Saturday, August 28, 2010

happy accident

I was on a mission to find something in particular this week at the manor, and as is usually the case, I didn't find what I embarked on, but something else, instead. These things fall into the "happy accident" category, along with fantastically blurred photos, and genius freak goofs in recipes. You know, one of those fun synchronicitous turn of events. So, what happy accident did I happen to stumble upon? A misplaced box of keepsakes and photos, now mellow with time.

me July 1973
It was the summer before I turned 17. This little Midwestern girl took off on the first big adventure of her life, spending the summer with friends in lovely, exotic Kagoshima, Japan. The city is situated across the bay from Sakurajima, an active volcano, which daily spews ash on the surrounding area. One of the things I remember most profoundly, was waking each morning to a hair-full of volcanic grit. The most violent volcanic explosion was in 1914, in which the lava flows caused the former island of Sakurajima to be connected to the Osumi peninsula.

I didn't own a camera of my own then, or I would have had a delightful photographic diary of my adventures. I did, however, stumble onto a few photos taken by my friends. In addition to a daily swim in the East China Sea, we spent a lot of time crammed into Japanese railway cars. I was even, on one memorable occasion, mistaken for the current heart-throb Olivia Hussey. That guy will never know his little error did wonders for my self-esteem. I'm still talking about it 37 years later.

me in my yakuta


In all seriousness, in addition to giving me a life-long love of all things Japanese, spending some time early on in another culture instilled a sense of acceptance, gained in few other ways, but to live in and among a society that is different from one's own. It also gave me an early appreciation for my own country and it's privileges. It's good to walk a mile in another 's shoes, or zori, as the case may be.

“Prejudices, it is well known, are most difficult to eradicate from the heart whose soil has never been loosened or fertilized by education; they grow there, firm as weeds among stones.” Charlotte Bronte
packed in a train like sushi
(don't you love the knee-socks?)

...and catching a few winks

This is a Sepia Saturday post.

74 comments:

  1. willow! that's the person who writes and shares and reveals and offers insights and opportunities for creative response and creative expression. there she is. does it not stun and amaze you that that young girl is also you. still inside you. still you. japan! what an extraordinary opportunity to help you become who you are. steven

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  2. Thanks for sharing... it is indeed a "happy accident"

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  3. great story willow, loved the pics xx

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  4. Willow, I think your early experience, which btw, was so honestly and vividly portrayed in both words and photos, was indeed a big part of your "real life" education - how fortunate! And it's never to late to learn that lesson - just travel to any third world country, and appreciation, understanding, and hopefully a good dose of compassion is quickly gained.

    I'm probably a good bit older than you, but those photos captured some of my memories too - for example,your hair style. And I'd sure love to have some of the knee socks NOW that I wore then!

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  5. Aha! Childe Willow revealed!

    Nice collection. Gee, you even included the railway shots. You were definitely a cutie and I certainly would have carried your books home for you!

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  6. How lucky you were to have that experience as a teenager! Loved seeing the young Willow.

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  7. Awww...what a fun thing to find! I've never see any of those photos! They are so very cute!

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  8. Love the story...it is our real life adventures in youth that shape and mold us... thank you sharing this part of yourself...and I do remember the knee highs...maybe they will come back in style...bkm

    ps..love the Bronte quote too...

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  9. Love your photos, especially love your Bronte quote and yes, the knee socks too! A happy accident find!

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  10. That was one happy accident, indeed. Lovely story, thank you for sharing~

    By the way, Olivia could have been your twin...true!

    Nancy

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  11. Actually yes, I DO love knee socks! What a great adventure for such a sweet looking young thang!

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  12. Loved the photos. I was 25 in 1973 with a 2 year old son. Ending my first disastrous marriage and living in Arkansas. Got a job at the local newspaper and was around for the first computerized typesetting system in the state. What an adventure you were having. You were very cute.

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  13. What a lovely young lady you were and you did look like Olivia Hussey! What a grand adventure living in Japan must have been and I love the Charlotte Bronte quote.

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  14. Oh, sweet 16! I had to Google Ms. Hussey and found a photo of her in 1974. Yes, you are her twin.

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  15. wonderful pics willow and what a fun trip...glad you stumbled upin those....

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  16. Wow! What a wonderful adventure early on in your life. I like how Steven described it: that young girl still inside you.

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  17. Such a great post -- and that quote is fantastic.

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  18. Very nice - thanks for sharing these with us.

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  19. You are beautiful! My sister and I planned a trip to Japan this year..now we go next year. Your post is wonderful.

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  20. What a wonderful Sepia Saturday post and your photos of younger you are just beautiful.
    I agree that travelling, seeing how other people live and to experience another culture is important an lesson of tolerance and appreciation of our own lot in life.

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  21. Oh Willow, you are so lovely. Just look how you haven't changed a bit! Love your sepia reminiscence, and happy find. It's wonderful when things like this happen. Smile. Smile. Smile.

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  22. What an education to travel to another country so very different from your own when you were a youth. I'm glad your friends had cameras and gave you photographs. Thanks for sharing them, and your words, with us.

