ame nimo makezu

ame nimo makezu, by kenji miyazawa

not losing to the rain

not losing to the rain
not losing to the wind
not losing to the snow or to the heat of the summer
with a strong body
unfettered by desire
never losing temper
cultivating a quiet joy
every day four bowls of brown rice
miso and some vegetables to eat
in everything
count yourself last and put others before you
watching and listening, and understanding
and never forgetting
in the shade of the woods of the pines of the fields
being in a little thatched hut
if there is a sick child to the east
going and nursing over them
if there is a tired mother to the west
going and shouldering her sheaf of rice
if there is someone near death to the south
going and saying there’s no need to be afraid
if there is a quarrel or a suit to the north
telling them to leave off with such waste
when there’s drought, shedding tears of sympathy
when the summer’s cold, walk in concern and empathy
called a blockhead by everyone
without being praised
without being blamed
such a person
I want to become

(translation from wiki)

in my cosmic garden

in my cosmic garden

“in my cosmic garden” (12 x 20″)

it’s very tempting to just play with elijah all day long and forget about drawing.

elijah, now 2 years and 3 months old, is a curious boy.  all summer, elijah and i were covered with dirt head to toe, digging holes as deep as we could, and watching ladybugs climb up on our fingers.  i’ve rediscovered that spinning around fast and falling down is fun, and that the sky is actually high and deep, and that getting dirty is relaxing.

i’ve heard that this stage of childhood is called the ‘terrible twos’.  i think children this age are just curious — we should call it the ‘curious twos’.  i want elijah to do as many experiments as he can think of even if he ends up feeling frustrated sometimes.  i try to play with him as much as he wants me to.  but at the end of a long day of running around in the playground and climbing up on monkey bars, i end up exhausted.  after all, i’m not a 2 year old. i’m a middle-aged mama.

when elijah was a baby, i used to stay up late at night drawing.  but with a toddler, it gets harder.  he just doesn’t stop, all day long.  by the time i put the laundry in at night, i need to go to bed and get ready for tomorrow.  i’d get ideas for drawings i wanted to do but i was so busy that i never got around to them.  even when i finally found some time, so many of the images in my mind would be gone, or stuck inside my head, not fresh or flowing out of me.  it’s fun to play with elijah but it was still depressing not to have time or energy to draw.

that’s how things have been going for the 6 months since my solo show opened this spring.  i’ve hardly done any drawings except the little sketches i do for elijah.  he draws more than i do and he seems to be having fun doing it.  i was jealous watching him — i almost forgot how much fun it is to draw.

a few weeks ago, i started to draw again.  all the images in my head started to stream out.  i felt better –drawing really is fun.

i was invited to send a new drawing to the mackenzie art gallery’s gala auction this november.  i took a piece i’d started earlier this month and finished it last saturday night.  it sure is a nice feeling to be drawing again after so long.

this is my first drawing after a long vacation.  it’s called “in my cosmic garden”.  i spent a lot of time playing in the garden and taking care of plants this summer.  my mind is still out in the wild and natural world.

Gala Art Auction

Friday, November 6th, 6:30 pm

With an East Indian theme, we will begin the evening at 6:30 with an appetizer reception, including entertainment, raffle offerings, followed by a Live Art Auction of approx.20 works of original art by local & national artists. The evening will end with our raffle results, dessert, coffee & tea.

Tickets: On sale October 1, 2009 at the Gallery Shop ($100 each)

Limit of 250 tickets available call 584-4295 to reserve.

Auction items will be posted on on October 14, 2009.

summer moments

summer in saskatoon is short.  it was even shorter this year, but it was full of memorable moments.  i remember a few::

  • elijah climbed up the monkey bars and walked across, by himself.
  • i was driving our crashed car to the body shop when the hood opened all the way up and smashed back into the windshield.  no one was hurt.
  • i came home to our house repainted with the color we chose, wondering if i’d like it.
  • elijah looking sorry after he dropped our camera on the concrete patio and broke it.
  • elijah singing ‘people on the road can turn an LOL into a great big OMG‘ — over and over.
  • a young boy bought my handmade toy at the fringe festival.  he took off.  i looked at the money he put in my palm — two dollars short.
  • elijah found a ladybug on a sidewalk.  he was so happy that i was happy.  and he stepped on it.
  • i was saying ‘whee~’ as i playfully tipped the rocking chair back and forth.  elijah who was watching me by my side tamed me “mama, ‘whee~’ shinaide.  abunai kara.” (mama, don’t do ‘whee~’.  because it’s dangerous.)
  • elijah and i picked dandelions for papa late one afternoon.  he held them tight in his palm until he got home.  he gave them to papa.  papa gave him a big hug.
  • elijah ate a whole watermelon in one day, by himself.

i hope your summer is full of beautiful moments…

summer diary, age 7 :: bath with tomoko

bath with tomoko

july 22, wednesday 1981 cloudy

“yesterday, i bathed with tomoko-chan and she washed my head.  it felt very good.”

i still remember the frosted glass with snowflake pattens in the bathroom in the house we lived in from age 5 to 14.  tomoko was the daughter of my mom’s friend.  i think she was older than my brother, who is 3 1/2 years older than me.  she was, my mom and i think, my brother’s first love.  she stayed over a few days during the summer break.  i think she broke my brother’s heart.

she wore a beautiful baby blue long skirt.  her long hazelnut hair swayed as she went upstairs with my brother.  she had big eyes with long eyelashes, like alice from wonderland.  every time she smiled she was like an angel.

