Join me, once again, as we go a’callin holler-style, this time to visit my friend, and fellow hollerer, Junko!
Junko is very close to her family and returns to Japan at least twice per year and attends each of her father’s Buddhist funeral ceremonies, which have occurred so far on the day of the funeral, the seventh day, the 49th day, and the first, third and seventh year, respectively. The above photo shows where the priest reads the sutras at the ceremony. (Photo/Description Junko)
When I moved into The Holler almost 5 ½ years ago, I was quite intimidated. Although the house was new, there was a scorpion problem. I soon met the resident coyotes who loved to come up way too close to us, unnerving me. There were tarantulas. The rattlesnakes also made themselves known in a most disconcerting manner. The first encounter occurred when I went to throw out trash in one of the garages in my flip-flops and came within inches of stepping on a quite aggressive Southern Pacific Rattlesnake who refused to leave. I now wear handmade Chippewa Rattlesnake boots whenever I go out.
In addition to the snakes and insects, there was property to look after, landscaping to be completed with drainage before rainy season, extensive brush to clear in preparation for fire season, and orchards to maintain. There were septic systems and propane tanks. There were free-ranging cattle that liked to break through their fence and eat our grapefruit trees. There were abandoned dogs that people dropped off since it was an isolated area. Very thoughtful of them I know.
As if all these “challenges” were not enough, there was a quite complete lack of neighbors, which of course, was one of the major reasons we moved out here. But it also meant there were no people in hollering distance of our holler i.e., we were on our own. We did have one set of neighbors, but they were more than a mile away. Still they were the only people around, and had moved in several months before we did, so they were more experienced with rural life here than we were. Their names were Kevin and Junko. Like everyone out here Kevin and Junko have a very protective dog. Meet Kuro, who doesn’t hesitate to challenge coyotes or pit-bulls (I owned this breed once and can attest to their boldness and protective natures.)
Yep, Kuro the Pomeranian, holds her twelve-year old-own, out here, and Junko and Kevin adore her!
Since we first met, more than 5 years ago, Junko and I have become very good friends. Junko was born and raised in Japan. She moved to Australia in adulthood and lived for a while on The Gold Coast. She then moved to the Bay Area in San Francisco where she met and married Kevin. Kevin spent part of his childhood growing up in Montana so he liked the rural isolation and beauty of the holler and was experienced with country life. Junko having lived in Tokyo was not.
Hence this friendship was born between a city woman from Tokyo, and a city woman from San Diego, both of us, at sea in this rural environment. I remember thinking if Junko can do this, so can I. The Holler was in so many ways different from her life in Tokyo. She was already acclimated to living in the US, but now she had the additional challenge of country life and the, uhhh, unusual county folks that choose to live out here, and of course their animals.
Whenever anything weird happens out here, and weird stuff happens constantly, she looks to me for verification of whether or not this is normal behavior for Americans. Usually I can reassure her that it is not. I can only imagine what her mother makes of all this when she visits from Tokyo!
Junko and I are now fully adapted to holler life and we have lots of fun together. Junko comes from a long history of Japanese artists. She paints, does traditional Japanese flower arranging (Ikebana) which she has studied for more than ten years, is devoted to yoga, and is a wonderful cook, both of her husband’s beef dishes and her fish ones. Check out some of her paintings:
I am the only member of my family that has not spent significant time in Japan. My children spent a summer alone together in Japan, in college, traveling all over, and my mother spent part of her sabbatical year living in a Buddhist Monastery near Osaka where the monks had all taken a vow of silence (See my prior post about her sabbatical.) My grandparents also spent a lot of time in Japan and collected some wonderful antique art, which I treasure. Someday I would love to visit Junko in Japan. Check out more photos of the beautiful, historic temple Kannonnji:
Junko’s beautiful ceremonial kimono:
Junko leaves us with this link and says, “This link has information about Japanese death anniversaries. It might be a little different from yours. I would like to tell you how ours are.”
The Holler is full of surprises isn’t it? And Junko was, and is, a wonderful surprise. Cheers to you Junko and thank you for sharing this with all of us!