Hakusanroku Journal 白山麓ジャーナル

December 15, 2023 Ichigo Ichie: Never Losing A Friend


Ichigo Ichie: Never Losing A Friend
 ~ Pauline Baird an English teacher at ICT.

 Some time ago, I bought and read a book in Japan called “Ichigo Ichie.” After reading it, I learned that every encounter with a person is different, even if it’s the same person. As such, it is vital to savor our encounters because they are unique and valuable and can never be relived the same way. Ichigo Ichie calls me to be present, to live the moment and acknowledge it, especially these days when we are easily distracted by technology. I tend to think of “Ichigo Ichie” as not taking life for granted—being in the here and now.

 When I joined the ICT faculty six years ago and chose to live in what Americans call “sticks” and Guyanese call “dead country,” I hoped to meet and learn from the members of the Hakusan community outside the school. I do. I regularly encounter older adults at the store, on the road, or in their gardens. As a foreigner, making friends is not easy, especially when one does not speak proper Japanese. That said, I am aware that my Japanese is not the best. However, communicate by using all the Japanese Language I know with a big smile and open personality whenever I meet the people in the villages at the foothills of the Hakusan mountains.

 しばらく前、日本で 「一期一会」という本を買って読みました。その本を読み終えて、たとえ同じ人であっても、人との出会いはすべて違うのだと知りました。このように、出会いは唯一無二の貴重なものであり、決して同じようには再現できません。「一期一会」は今を生きること、その瞬間を認めることを私に呼びかけています。私は「一期一会」を、人生は当たり前のものではなく、どちらかというと、今ここに存在していることだと考えています。

 6年前に国際高専の教員となり、アメリカ人からは “sticks”、ガイアナ人からは “dead country”と呼ばれる場所「山間の田舎」に住むことを選んだとき、学校以外の白山麓地域の地元の人たちと出会い、その人達から色々学びたいと思っていました。実際今はそうしています。私は店や道、庭などで年配の大人たちによく出会います。外国人として、友達を作るのは簡単なことではありません。とはいえ、自分の日本語がベストでないことは自覚しています。しかし、白山の麓の村々で、人々と出会うたびに、満面の笑みと気さくな人柄で、知っている限りの日本語を使ってコミュニケーションをとっています。

Tea time with Learning Mentors at Kouhii Koubou

 One unforgettable person I met and grew to love is Mr. Inami. Mr. Inami was a quiet small-framed man with a warm, engaging smile and voice! He was the manager and owner of Kouhii Koubou, a small coffee shop located obliquely opposite the post office in the village of Sena.

 I do not remember when we first met. However, I patronized his business when I learned Mr. Inami had a coffee shop. ICT aims to help revitalize the community, so I thought that by purchasing from Kouhi Koubou, I would make a difference. The first thing I did was order birthday cheesecakes and apple cupcakes for students! Mr. Inami and his wife were happy to bake and sell them. Those baked apple cupcakes are “to die for”! Sometimes, I ordered sliced cakes, none of which I ate because I am not a lover of sweets; I bought them as gifts to cheer up others. Occasionally, my friends and I would go to the shop for coffee.  





Mr. Inami is making a Valentine’s Day card

One day, when I decided to have an English Conversation class at ICT, in classroom #4, Mr. Inami was my first student. He came to class punctually with his notebook and pen. He was an eager and stellar student. As time by, Mr. Inami became one of the four regulars—Ms. Ueda, Ms. Masuyama, Ms. Sato, and Ms. Yuko from the community. From time-to-time ICT cafeteria workers, the Resident Advisers, and their children joined. It was so much fun to read Dr. Seuss’s books. For example, we read aloud, “One Fish, Two Fish, … Blue Fish, Red Fish”! I am not sure why, but the class always fell into peals of laughter. We enjoyed learning English.  

English Conversation Class 2018 (Mr. Inami, Ms. Ueda, Ms. Masuyama, Ms. Yuko

 ある日、地域の方を招いて、国際高専で英会話の授業を開催することになり、その最初の生徒は井南さんでした。井南さんはノートとペンを持って時間厳守で教室にきてくれました。彼は熱心で優秀な生徒でした。やがて、井南さんはコミュニティの常連4名、上田さん、増山さん、佐藤さん、ユウコさんのうちの1人となりました。時々、国際高専のカフェテリアの従業員やレジデント・アドバイザー(RA)、その子供たちも加わりました。スース博士の本を読むのはとても楽しかったです。例えば「One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish」を音読しました。なぜだか分かりませんが、クラスはいつも爆笑の渦に包まれていました。私たちは楽しく英語を学びました。



 In our class, Mr. Inami also enjoyed watching “Mr. Bean’s Sandwich,” a comedy routine about a man making a strange sandwich. Afterward, Mr. Inami wrote and made his book (zine) called, “Let’s Eat.” The book is about making a sandwich. And he wrote it in English!

 私たちのクラスでは、井南さんも「ミスター・ビーンのサンドウィッチ」というサンドイッチを作る奇妙な男のコメディを楽しんで観ていました。その後、井南さんは "Let's Eat "というオリジナルの絵本を書いて作りました。これはサンドイッチを作る本です。しかも彼は英語で書きました!




 We also cooked and exchanged cultural information about food. For New Year’s celebration, people from the country where I was born, Guyana, make a dish with rice and black-eyed peas. The dish is called cook-up rice. We made it at ICT, and Mr. Inami and the class enjoyed it. The class called the Black-eyed peas “Panda Mame”!





 We also made phlourie, a Guyanese street food. It is a savory sort of doughnut that is fried and served with a dip. It was wonderful!





 Over the last five years of living at Sena, I have gone on early morning walks as exercise. Many times, at 6 am or so, I would encounter Mr. Inami, and if we were going in the same direction, we would walk together and chat. He took delight in showing me a beautiful cherry blossom tree hidden behind an occupied building, and I was happy he showed by this place that is like a secret place.

Last Fall, Mr. Inami and I walked together and watched the gardens, the crows, and the rivers. I couldn’t know then that I would never meet him again on my early morning walks. This spring, 2023, I missed him; we will never have those chats again. Ichigo Ichie! –I cherished my time with him. He made my stay here welcome. Memories of Mr. Inami keep him alive in my mind. I hope I returned the favor and made as much of an impression on him as he did me. Thank you, Mr. Inami.


Pauline Baird

HOMECampus LifeHakusanroku JournalDecember 15, 2023 Ichigo Ichie: Never Losing A Friend