Riding my bike past Shinhama Park

Yesterday I needed (and wanted) to go to the city library.  It’s a short bike ride away, and I passed by Shinhama Park. I saw this wild creature!  What could it be? A lynx? A panther? A tiger? A lion?

Too fast for me!  It’s obviously hunting. It’s probably not safe for me to get too close…or I might be its dinner.

Oh, no! It sees me!  I know, I’ll shoot it!  With my camera, of course.

See its eyes? That means it has the ability to do magic. I better leave or it might turn me into a statue or something worse.

Back to my bicycle and off to a place of pages and words: the library.

Is Amy Lange Kawamura my real name?

Yes, it is!

“Lange” is my maiden name and I married a man whose surname is “Kawamura.”

Lange is a German name meaning long or tall.  Kawamura is a Japanese name meaning literally River Village.  (Kawa=River  Mura=Village)

My first name is interesting because it is very similar to the Japanese female name Emi.  For this reason, I don’t like going by Amy Kawamura because it makes me sound as if I myself am of Japanese descent. (Although virtually everybody in Japan calls me Amy Kawamura or Kawamura Amy.  The idea of women using both their maiden name and husband’s name, or even their own maiden name only, has not caught on in Japan.*)

Despite not being of Japanese descent, I’ve lived here longer than all Japanese teens and children.  So that’s odd!

Some tidbits:

—-I remember when Japan was not “cool” and it was still somewhat considered the enemy of the United States (not technically, but by popular culture.)  Lots of older American men had fought in the Pacific War and this carried over to TV shows like The Love Boat (a seventies show.)  Sample episode: Can old white American guy tolerate being on same boat as Japanese man, who reminds him of the war?

—In the eighties and early nineties, Japan became an ecomomic powerhouse.  This brought on feelings of envy and competition in the U.S.  For example, Michael Keaton’s movie: Gung Ho, which comes in at #35 on one internet’s list of most racist movies. In 1992, Michael Crichton’s book Rising Sun was published, about the competitiveness of Japanese companies.

—When I met husband in 1993, Japan was not cool in America.  (At least not in mainstream America.) Grocery stores did not sell sushi yet. Ghibli was not known in the U.S.  Pokemon did not exist in the U.S.–it would not be introduced until 1998.  Manga (meaning Japanese comics translated into English) could not be bought at mainstream stores like Barnes and Noble.

Japan is now considered cool in the United States. I notice this especially among young females.  Yay! I’d like to see this more with all cultures of the world. I really believe all cultures have beauty and mystery and excitement.  All should be considered “cool.”

*Rarely, very rarely, the man will change his surname to his wife’s surname.  She will keep her own. This is virtually always if she is last in the line, and the family wants to preserve the surname.  In this case, HE is joining her family, rather than the other way around.  I knew a man who got married and did this.

This post does not have anything to do with Fukushima, but just letting you all know who I am.

Autumn Leaves: Shinhama Park vs. Momiji Park

One of the Japanese teachers in my Wednesday class enjoys hiking, and he told me yesterday that now it is the peak season for autumn leaves in Fukushima City.  Today I went to a park that is really close to my house.

This park is called Shinhama Park. Shin means “New” and Hama means “Beach” so New Beach Park if literally translated….but that doesn’t make sense to me at all!

It’s a wonderful park and I spent a lot of time here when my son was young.  It is well-maintained…the building with the green roof is the administration building and during the day there is always somebody there working.

In my Haruka trilogy (the books I have written, but not yet published), this is the park they visit. Those are the restrooms.  Of course, the restrooms are always open to the public….but immediately after the earthquake there was no running water, so they would have been closed and locked up.  If you look hard, you can see a caretaker raking leaves.

I left Shinhama Park on my bicycle and headed down the street to Momiji Park. It’s about seven minutes away by bike.

Momiji Park is right next to the Kencho Building for Fukushima Prefecture. (The Fukushima Prefectural Building which administrates the prefecture.)  This used to be the site of a castle, but the castle no longer exists.

Here we are at Momiji Park. Momiji means “maple leaves” or “autumn leaves” so you can see why I wanted to visit this park in November.

It is a very different style than Shinhama Park.  It’s a traditional Japanese park, whereas Shinhama Park is a modern park for children to play.

Very peaceful!

A map of the area. Shinhama at the bottom.  Momiji at the top. On the right is Fukushima City’s main train station.