’t matter what happens around us, but if your mind is sober and you do what you can in your limited time, beautiful things can happen. It’s nice to know that it’s not our past mistakes that our holding us back, but our current mindset.

I am so grateful for second chances- and that second chance is called now. 

Don’t go down that path.

People tell me that the reason that I have a positive persona is because I have not experienced the harsh reality of life yet.

I never know what to say to those kinds of comments and I find my self apologizing for not having enough bad experiences. While it is true that I have lived a fairly sheltered life, not everything is easy. The internal struggles I create for myself can be suffocating. I often beat myself up for where I fall short, and become my worst enemy. Negative comments from others fuel it, even if they are slight.

One quote that I find comfort in is this one:

All bad events can benefit you and your future.
When I went traveling this past December, I was by myself for the first time. I started to feel alone when things were not working out the way I expected them to. When my mind started to go down that path, I told myself, “No, this is for my own good. Something great will come out of this”. Within ten minutes after having that thought, I made a friend and that event changed the course of my entire trip.
Not allowing negative thoughts into your head is very important. Even though good things might not happen instantly, don’t worry. Positive thinking becomes habit after awhile and you will find yourself attracting terrific experiences.

I’ve still got a job to do.

I’ve still got a job to do.

There are still a lot of different kinds of people that I have to meet. There are seven billion people on this earth and I apparently know a little more than two thousand of them. There are so many more kinds of thinking to be exposed to and so many more people to give high-fives to.

 I’ve still got a job to do.

There are still bushes that I have to dig out of my yard. There will always be another thing to clean and there will always be some more laundry to do. It seems like it will never end and it most likely won’t, but at least appreciate you have the abilities to try something new.

 I’ve still got a job to do.

There are so many different kinds of foods that I have not tried. And there are so many different kinds of dishes that I have not made. My palate is not even close to satisfied, so fill this eager plate.

 I’ve still got a job to do.

So many languages to learn, millions of books to read, so many kinds of music to hear. How can you be tired in a world like this? There is always something happening and moving. Find it, appreciate it, and don’t complain about being bored of living.

 I’ve still got a job to do.

There are still presents and thank you notes I need to send to all of you lovely people. There are still plenty of more smiles and hugs to give out. Plenty of more time to make people happy and secret handshakes to figure out.

 I’ve still got a job to do.

There are still so many who have less of what I have. Many more donations to give and more prayers to whisper and more tears to shed. When it seems like you can’t do anything, the small gestures show that you did.

Never a dull moment in a typical day.

My days are the same yet in many ways different. They become more interesting when I make the effort to notice the stories around me.

A couple of years ago, I would wake up, take a bite of leftovers and be on my way to work. I would come back home, and go to bed. I would feel slightly empty, always looking forward to “later”. Later would come and go, and I would find myself daydreaming again.

My life became different after noticing the little things more. It is so much fun to explain my days now. I get excited telling people about the anecdotes that make up my day.

Every morning I wake up and thank God that I have another day to see the sunrise from our window. Because our view faces the east, we have the pleasure of waking up to fantastic blues and oranges every morning. In the summer we have to be careful though. My sister has woken up with sunburns before. Quite hilarious how I keep forgetting to buy curtains.

After getting out of bed, I write in my morning notes. They say that writing three pages in your journal every morning will help straighten out your life and lead you to where you need to go. It has become quite addicting and I always look forward to venting to the white pages.

My new thing is to watch French movies in the morning. I find it quite classy, don’t you? French movies have such a different style from western ones. My head always feel full the whole day. Plenty of food for thought.

I make my breakfast, which these days consists of spinach salad and fluffy scrambled eggs. After tickling the keys on the piano for a bit, I head off to work. In the morning I run into Mr . Watababe who always insists on buying me bread. I refuse each time because I have a train to catch.

I run past the knife shop and wave to the old man who runs it. By this time I am scurrying to buy my ticket. I hold my bag tight and I run with my head down. I notice the nice designs on the manholes and I tell myself that I’ll take pictures of them someday. I buy my ticket and high five the young train man working at the gate. He started working here about two years ago, and we have been friends ever since.

I whistle while I am on the platform, and the car that I get on is the same one that this elderly gentleman in a wheelchair rides. We have a conversation sometimes. We bump into eachother often, but he always seems surprised to see me.

On my way to work as well, I have some interesting friends. There is the train man at Yarnosato station. We have never talked, but he never hesitates to wave to me and smile. I imagine that he is not as stressed as the others, because nobody looks at you in the eye. They only say “Thank you for riding with us today” in a monotone voice.

The next man is the guard at the supermarket. I always look forward to him giving me a bow with a smile every morning. He shouts and tells me how the weather will be like that day.

There is also the Chinese man who owns the new bikeshop. I say new even though it has been there for over a year and a half. He gives me a nod whenever I pass as well. I bought a bike from there once, but after three months it got stolen. Japan is safe, but that’s the one thing. Bikes get stolen all of the time. If you are not careful like me, they will get pinched right away.

I try to get to work early each day. I do not find rushing pleasant so I leave a half and hour early. I have the most enjoyable job on the planet. I work at an English cafe’ inside a university and I talk to students all day. I feel so lucky after I finish work.

I take a different route back home. I enjoy the change of scenery. I walk briskly to catch the fast train home. I listen to various podcasts and Billy Joel until the Express pulls up at the platform.

After I get back, I have my late lunch. More greens and hot coco. I read whatever book is on my lap and play the piano some more. Depending on my mood I do any of the following: Study a language, paint, sketch , design, write, daydream, or stalk people on Facebook. I just can’t seem to focus on one thing- but it’s great.

I end the day with listening to some Mendelssohn while exersising and/or stretching. I feel exhausted by this time and I hit the hay with my sister. As I sink into the covers, I thank God again for the day.

Like clock-work, I wake up at exactly the same time. At six in the morning the day starts all over for me again. My days are the same ,but different.

I am now on my way home , and my sister will meet me and walk me back. I had three different kinds of cake today along with fabulous Japanese food. I find myself with such great people- how can I not be thankful? I am Looking forward to seeing what tomorrow will bring . 

Thank you so much.