i'd like to deliver somewhat longer small thoughts than ones in '(not) everyday diary', or spontaneously introduce someone or some place..


my personal giving birth notes *

so many women give birth in this world. still, i would like to note some personal thoughts through my first experience of giving birth. now eleven days have passed since the labor day, i am lying here on this bed with my little one (just fell asleep) and my computer.

when i look back, my pregnancy and labor went so quickly. although i was planning to totally relax and to spend time learning SANSHIN during the last days of pregnancy, contractions had arrived three days before my due day. my mother said 'first child always comes late', and booked her ticket for the day after my due day to fly over to the netherlands to help me in a lying-in period. but my little one was a bit naughty not to wait for my mother while i was asking her everyday to come out some days after the due day.

as i look back, my experience of pregnancy and giving a birth at the age of thirty-five, has been quite an abstract happening. there were simply so much things i did not know. so i went to maternity yoga, read books and searched for 'must have' baby goods hours and hours on internet without being able to decide which one to get.... but after all the whole experience still remains pretty abstract.

and suddenly, i have a child next to me.

since the spoken language at the maternity clinic i was going to was dutch, and also the fact that i lacked knowledge on pregnancy and labor, i must have dropped some information midwife was giving me during the consultation. as i started to attend maternity yoga course at my late pregnancy period, i finally began to understand that 'labor' is not only about lying on the hospital bed on your back and push, but also it can be approached with various ways. 'squat and push?', 'pushing on a birth chair?', 'sit under the shower on a fitness ball?'.... i just could not get these phrases. not at all.

with new information on giving a birth, i started to create my own image of my own labor. it was not a complete image, but fragmented wishes of what i wanted and what i did not want, such as 'i want natural birth', 'i have hernia so there is no way i lie on my back on the hospital bed for pushing', 'home delivery might not be so bad', 'i would not want to use an ecbolic for pushing and getting placenta out', 'i don't want any cut with the scissors', 'i don't want to be carried to the hospital during my labor since i live on the fourth floor without an elevator' and so on.

four days before the due day, the 'sign' for the beginning of giving birth has came. somehow i was pretty relaxed and thought that the real labor day will come in three or four days. but instead, contractions arrived immediately after and i could not really tell what was pre-contractions and real one. at three o'clock in the morning, i called the midwife and she arrived at five o'clock and home delivery process has began. for me it was a surprise that real contractions came in such a hurry and the whole labor felt as if reason could not catch up with physical emotion. my daily tendency of observing things from the distance was still very active during the labor. next to my body receiving pain, i was thinking in my head 'what about these contractions? they come back too often and last too long, why don't they give me a break???'. or while sitting on the fitness ball under the shower, i was constantly thinking 'oh no, the water bill will be so high this month!!!!'....

maybe it was because i watched the film till late despite of the fact that i should have gone to sleep early, my contraction has weakened at the last stage of dilation. i felt pretty exhausted and felt very lazy. but when i heard this word from the midwife L, i simply was shocked. 'takako, we have to go to the hospital'.

this was the scenario that i totally did not want!!!! it was not a super emergency so there was no need for fire truck with a ladder and a stretcher. but i had to walk those long steps down to get on the taxi. this simply was an unbelievable action to take. every three or four steps, a contraction come and i had stop and receive the pain. it felt as if i was in another dimensional world. i remember the bright light when i finally reached the ground floor and got outside and there was this rude taxi driver who completely did not feel good about taking me to the hospital. this taxi driver was playing the radio with two hundred percent volume but i could not care, i was simply busy trying to receive contractions which still was visiting me on and on. suddenly i remembered one of yoga teachers saying 'you better sit on hands and knees and head down if you have to get on the taxi during the labor' and so i did. in this way you would not let contraction run away from you.... i did not want to see the outside world anyhow and did not want to be seen in my eyes so this position was pretty handy one. it must have looked quite crazy though.

a week before my labor day, big articles about labor situation in the netherlands came about on different newspapers. a very quick summary of the articles is the following; since home delivery is popular in the netherlands, and the poor coordinations between midwives and hospital crews causes the high mortality rate of new born babies on emergency cases. such articles came right on time for me, some of my friends told me to reconsider hospital labor instead of home delivery. at that time my feeling were going more and more for home delivery and felt that it was going to be okay if i feel good about it. i did not expect at all that i myself would be one of these people who gets transfered to the hospital during the labor. actually, it was an valuable experience that i could experience the real scene myself, since i was pretty intrigued by the issue they brought on discussion. well, my case was not serious emergency though. despite of my fear that i would be handed totally over to the hospital crew for the further process, midwife stayed and assisted together with the hospital crew until the very end of the labor, which made me feel extra secure.