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  23. How lucky you were to have spent time in that fascinating country! My husband was stationed there when he was in the Marines for 13 months and I was able to visit him for ten days -- as an enlisted man, he was not allowed to have his wife in the country.

    But even that brief ten days, back in 1964, gave me an enduring appreciation for Japanese arts and crafts and food!

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  24. What a wonderful advenure to experience at that age...and how cute you are!

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  25. I was seated at a dinner table with some Japanese doctors and their wives from Keio University and one of the wives told me I looked like the Mona Lisa. I died.

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  26. What a lucky gal you were. Japan at 16? I was lucky to see my parents at that age, let alone exotic locations.

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  27. In July, 1973, I was one month old. I didn't get to go to Japan for eleven more years. But then I loved it, too. Did you learn the word "natsukashii"? It describes the feeling I get from your pictures.

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  28. What an enviable adventure for a girl not yet 17. What were you and your friends doing there?

    ps...If anyone had ever mistaken me for Olivia Hussey, I'd still be talking about it 37 years later too.

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  29. Willow -- Youth is so open and free, for us in the states. Different cultures are everywhere --- all need understanding and experience with them is a great teacher. What a wonderful experience for you at such an early age. Liked the Charlotte Bronte quote. -- barbara

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  30. There is nothing quite so educational and life altering as travel and experiencing another culture; yes, walking in another's shoes is eye-opening. And I agree, it gives you an appreciation for all our own country provides. Glad you shared your "happy accident" with us.

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  31. Quite an 'eye-opener' to read about your wonderful Japanese adventure, complemented by some lovely, informal snapshots.

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  32. Dear Willow, It is indeed a wise saying 'to walk a mile in another's shoes'. Would that we all took the first step.

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  33. Ahh! Knee socks. What ever happened to those wonderful sexy things? Went the same way of men's sandles and socks I suspect. Were they ever sexy. Hard to believe that!

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  34. What an adventure, Willow! :-)

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  35. fantastic memories. glad you found the photos

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  36. Willow, What a gorgeous young lady you were, and you look like fun to hang out with. The story was great, you are such a good story teller.

    yvonne

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  37. I so love this little train ride into your past and glimpse of the girl who later blossomed into the blogger we all know and love

    gush, gush ... gosh, gosh

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  38. Thank you for the post. It is amazing that photos are "like" memories, not quite memories as they have no "color", or warmth, and little things just outside the print. But they do help us to remember things that happened around them, beyond the frame. Yes, it would be wonderful if everyone, everywhere got to have the experience of living somewhere else. I think there wouldn't be so much fear as we are seeing in our country now. You leave me with so many questions about that time in your life, I hope you will post more about that time again.

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  39. I do love the knee socks! You were into your socks even then, eh Willow?

    What a great experience! The world is a big place; we Americans forget that all the time (since America is so big, I guess).

    Love the pics!

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  40. What a wonderful experience for you! (I had those same knee socks.)

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  41. lucky you to have such a wonderful adventure so young in life. I too love all things Japanese but have never been there in this life anyway.

    Great photos of yourself too.

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  42. Japan?! Appreciation can be all the more difficult when both the culture and language are so very different. Great that you had friends to share the adventure/experience.

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  43. That was a "happy accident" to come upon these treasures. You had a great experience that few can call their own.

    I love the Bronte quote:

    “Prejudices, it is well known, are most difficult to eradicate from the heart whose soil has never been loosened or fertilized by education; they grow there, firm as weeds among stones.”

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  44. When I was 13 (1963), my sister and I spent a month living in Mexico City with the family of friend's of my parents. A very different culture and very restrictive. the lived in a walled compound with broken glass embedded in cement on the top of the wall. We were not allowed out without an escort (male) and certainly not in shorts or pants at all. they had us enrolled in activities but it was not much of a vacation. did not see any of Mexico until my parents came with my brother for two more weeks. then we went out to all sorts of wonder places...glass blowing shop, pyramids, markets, etc.

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  45. It was very safe in rural Japan in those days. My friends and I wandered all over, in trains and on bicycles without any adults along. It was marvelous.

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  46. Reya, yes, I am still SO into socks. After a season of sockless feet, bring on the woolly socks weather!!!

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  47. I love love the story & your new header!!! FANTASTIC!

    I have a automn-contest, please be my guest!

    Agneta

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  48. Steviewren, what was I doing in Japan? I was visiting family friends who lived there and having the time of my life!

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  49. Wow, this is a great post, Willow! Your trip to Kagoshima sounds truly amazing, and how wonderful to be in the presence of such a great sight of natural beauty. The photographs are marvellous too. I would love to go to Japan one day, as I love the culture :)

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  50. Such wonderful memories Willow....and such fun to look back on photographs and remember thoughts and feelings of another time. A happy accident for sure...xv

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  51. What great photos to remember your trip by. I love your friend's pigtails and your puffy sleeves on your top--bring back memories. Sounds like a wonderful adventure! I love stumbling on old photos like that. Fun!

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  52. There is nothing quite like being seventeen!