maybe she was my first love too.

summer diary, age 7 :: bad medicine

summer diary book, 1981 front cover

my mom sent me a box full of my old diaries, essays, letters and poems.  this is one of the picture diaries that i had to keep as an assignment during summer vacation when i was in grade one.  it looks like i drew it with crayon.  the summer vacation began on july 20 and ended on august 31.  i wrote a diary entry under the drawing.

summer diary, july 21, 1981


“i was forced to take medicine by mother yesterday.  so i threw up.  after i threw up, my throat hurt.”

what a touching story!  can you feel the maternal love?

medicine in japan is very bitter.  Kong Qiu said “good medicine tastes bitter in the mouth…”.  for that, japanese pharmaceuticals are doing an excellent job.

even the kid’s medicine i had to take was also bitter.  they came in liquid and powder form.  my mom used to wrap powder medicine in “オブラート (oblaat)”, which is a tasteless water-soluble gel made of starch.  that way, i wouldn’t taste the bitterness of the medicine.  liquid medicine, on the other hand, had no way to distract from its bad taste — a sickening mixture of cola, cinnamon, dirt and toothpaste in a purple-brown color.  as i got older and more mischievous, i would pour the liquid medicine down the sink and tell my mom that i took it.  i was successfully “taking” the medicine happily in this way until one day when i poured so much down the drain that my mom noticed and figured out what was going on.

i learned that i should never EVER tell a lie to my mom and to stay healthy so that i wouldn’t have to take medicine.

canadian kids don’t have to go through such a rough childhood.

children’s tylenol in canada is flavored cherry, bubblegum, or banana — you name it.  elijah likes the super-sweet medicine so much that he asks for a second helping — saying “more, more” — a red carpet to happy drug addiction.

i can’t wait to introduce him the king of bitter medicine, the original “SEIRO-GAN“!

making my will

paul and i visited a lawyer the other day to make our will made. we are now officially responsible parents.
we wanted to make sure elijah is protected just in case something happens to us, like death.

the meeting was very casual. our lawyer kept notes as we discussed our agenda. he gave us some scenarios:

A: we both perish.
B: one of us perishes
C: we both kind of perish, but barely alive, like brain dead.
D: one of us kind of perish, but barely alive, like brain dead
E: we, including elijah, perish

as we talked about it, i felt so sad that we all are going to die somehow, someday. i think about death a lot, but planning realistically what should happen afterwards was another thing to me. as i overheard paul and the lawyer discussed issues far away at the other end of a small round table, i was thinking about how to avoid the situation where i’m the last one to survive — ‘maybe we might fall from an airplane after having engine trouble. paul and elijah could aim to fall on me, then they can survive. that might take a lot of martial arts practice, but it worth a try…’

then the lawyer’s loud voice brought me back to the discussion —
–“so, yuka! what would you like to do with your artwork?”
–“you mean after i die?”
–“paul and elijah die too?”
–“oh… ahm… burn them?”
(big laugh from both of them)

the lawyer was expecting me to say something like “keep them in our family” or “sell them all” or something like that. the lawyer said, ‘”now i want to take a look at your drawings!”

i was glad that they both laughed at me. i felt much better after that. once again, laughter is my favorite medicine.

today’s elijah :: peekaboo at beacon hill park

after having lived in london, ON for four weeks, we stayed in victoria, BC for one week.

we visited beacon hill park.

it’s time to check out wheels with a stick.

whoa~!  super exciting!

and he never forgets to be adorable.

finally we’re back in saskatoon.  it’s good to be home.  i like it here.

morning glory

during my summer holidays from elementary school, i was supposed to do a drawing every day showing the growth of  a “morning glory” flower i planted in the spring.  it was a combined science and art project.

i always drew the entire made-up 6-week record of the flower growing two days before school started at the beginning of september.  my drawings would end up showing a bigger, more beautiful and impressive flower than actually grew in real life.  a big bloom would show up suddenly in my drawings on august 30th or 31st.

one year, my flower died because i forgot to water it.  i did the same kind of drawings anyway.


(click image to enlarge)

someone wrote me an email recently saying my work knocked his socks off, and that people at his work were wondering where his socks went.

i never heard the idiom “knocked my socks off” before, so i took it literally. i wrote back to him and told him to hold on to his feet. i was thinking about that conversation when i drew this.

this drawing is called “meichuu” (命中), which is japanese for “bullseye”. the kanji literally mean “life center”.

i’m showing this as part of a show called “girls at play”, at compound gallery, in portland. this will be my first show in the US. if you live in the portland area, please come to the show. i’ll be at the opening reception, november 1st.

girls at play

four female artists who represent a new movement in japanese art
(show details)

november 1 – 30
reception november 1st @7pm

compound gallery
107 nw 5th avenue
portland, oregon


welcome to people from Digg — i’m your “midweek weirdness“.

if you like my drawings, there are more on my gallery page.

i realized something… (cock-a-doodle doo)

i mean, this drawing

“shi- shimatta…” (oops…)


this is a pala-pala (flipbook) type story that i drew on yellow post-it notes. i felt so embarassed when i realized this, i had to throw my emotion out somewhere.

i’ve been working on a set of drawings for my part of the group show coming up at compound gallery next month. several of them featured roosters. once i realized this, i stopped drawing roosters and started drawing other things, like a heart with legs sitting on a bench and a boy with breasts for his eyes sewing the head back on to a trout.

i’ll put those drawings up here over the next couple weeks. even the ones with roosters.