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you probably know this, but babies cry. they don’t just cry. they cry like the universe is ending and our life is actually a total farce. elijah barely cried at all during the first couple of days, while we were still in hospital. paul and i were saying to each other, ‘hey, our baby doesn’t cry!’. needless to say, we were fooling ourselves. he started crying hard in our car driving home from the hospital. his face was so red that i thought he was feeling pain or something. it was probably him feeling something different in the air that would tell him he was no longer in the womb. it must have been pretty shocking — i thought he’d blow out the windows. i’m pretty sure his crying voice reached the top of mount everest.

when he was hungry, he wouldn’t cry too hard and his crying would cease when i fed him. but as the night fell and he got tired, he would cry harder and harder. building from loud crying up to ‘i can’t believe anyone is capable of crying this hard’ crying. paul used to say it was like a gear shift; 1st gear: mild conversational crying, up to 5th gear: unbelievable death-metal crying. i was thinking it was more like 28th gear. i used to visualize being blown away by the sound of his screaming and floating in the soundless universe.

he would start crying around 8pm. he was very punctual – true yamato spirit. paul and i used to joke around by counting down to 8pm and bang! he would start crying. it wasn’t that precise but close enough. we looked for an on/off switch or a volume dial in his body, but we couldn’t find anything like that. i guess babies in canada don’t come with such features. so we did our best to calm him down and make him comfortable by rocking and walking and cuddling etc. some people said he was colicky, but i think he was just sensitive and punctual. after pondering why he was crying that hard, paul and i came to think that he needed to get his extra energy out to help himself fall asleep.

it must have been hard for him to get used to a different situation – from the womb to the outside world. as an experiment, i sank my body in a warm bath and got out from it and saw how it would feel. it felt very cold and alone since there was nothing wrapping me anymore. maybe that’s how he felt too.

once he fell asleep, he usually didn’t cry hard in the middle of night, only when he wanted to be fed (every 2 to 3 hours). but suddenly, when he was four months old, he started crying all day and all night. his first tooth was coming in. no wonder he was putting his fingers or whole fist in his tiny mouth a lot. it must have been very painful and uncomfortable. after a few days, he settled down back to his usual pattern.

the magical day came at the beginning of the fifth month, in november. he just stopped crying that — cold turkey. he was like a different person. he still cries when he can’t get what he wants, but now he doesn’t just cry and cry for no reason. nowadays, when he cries, he sounds angry, not helpless.

to be honest, it has been pretty hard to get used his crying voice and to have to deal with all of the things he wants every single day. i didn’t want to get too stressed out because i didn’t want elijah to get a negative feeling. so i’ve had to find a way to go through this period somewhat positively.


  • i used to ask elijah to cry even harder. since it’s an endurance game in a way, if i tried to stop him from crying, it would just accelerate my stress level because sometimes he just didn’t stop crying. so i said to him, ‘go ahead and cry. i know it’s a tough life. it’s okay to cry’. he would go ahead to cry even harder, but wish granted, i didn’t feel as bad as before.
  • paul would pretend to cry even harder than elijah could. elijah realized he was not the only one who was crying – no prince treatment. he seemed shocked by it – rival!
  • i would use his crying time for my exercise hour. since i had to rock and walk him for awhile, i might as well use the time for my own sake. i would work on my legs by doing squats. the longer he cried, the better. i got some exercise done – hurrah!
  • teamwork. when i thought i couldn’t handle it, i gave elijah to paul and got the hell out of the room and be alone. paul was working long hours so this chance didn’t come very often, but even a few minutes of alone time refreshed me a lot and felt energized to go back to take care of him.

equipment and technique:

  • hot sling. i used this a lot when elijah was very tiny. it wrapped him as if he was in the womb. he looked comfortable and right down to sleep. he outgrown this very quickly. i probably used it for a few months only.
  • baby bjorn. this was useful since paul was able to put it on too. very comfortable. shoulder supports let us carry him without much pain. i used it to go for a walk everyday. he would stop crying once he was outside — once again, uchi-soto yamato spirit! and also we used it whenever we took him with us to buy groceries.
  • bouncing ball. i have a big white exercise ball that i bought for decorative purposes. turns out this was very useful to rock elijah as i was able to rest my arms on my lap.
  • swing. we should have bought one earlier — we got it just a month before he learned to sit up and pull himself out of it. elijah seemed to like being rocked to sleep — he had a few afternoon naps with this.
  • making white noise by saying gentle and rhythmic ‘shhhhh’ sound in his ear. this was maybe the best trick. it always helped him calm down. but now that he’s older, if i try this he just cries harder.

if you are new parents and going through this tough period, hang in there. it’s tough, but this period won’t last forever. soon, you’ll be seeing happy baby smiles all around. ganbatte kudasai!

