A noticing walk in winter

It’s winter in Yokohama.

{Okay, I confess
that it’s not cold
compared to
the Ottawa-popsicles
of my childhood
but for two ex-pats
who moved here from Bangkok,
it might as well be outer Mongolia.}

Last week
a snow storm
closed Tokyo for a day.
Like a newborn animal,
a slick, four-legged thing,
the city got up
on its feet.


Winter makes me happy.
I’m not entirely sure
if it’s Canadian DNA
or my own
personal layer
of insulation
but walking outdoors
in winter
is my very favourite sport.

Yesterday we hosted the SAT
at my school.
Perhaps hosted
is too cozy a word
given the circumstances.
The SAT is a
{slightly evil}
standardized test
for high school kids
headed for college
in America.
And me?
I’m the SAT-boss.
{It’s a glamorous job.}

Leaving school
we bumped into a big-drama sky
over the harbour.
A don’t-mess-with-me

We left that sky alone
and turned north-west
towards the foreigners graveyard
and the sun.
The sidewalks of the bluff
were crowded with tourists,
Japanese exploring
their own city
and country.


They are weekend people,
the Japanese.

Making the most
of the days
without work,
they travel
in beautifully dressed packs.
Three generations of families,
gaggles of friends,
and pods of tourists
who arrive in skinny-busses
from cities-away.

I try to remember
to stay to the left.
Is that the rule?
Or more of a guideline?

Walking north
I say hello
to the dead people.
Passing a cemetery
on our daily walk home
lends perspective.
We live.
We die.
That’s the whole story.
The living…
that’s the only part
that’s my business.


A family on a wooden bench
shares lunch in the park.
Hungrily they huddle around
shiny black bento boxes.
A sand-coloured dog
in a light pink tee-shirt
plays fetch with its owner.
California surf-dog.
There’s a bridge in the distance.
The Spanish word
for crossing over.


On Motomachi Shopping Street
I see the sun.
I’m sucked
into the past.
As a kid I drew the sun
as a burning ball of yellow.
The rounder the better.
Here is the sun
of my childhood.
I want to raise my hand,
tell someone,
“Look what I made.”


From our balcony,
I see that Fuji-san
is also outside playing.
I wave.
She says,
did you see that sun?
It’s totally legit.”


    1. Thanks, Haruko-chan. It’s interesting that you and another reader commented on this mixture of happiness and sadness. It was such a lovely walk for me… the end of a long work day (on a weekend) and I felt so grateful for the fresh air and that perfectly round sun 🙂

    1. Hi there.
      Fuji-san and Fuji-sama are nicknames for Mount Fuji… I was imaging what it would be like if Mount Fuji, from her amazing vantage point, commented about the roundness of the sun.
      I work with Japanese and non-Japanese kids at an international school. They definitely say “legit”… it was THE word for 2012.
      Dude is my word… a cheeky surf-dude word for a middle-aged Canadian woman living in Japan.

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