There are pictures I like very much. These are the pictures that bring me back all the memories only by looking. The air was slightly cold, but the spring sunshine was warm. Young grass had a bitter and wistful scent. Being embraced by only peacefulness and kindness, there was a feeling of innocent as if everything was accepted. The pictures show three of us: 4-year-old me worn an orange sweatshirt with backpack, my 7-year-old brother with bright red cheeks, and my 10-year-old sister worn gym uniform of the school with a headband.
“Let’s walk to the sea”. One day, my father decided this. I have no idea how he came across such an idea. However, once my father decided something, we had to do it. It was always the case. What we did was nothing but walking on rice paddy paths and the bank until we got to the sea. The members were four of us: my father, my older sister, my older brother and I. We were excited as if we went for a field trip. We packed snacks, Onigiri (rice balls) and water bottles in our backpack. It was the place where the head office of ADA was later established. The Ohdohri River runs next to it. Our journey started from there. Holding my little sister, my mother sent us off at the foot of the bridge. She saw us off with smile saying “be careful” while my younger sister was staring at us in my mother’s arms. Suddenly I lost the motivation to go. Although I was dying to say, “I want to stay with mom too,” I resisted myself. My sister took my hand. Being a clown as always, my brother held a branch, swung it around, and walked a little ahead of us. Sometimes he looked back and showed us a pretend play of a hero from TV series, but it was not for girls at all. Even so, he entertained himself and enjoyed walking.
In the beginning, I felt lonely to be away from my mother, but I was getting used to walk with my sister and my brother, and had already started enjoying the walk. It seemed as if it was the world belonged only to us and three of us were able to do anything there. The river was enormously long, rice paddies spread as far as we could see, and mountains were seen in the distance. Although it was such vast space, nobody was looking at us. We ran like crazy. We opened our snacks in the middle of the road. We laughed showing funny faces each other. We tried to take a rest every time we came across a bridge. Three of us were siblings much more innocent and freer than usual. When my mother was not with us, my sister took care of my brother and me. My brother tried to make my sister and me laugh. I was in a position that I could depend on both of them. In that world, however, my father didn’t exist as he was walking ahead of us and kept taking pictures of us. Therefore I don’t have much memory of my father in this reminiscence. What I can remember about him is when we had the lunch. He walked into a rice paddy, spread the newspaper, and said, “Ok, we will eat here!” My sister and I simply sat down there and started eating Onigiri. However, my brother complained, “it is embarrassing to eat in a place like here!” My father said, “nobody is looking at you!” Then my brother started eating Onigiri quietly but restlessly. He looked hilarious and my sister and I were laughing at him. It was the best and the tastiest Onigiri. I remember the lunch we had in the middle of rice paddies was so much fun.
After the lunch, enjoyment was gradually getting weaker. The long walk exhausted me. I didn’t want to walk any more and was about to cry. It was my sister, after all, who took my hand and walked with me. No matter how far we walked, the sea didn’t become visible. The river still continued far ahead. “Are we not there yet?” I must have asked my father so many times. He replied to me over and over, “keep walking, we will be there soon.” Seemed like I was too exhausted and fell asleep during a break on our way. After that, my father carried me piggyback. When I woke up, we had already arrived at the port, and my mother and my younger sister had been waiting for us. We all ran to our mother. The last picture is all of us raising our arms in the air, the sea as a background. I don’t remember this at all, but I was told later that I picked wildflowers on the way. In reply to my father’s question, “what do you do with them?” I answered, “I will give these to mom” and I kept holding them in my hand. What given to my mother were faded wildflowers. My parents still talk about this story with smiles.
One day, it happened. It was the incredibly long journey of the little siblings to the sea. My father took countless pictures of us on the road as photographic subject. My mother waited for us. A thin, long and seemingly infinite river gradually gets wider and then finally becomes the sea. It was for nothing. We just walked to the sea. The world that was created during the journey is still the most precious one, and it continues to be. Create something beautiful, which doesn’t exist anywhere anymore but remains forever, with someone. One day when I become a mother, I would like to take my time to weave such kind of thing with my children. The pictures—my father took—that three of us are laughing on the rice paddy paths encompass and reflect all of his love for us —his children.
text & illustration by Sayuri Amano