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watanabe mari

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these are some photos of ‘tinyshop‘ show at double punch gallery in san francisco. the curator, antoi calls this wall “cute wall” and my postcards are on it — yay! she displayed so nicely. i wonder where my matchboxes are…?

i wish i could go see the show… those little creatures that the artists made are so good.

i like naoshi‘s work so much!  she will be showing her works at mogra gallery in shibuya, tokyo (12/27 – 1/12).  i’m going to tokyo for my show (1/7 – 1/11) at cafe pause.  so i’m totally going to go check her out.  it looks like i missed a ‘chindogu’ show at mogra gallery…  tears.

i submitted matchboxes as well as some postcards. they are for sale.

(photos from ‘tinyshop’ blog)

Nov 21, 2007 – Jan 11, 2008
opening night: Nov 24, 2007, 6pm-9pm

double punch gallery
1821 Powell Street @ Filbert
2nd Floor
San Francisco, CA 94133

tinyshop info: www.tinyshop.blogspot.com

my profile page on tinyshop

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tonight is the opening of the group show, “girls at play” at compound gallery. i’ll be flying to portland all day today — no direct flight from saskatoon, so we have to change planes in calgary and vancouver. i hope elijah will be happy and sleepy all day.

the curator from the gallery contacted me back in july and invited me to be part of this show. he said the theme would be “twisted eroticism”. i’ve never tried to draw anything erotic, so i wasn’t sure why he asked me. but then i remembered that some of my drawings show up on sexy websites from time to time, especially the ones with naked breasts. it’s a little strange to me that people find my drawings to be erotic, since i don’t think of them that way.

i’m not very good at drawing around a theme, or doing anything on purpose. i tend to get heavy mind-constipation worrying about whether my work will fit with what i’ve been asked to do, or if anyone will understand it. as a good japanese citizen, harmony is very important. so i end up thinking a lot about the other people and the situation, instead of just drawing what i feel like drawing.

i didn’t get much done for this show until the end of september. it was elijah’s super-fussy season around age 2-3 months. then, when i had time to think about drawing, i couldn’t decide what to do for this show.

after all that mind-blowing mind-constipation, i decided i wouldn’t care what i was supposed to do for the show. i just started drawing whatever came to my mind: first there was a girl playing nintendo wii with her breasts, then there were some roosters doing strange things (i didn’t realize what the other word is for “rooster”), then finally there were some giant hearts attached to a stump body of a schoolgirl. maybe some people will still find it sexy but it doesn’t seem that way to me. i was just trying to make myself laugh.

i’m happy the show was given the title “girls at play”. i didn’t know the title until just recently, after doing most of the drawings. it’s good that i drew the girl playing with the wii. but even the other drawings are just me playing around with my pencils, so it still fits with the theme.


i hope people have fun looking at my drawings. if you’re in portland tonight, come to compound gallery. i’m not very chatty and don’t make much sense, but i’d be very happy if you are there.

here is the set of drawings i’m showing. you can click the images to enlarge, and go through them like a slideshow.




my original drawings can be purchased from compound gallery’s online shop (and at the gallery, in portland). i will be making prints of a few of these drawings and adding them to my online shop.

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

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paul, elijah and i spent a week in ontario this summer. we went to visit our family and friends there.

we went to georgian bay, kingston and ottawa. it was a very busy schedule, but we managed to get a few hours in toronto to visit one place we really wanted to go – J-town!

J-town is a little japanese mall in the suburbs in toronto. there are a few small shops, and a grocery store, and a restaurant. i bought a lot of japanese books and groceries, things that i can’t usually buy in canada.

best of all, i found a package of sansai (mountain vegetables)! it’s been a long, long time since i ate sansai. sansai gohan and sansai soba are my favorite.

since elijah was born, i’ve learned to prep supper after eating supper the night before. this way, i don’t have to spend as much time in the kitchen in the evening, when elijah usually turns into mr. fussypants :D

recipe for sansai gohan

  • 3 cups rice
  • 660ml water
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1.5 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1.5 Tbsp sake
  • 0.5 tsp salt
  • 200g sansai
  1. wash rice and soak in the water for 30 minutes
  2. boil sansai in hot water and drain
  3. put rice and water in the rice cooker
  4. add sugar, soy sauce, sake and salt and mix well
  5. place sansai on top of the rice
  6. cook until it’s done.

you can add dried shiitake and fried tofu if you like.

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this is my attempt to draw a newspaper-style comic. the caption says:

“anything you want to say?”

