I was going to write a year in review, but I can just take a look at my blogs for the last year and see it. It was a sad year in many ways, but it was also a time of intense happiness and a feeling of purpose. So I happily thank 2016 and embrace the promise of 2017. I think there are great things ahead.
My first outing of the New Year took me to Bios no Oka or Bios Hill situated on the Ishikawa highlands, about a half an hour north of where I live. It is a nature retreat for children to play and adults to regenerate surrounded by orchids, a small pond, topiaries and animals.
There is a lovely little boat ride that takes you around and there is a running commentary that I did not get at all…well maybe one word out of about every 50 or so. Not enough to understand anything, but the view was pretty and the people had a nice calm energy, so it was very pleasant.
Here is what I have experienced being in a land where I don’t speak or understand the words being spoken: body language is the key. When I worked at Mental Health Association of Columbia and Greene Counties, I ran a group called Healthy Relationships. I focused a lot on understanding what people were really communicating without the use of words. I remember that a large amount of our communication is not through verbiage, but in the set of our bodies, the proximity of gestures, the tone of voice, the volume. Words actually are the smallest part of our understanding of each other. So when I go out to places where I am the only English language person there, I just watch everyone else, their interactions and more often than not, I can figure things out. Or I am completely wrong and am totally oblivious to it, either way it all works out in the end!
And joy is universal, children are children everywhere. Although I never wanted any, they are fun to watch and to see them experience things for the first time. Over here, instead of coddling children, they are allowed freedom to explore, freedom to fall down and cry and be comforted by their siblings. It’s beautiful to watch how children are cherished and enjoyed without indulging their every desire. I think it’s a very natural way of being.
As you walk along they have a lovely little restaurant that features the Okinawan ice cream, Blue Seal, so of course I had my favorite, a soft serve Beni-imo (purple sweet potato) ice cream.
So for anyone living here, this is a great way to spend the day. Here is the website in case you want to check it out: http://www.bios-hill.co.jp.e.vr.hp.transer.com/
Akamashite omedetou gozaimasu!
Happy New Year!