Monday, November 1, 2010

Trees and Bushes (Part 3)

This is a photo of the photo. It was the last beautiful bloom in 1997. It lasted a week or so. It was gorgeous, but I had to turn on light even daytime.

Mother was still in the hospital. She was under morphine. Another man came and recommended me to replace a panel upstairs of the apartment. The apartment is old and not a pretty site. (But I appreciate it so that I can still remain in Japan and write and research and enjoy the things I cannot in the U.S.) So, I asked around for advice.

“Your place is old. You can’t help, but to fix it,” my cousin said. She was right about it.

“But, what about the price, 100,000 yen! Isn’t that too expensive?” I said.

“I don’t know. If you have to pay, you have to pay,” she said.

I guessed so. I asked my sister in law for the same advice. It was worse. I probably shouldn’t have asked her for advice, but I couldn’t help it.

“Anything costs much nowadays. It’s probably okay to pay it,” she said.

So, I paid it. Again, I had no reason to doubt this man either. After Mother’s funeral, the man made a visit to me at night.

“Your place is old. You have a lot to fix. I can help you,” the man said. His face was very red. He was probably drinking. I was a bit frightened, but if I yelled hard, my next door neighbor probably could hear me.

By this time, I looked at the work he had done, and it looked to me the panel was painted over it. I used to think he replaced it and painted over it. Now, I think he just only painted it. And I wondered what kind of business he had to go upstairs of the apartment in the first place. He had none. Only a postman and other delivery people would go upstairs. My post box is upstairs because solicitors keep throwing ads into my tiny post box and make the area trashy.

“I don’t need your help anymore,” I said.

“But, but, your brother bowed to me at the funeral and his wife said, ‘Yoroshiku onegaishimasu.’”

“Anyone would say that for greetings,” I said. “I don’t think they meant anything by it.”

He repeated what my sister in law said.

“Please. Please do not come to this house anymore. Tell your wife not to tie her cat to the gate or come into the garden,” I said in a firm voice.

Mother had complained to me before the cat woman came into the garden often. Mother said, “Once, I was taking a nap with the window open. When I awoke, my eyes met her eyes.”

I stared into his eyes.

“I thought your family needed my help. I was only trying to help,” he said.

“No, we don’t. It’s late. Please go home,” I said.

I’m like Mother, but in some way, I’m like my father. Once, my junior high school teacher made a visit to my house and kept drinking sake and didn’t leave. My father lifted him and pushed him to the door to say goodbye. Next morning, Mother said,

“What a bad thing to do! Your father lifted the teacher out of the house!”

I was probably in my room studying or listening to the Beatles the night before. A few weeks later, the teacher called Mother at night and asked her if he could borrow 20,000 yen. That was probably the average salary of a college graduate then. Father and I didn’t know about it until much later. She said she handed him 10,000 yen and apologized that that was all she could afford. Gee. Father was a public servant, and she was a house wife. She taught ocha, but all her tuition money went to buy more tea utensils and kimono.

The following year after Mother died, I got the house. The land is rented. I’m not the land owner. And my older brother received her savings. Then, I invited some of my friends and Mother’s students for tea and to watch cherry blossoms. From the glass door, the sky was pink. Flowers cascaded like a giant umbrella not only onto the roofs and the garden but onto the lane. It almost reached the roof of Electro’s house. I felt alarmed.

To be continued.


ashok said...

Beautiful pictures of trees Keiko. I can see now where you get your sunny personality from.

It is sad to hear of killing the beautiful cherry tree though.
Yes one has to be cautious and make a double check before agreeing to part with one's money in this material age.

keiko amano said...

Thank you, Ashok. I was talking with a couple this morning. They were cutting back their large trees also. They said they had to do it every year, and the husband could no longer do it because last year he fell down either from a tree or a ladder. A young gardener was on top of their roof cutting back a huge tree. Almost no leaves were left on the tree. It costs too much to keep trees in private homes. It's luxury.

You're very lucky to have your green beautiful garden.

ashok said...

Keiko, luckily here I can get my trees pruned for near free. That sort of labor is still available in India. There are people who do it here for the wood too.

Rebb said...

Keiko, It’s fascinating to watch your story unfold. I think I recognize the cat and the old house. I’m trying to imagine your father lifting the teacher out of the house. It sounds like interesting relationships all around.

The picture is very beautiful.

keiko amano said...


I'm sorry that I didn't respond to your misunderstanding about the apartment. It was too much to explain, and the situation is quite different from the U.S. And I'm exposing dirty laundry, because otherwise my story doesn not make sense, and also, readers will not get a feel of true Japan and its history. Japan is not what it looks on television, just like the U.S.

jiturajgor said...

This is a wonderful sharing of your past Keiko.I would like to read more.

keiko amano said...


I missed one of your comment about pruning trees for free. I think drumstick trees are okay, but pine trees, cherry, and other Japanese trees are sensitive. We have to learn to selective prune and right place and right angle and so on. I think my weeping cherry tree is near death because the first man who cut back wasn't a professional. He probably didn't know how to treat the cuts afterward. I'm not blaming him though because of the price, I guess. So, I want to recommend a professional tree cut person for mature cherry trees if you want to keep it.

keiko amano said...

About pruning Japanese pine trees,
my neighbor said the half of the charge caring for her garden comes from pruning her pine tree. So, if a professional asked for 200,000 yen, then 100,000 goes to the labor for pruning just one pine tree because one person prune an average pine tree for one full day.

keiko amano said...

Gardeners in the U.S., and professional Japanese gardeners for Japanese gardens are quite different because yards, aethetic, and plants and trees are different.

keiko amano said...


Thank you. I think this trees and bushes will segued into houses and apartments.