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  53. Domo arigato, Willow. That's all the Japanese I know. At least, I THINK it's Japanese.

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  54. Willow,
    I lived in Yokosuka Japan in 1968. Still have a soft spot in my heart for the Japenese people.
    Love your pics; such beautiful hands you have with long fingers for piano playing.
    rel

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  55. dear, dear Willow, your post brought back so many memories.. good ones. thanks so much. I am joining your fan base as one who loves knee socks, and Bronte, as well as how cute you were/are.
    thanks so for following my new blog.

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  56. Rel, my dear grandmother always admired my long "piano fingers" as she used to call them. I took seven grueling years of piano lessons, which unfortunately didn't "take". But, I did garner a love and appreciation for classical music.

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  57. Sweet. I've never been to the South Island, but I've spent a ton of time in Japan, myself.

    I'll have to hit that up.

    You know what'll go good with those socks? A Zhivago hat. ;)

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  58. It won't be long till Zhivago season!!! I can't wait!!!

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  59. So you were there. It is an amazing place. I still never got over it. I saw too much and many beautiful things to forget. I like most of what they do there in the way of design and landscaping.

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  60. What a fab find this little box of memories was Willow! 6 months before you headed off to Japan, as a 16 almost 17 year old, I flew the coop (with parents permission!) & with a school friend, caught the train to Alice Springs in central Australia staying for a month. I could have been in a different country. Like you, my experience also taught me that life is not all froth & bubbles. To my great shame, I saw that our indigenous brothers did not enjoy the level of life's 'comforts' that the rest of us did. That trip was the best birthday present my parents ever gave me.
    Millie ^_^

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  61. All praise to the synchronicitous turn of events which brought about a post from one of the original Sepia Saturday tribe. And how wonderful to see these photographs of you when you were young.

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  62. The knee socks were a knockout! Wonder what the Japanese thought of them? :)

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  63. Great pictures. I lived in Japan for two years and also spent a lot of time on trains. :)

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  64. What a wonderful experience and yes, too bad yo did not have that camera...There are no accidents, this was meant to show this week. You appear ready for an adventure in the photo.

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  65. Delightful post. Interesting glimpses of a young woman filled with the spirit of adventure (even the sleeping shot).

    By the way, at your suggestion, I bought a copy of Pygmalion starring Leslie Howard. Haven't had a chance to watch it yet, though I will soon.

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  66. "In all seriousness, in addition to giving me a life-long love of all things Japanese, spending some time early on in another culture instilled a sense of acceptance, gained in few other ways, but to live in and among a society that is different from one's own. It also gave me an early appreciation for my own country and it's privileges. It's good to walk a mile in another 's shoes, or zori, as the case may be."

    i could not agree more!
    It always saddens me when I am confronted with what are nothing but prejudices, on any side of the pond, I always feel I have to defend and explain the "other" side - not that I am very successful, sadly. Some people simply don't want to open their minds.

    Have your read C.'s blog post about the differences between American and French culture? Some of the comments were revealing.

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  67. The pictures of 1973 are so cute. Looking too beautiful. Specially when having some winks.

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  68. Love this post of your Japanese summer. Olivia Hussey! I adored her. Wrote to Paramount every week for a month and they sent me 8x10 glossies from R&J. Sadly, they were under a leaky pipe in the cellar and are no more. But I still have the movie program.
    I do love the knee socks!

    Catherine

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  69. What a life changing experience. I love the pic of you crammed on the bench wearing knee-highs. A picture can tell so many things, details...

    I lived in Uruguay for nearly 2 years in my early twenties. It most certainly changed my life in 1,000+ ways. And I now speak Castellano (Uruguayan style) and can make a mean asado.

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  70. Hi there,
    I check in on your blog from time to time and was so happy to see your post about your wonderful experiences in Japan. My husband is Japanese and I've been living here for about 8 years. The long socks have endured the test of time and are still very popular here, especially with young girls. I've seen photos of my husband (late 60's) wearing them as well. The Olivia Hussey compliment was definitely a big one. She was actually married to and has a son with Japanese singer, Akira Fuse. It's still an incredibly safe country and coming from South Africa that's something I can really appreciate.
    I hope you've have/had the opportunity to come back for a visit!

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  71. how incredible. what a completely different life experience from mine.

    and you know, you are older and all that ~ :)

    you were and are beautiful inside and out.

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  72. I read this the day you posted...and was just flitting through the blogs I love...I have just now returned to tell you that I agree with the person who thought you were Olivia...the loveliest and most convincing Juliet ever!
    Precious photos!

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  73. Dear Willow: What an adventurer! Awesome pics! Japan is so cool a place to visit! Hub went there in the 60's Osaka to play a concert. So HE says! What a dream. You're a lucky goil! Had a few pair of those knee socks; very preppy looking! Is that a lighter?tsh tsh! I only got to go to Quebec City in Gr 8.Wild Girls Party! First time on a plane! Oh I'd love to be a world traveller!Japan, Greece, Hawaii, Europe..yah..I could do that!Jane Jones

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Inject a few raisins of conversation into the tasteless dough of existence.
― O. Henry (and me)