as i arrived in the O hospital, i was brought to one of the delivery rooms with a wheelchair. there came the nurse N who i met several times before during my pregnancy at the echo test centre. it was as if all was well set-up but somehow felt a comfort in this situation. together with the midwife L, they started discussing on how to proceed my labor. then N said with excitement, 'the last centimeter is open, you can actually push!'. i could sense the delight in the tone of midwife L and another assistant. 'now you have a choice between vacuuming her out by with the help of gynecologist and pushing for half an hour with the help of ecbolic', N added.

we went for pushing. at this last stage of pushing, my head was observing again. 'what happened, here i am lying on the hospital bed on my back!!! and now i am getting ecbolic inside my body and moreover instillation!!!!'. yet i tried to resist to this automatism by saying 'i would really like to use the birth chair for pushing'. this request was accepted for some pushes but in the very end, i was sent back to the bed on my back and got fixed on the bed with the machine to keep track of baby's heart beat. pushing went on and on and on the very last push, i felt the scissors' cut down there. 'have.. have you just cut my....???' i think i had immediately asked. it seemed that every step was working against what i wished. as the final touch, i had a bit of ecbolic to push the placenta out. what a comedy the whole thing turned out to be. and yes our little one was out, crying loudly.

although it is said that delivery rooms from the O hospital is always crowded and difficult to find a place, it was pretty empty and there were no signs of other patients there. if one's delivery goes smooth without any complication, you are out of the hospital within two hours after the delivery in the netherlands. in my case, i had to stay for some extra hours and we were allowed to leave the hospital after the midnight. the gigantic main hall of the O hospital was dark and empty while we went through to find the emergency exit with wheelchair. now i did not have contractions anymore, but three and a half kilo baby on the car baby safety seat on my knees as souvenir. the labor comedy was wrapped up by a nice turkish taxi driver who brought us home. this was a savior. he said that his three children were all born in the O hospital and his gentle character and the warm conversation was calming us down enormously.

by the way, i intended not to depict my partner in this writing since notes above are from my very personal labor experience. i also deducted some grotesque details of the happening. anyhow i would like to thank my partner here, to be there through the labor without sleep. and at last i would like to add my conclusion that giving birth should remain somehow abstract and a woman should just be drifting through whatever comes as she feels like. the midwife L said with smile after giving birth, 'next time we do it at home'. would there ever be another time?

now the sleepless nights begin.


writing about sardine reminded me of Kubotsu experience back in japan. during my stay in the fishermen's village, everyday went somewhat too intense and there was no internet access, so my 'not/everyday thoughts' remained empty for long months. i thought it may be now the time to write a little about the sea side life of Kubotsu which i adore.

my friend fisherman came home with 200kg of Mejika (young tuna). i was called up that early evening to help them cleaning those fish at the harbor. this was november 2007. so much fresh red blood of mejika spilled all over the table. while i went on cleaning mejika with sharpest knife, my mind was busy thinking of 'how come all mejika blood is so red, how can this blood ever not colour the sea red?'. i was so busy following and copying how fishermen moved their knives to clean mejika. on that night my hands smelled ever so strong with fish bloody smell. this was such a big ritualistic work, receiving lives from the wild sea. by the way, with mejika they produce their famous 'so-da bushi', dried young bonito. bouillon for all kinds of japanese cuisine.


in the old times, Kubotsu was a famous whale hunting location in Shikoku area. of course nowadays it is prohibited to catch whales there. they have now large fixed nets in the offing, which various seasonal fish are caught in. this is an environmental friendly way of fishing, it is said. fishermen wait for fish to be caught instead of catching them. as whale families swim along this area from november until february, early march, sometimes a whale gets caught in the fixed net by chasing his/her food.

in this case, you are allowed to catch the whale because he/she, being so large and powerful, can break the whole system of the net. this happened during my stay in Kubotsu in early march 2008. six meters long young whale (they called it small) looked rather impressively big to me. by observing a whale catching day in the village, i witnessed fishemen's faces and their movements transform from calm fixed net fishermen's to wild hunters' one. i could feel the whole village was filled up with excitement of the whale catch, and later whale meats were divided and given to all the people...... i am myself against the excessive whale hunting which has been done in the past. but i also wish to note and remember the history and culture of the old days when people lived with whale hunting in this area, although i am from the generation who did not experienced it in reality.


that evening, a friend of mine and i received baleen of the whale, which we wanted to have, out of curiosity. it was big and we let it be dried outside overnight. in the next morning we found the very baleen totally torn into pieces by a cat. we just could not stop grinning by thinking of a great party feast the cat could have had during the night under the moonlight!!!!


norway (alvik) * berry season in norway. i stayed in Alvik for about two weeks, working and also enjoying the area. it is wonderful just to be able to hike whenever you want, there are so many walking routes just behind where i stayed.


