I sometimes realize that I was the youngest in my family and that I’m now living at an age they never reached. In a moment of melancholy, I turned to Google Maps to revisit my childhood neighborhood. It was a bad idea. The area had been developed beyond recognition, with high-rise condos, four-lane roads, and shopping malls replacing woods, streams, and grassy fields of my memories. These condos are now filled with families making their own memories, and I no longer belong there.
I should have known.
Then, I remember the song “Furusato,” which means “My Hometown” in Japanese. Any Japanese expatriate will hum along when they see the lyrics. Some may choke up with tears, others may smile with nostalgia, and still others may feel a longing for the place they once called home. Here is a rough translation of the song:
“Fish swam in murmuring brooks, Rabbits ran wild as I chased them
I carry these memories wherever I roam
My old country hometown Where the mighty mountains shine verdant
My old country hometown Where crystal clear water runs”
With this song, I can still feel the warmth of the sun and smell the fresh scent of the fields. I see shades of green. Snow-capped mountains in the distance. Gentle blue of the spring sky. Swallows cut through the air. I hear my family calling my name to see little fish in the brook. “Come here, Misako. Look, fish!”
I was loved.
And that is more than enough to remember.