“…………………….. no.”

as a japanese, i know many different ways to apologize. humbly apologizing is a japanese tradition. somehow i think people in western countries might not have as many techniques for giving an apology. here’s an instructional video prepared by social scientists at the japan culture lab, designed to help everyone appreciate the japanese art of apologizing, and learn how to use these techniques for themselves.

also posted on videosift.

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director: kosai sekine

best short film, cannes 2006

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most recipes for osechi ryori (traditional japanese new year’s dishes) make enough to feed a family of four for three days. my family is only two people (paul and i) so far, so i didn’t want to make too much. we were just planning to eat osechi ryori for one day, because we can never do the same thing again and again.

so, i did some research and found a japanese website that shows you how to make osechi ryori for two people. i think it’s kind of romantic…

even though i was just making osechi for two, it took a lot of prep work and cooking to make all the various small dishes. my admiration for my mother’s effort in preparing osechi for my family every year grew and grew…

while i was cooking, i amused myself by thinking about how osechi is actually a bit lame. i might offend some japanese people by saying so, but it’s true. osechi is full of “dajare” (bad puns) and “oyaji-gyagu” (“old man gags”, corny jokes). so many of the dishes have names that are meant to bring health and good luck, but they sound like really bad jokes.

for example:

  • black beans are “kuro-mame” : “mame ni ikiru” means “live healthy”
  • kelp (kobu) : “yorokobu” means joy
  • snapper (tai) : “medetai” means joyful, fortunate
  • japanese sour orange (“daidai“): “daidai” also means “generation after generation”
  • shrimp : we eat shrimp in order to live until our backs are curved with age (shrimp’s back is curved, so…)
  • gobo (burdock root) : just like gobo, live thin and long with roots spread in the earth.

…what can i say. it might be hard for english speakers to understand the jokes, but believe me, they’re lame. maybe we’re supposed to start the new year with a good laugh, but i’m not sure if i can laugh without raising my eyebrows a little or thinking of a rimshot at the end of the each joke.

the good thing is, the jokes are so lame that they’re kind of adorable. at least, i’m used to it.

recipes (clockwise from the left of the photo)


  • konnyaku 1/2 cake
  • soy sauce 2 tbsp
  • mirin 1 tbsp
  • chili flakes
  • sesame oil
  1. blanch the konnyaku in hot water
  2. slice the konnyaku (about 7mm). make a cut in the center of the flat surface. take the top and pull it through the hole to make a weave effect.
  3. heat the oil in a pan. add konnyaku, soy sauce, mirin and chili flakes.
  4. saute for a couple of minutes, just for flavor
  5. garnish with carrots cut into decorative flowers

tataki gobo (pounded burdock)

  • gobo 2 stalks (thin)
  • rice vinegar (dash)
  • white sesame seeds 3 tbsp
  • sauce: rice vinegar 50ml, mirin 2 tbsp, japanese soup stock 2 tbsp, pinch of salt
  1. wash gobo, pound it lightly with a rolling pin, and cut into pieces 4-5 cm long. if the pieces are too thick, cut them lengthwise in half
  2. put the gobo in a small pot, cover with water and add vinegar. bring to a boil and cook for about 10 minutes, until soft. drain.
  3. toast white sesame seeds in a pan. cool, then grind.
  4. add the ingredients for the sauce to a pan, bring them to a boil. add the gobo and cook until the liquid reduces by half.
  5. turn off the heat. add the white sesame.
  6. garnish with snow peas

kobu maki (kelp roll)

i improvised this one, so if i remember correctly…

  • kelp 2 x 10cm cut pieces, soak in a water for about 10 mins. save the water
  • kanpyo, soak in water for 5 mins
  • gobo, 4 small pieces (saved from the tataki gobo recipe after blanching)
  • carrot, 4 small pieces, blanched
  • sauce: soy sauce 2 tbsp, sugar 2 tbsp, sake 1 tbsp
  1. put two sticks each of gobo and carrot on top of a sheet of kelp and roll it
  2. tie the kelp roll with a short strip of kanpyo. trim off the uneven ends
  3. place the rolls in a pan. cover them with the water used for soaking the kelp
  4. simmer on low heat for 20 minutes or so
  5. add the sauce and simmer for 15 minutes

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groovisions are a japanese design group from kyoto! for these videos they designed a little digital world so the funky guy can march around in it. this video really makes me happy.

the videos are for a kyoto dj called halfby. the first song is “rodeo machine” and the second is “screw the plan”.

i’ve also posted this to VIDEOSIFT.

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director: hiroshi chida
polygon pictures

watch this video on VIDEOSIFT.

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