the bold part of mountain skin, and rich greens. this contrast and rich variety of flora... is very attractive about mountains in this area. mountain surface is gentle carpet woven with tree roots, moss and blue berries.


british berry picker ladies and a hedgehog.


my favorite corner of the whole building where we stayed. somehow i felt some magical power from this door and the white curtain... a door to other side....?


this roof structure caught my eyes at the very beginning. trees and plants are growing on top of a building. this is very very close to one of my dream or ideal landscapes.


the beginning or the end of a road.


you can almost hear those post boxes chatting....



afroperm BEFORE and AFTER * since i wanted to get afro hair for a looong time, i thought it would the perfect chance to do to while i am in japan. i mean, i don't have to work in a suit here.

when i was taking a walk in kokura, i accidentally found this hair dresser where they would do afro perm.

when i was thinking when to do...? i found out that kokura is actually a place 'punch perm (kinda yakuza style perm)' was born in. that i found very special and thought of maybe trying punch perm instead of afro. but decided to stick to the afro.

my straight hair was growing quite long and i was thinking it would be very good for a big afro hair. quite a contrary, one needs only 20-30cm of hair to make a big afro. so they cut my hair very short first considering the round shape when all the hair stands up. it looked like a junior high school girl hair cut.


next step is to put all the wires in to the hair. you divide hair into small bundles and wire them up. this took about two hours by two hair dresser working on it.


it is a beautiful structure when all the wiring is finished. then it is ready for putting 1st and 2nd perm liquid into the hair. this is the moment you realize how bad a damage you are giving to your hair by getting such a strong perm. you have to cover your ear to protect, but i felt my skin really burning all over. 'i will never get any kind of perm.....' i was screaming in my head. yes, once is enough, this afro perm.


so it is time to free those new born afro perm. when you took wires out, it reminded me of the budda statue head. now you carefully calm those perms and get them lose.


so this is the result. it took about good four hours.it is an enormous amount of work to make this. how much? it was about 20000yen.

so to those who wonders,

Q: can you wash your hair?

no problem, it is just as easy. but it is a bit complicated to calm those tiny perms out.

Q: what about when you sleep?

it gets flat on the back. but amazingly after two or three shaking touch, they get round again. no worries. leaves and snow fall on to your hair, which is a nice feeling.

at last but not least, the only way to get healthy hair back is to shave the hair off. i did this more than 10 years ago... but doing it again? he, when?


so about adoption. in japan, they call it specially 'international adoption' if ones adopt a child with foreign nationality. this tells how island people we are... it is not yet common at all to adopt such a child in japan. traditionally we think of 'adoption' as a mean to succeed family, when there is no kid to take it over. anyhow in the netherlands it is much more common to adopt a child from abroad. every year it changes, but numbers of children who are adopted to dutch families are more than 1000. in 2004, the number of children who came from china was 800, in 2005, 666. in 2006 the number dropped probably due to the scandal in china that some children were sold to some institution who arranges adoptions to abroad.

so some twenty or thirty children of those i was witnessing today, their first entrance to the netherlands. so it makes sense that i see this situation twice or three times per year. more and more come. welcoming a new family member from far foreign country china must be a big family drama, that i can imagine. but why are they so extremely enthusiastic? this has never really made sense to me yet. but it seems that all those individual family go through much more than my simple wonder of 'just adopting a child'.

the normal waiting time to adopt a chinese child ranges from 250 days to 450 days. even once the parents go to china to pick her/him up, they have to go through loads of diplomatic procedure, turning in documents, getting judged, being accepted.... so it takes ages so they spend so much energy and time for this! that is why those parents and their families are extremely relieved and happy, full of joy to welcome the success of the big project. now i can imagine why i see some tears here and there.

those kids are brought to the netherlands, welcomed also by other older children who were adopted couple of years earlier. they were welcoming the next generation while running around with toy chinese flags all over.

i have some friends who are dutch, are adopted. it is very common in this country and very normally accepted. i find dutch people are very realistic and have lots of senses for philanthropy. in that sense it really is natural that many families adopt children. there is no discriminative thought or view what so ever in this society on this matter, at least i think so. it makes sense.

but the way i feel when i see the situation is still a bit awkward. maybe a mix of over excitement of human drama and over-obvious 'good'. but maybe i am too cynical. please don't get me wrong, i have a lot of admiration also.

i don't have a kid, or would i ever? that i don't know... but would i ever have a thought of adopting a kid from foreign country? well as long as i am busy with art, my economical situation would not allow it i guess.


hight light of my week stay in austria was helping K's mother moving. since K's father passed away, she decided to move to zaltzburg. to make a long story short, we helped moving two full trucks of stuff to their second house.