Finding JAPAN

OK, so I need to tell you a crazy story.

From 1991-92, I lived in northern Japan. Although I lived far from the other exchange students in my program, I did see them occasionally for Rotary events. When I did, we tended to sing the title track from Tsuyoshi Nagabuchi’s album JAPAN. I adore this album, which came out in ’91 and features folks like Roy Bittan (E Street Band) and Arnold McCuller (Phil Collins, Lyle Lovett, James Taylor). This song means a lot to me, and the album means a lot to me too.

Last year I lost everything I’ve ever owned — my entire record and CD collection, all my books except my poetry books, most of my photos from my entire life, my journals … everything. Included in that loss was my copy of JAPAN.

The other day, Elaine and I were working at Webster’s and taking things out from under some bins. She came across a box of world music CDs and handed one to me, asking if I could read it. Against every possible chance, it was a copy of Tsuyoshi Nagabuchi’s JAPAN. I was absolutely stunned. There’s no reason at all for this CD to be in Webster’s. It’s a 23-year-old CD that came out in Japan and, as far as I know, wasn’t released in the US.

I took it from her with trembling hands and my heart pounding. Then I ran over to the CD player and cranked up the first track. I stood there for the whole six minutes with it blasting through the store, I’m sure confusing our customers.

Life is weird and unpredictable and often wonderful. And I have JAPAN back.

japan

POEM: my first night in Japan

miso_soup

my first night in Japan
(for the Inoue family)

I slept for twenty-four hours
at least that’s how I
remember it happening

then we had miso soup with
tiny clams in the bottom
of each wooden bowl

we were seated around
a dining room table
on regular chairs

all things I’d been told
not to expect to find
10,000 miles from home

it was my host mom, brother
two sisters and me;
obaasan ate in her own room

we brought her a tray, some
for her, some for the shrine
to her late husband

it was when we put our hands
together to remember him
that I fell in love with Japan

19 November 2013
Oak Street