In watching 「耳のすませば」(“Whispers of the Heart”) I found myself transported back to my times in Japan: times lived in a dream. These waking dreams were as much similar to where you might discover the buildings’ facades stained the same color as the ones in your mother home, yet where these very same buildings cast a shade of a different hue under the same Sun you have known all your life. You more smell, rather than see directly, a difference. Everything already has a shape you can identify, yet they themselves fit together into patterns that only come to you between the moments you are trying to puzzle them out.
I can still smell the wood planks, aged by decades of hot, humid summers mingled with the scent of incense and tatami mats. It is a smell that comes to me as a single, long intake of air only to be let out slowly after many, many moments later. While sitting on the floor reading or watching television with my adopted Japanese parents, I could often hear the sound of city traffic without. It was a modern river of noises identifiable as motorbikes and automobiles, yet it remained alien to the ear; something other than a cacophony that instead played as backdrop melody to my daily orchestrations. Even the smell of bus exhaust, to this day, remains a decidedly Japanese smell to me; one that signals the start of each morning on my bus ride to school rather than some pollution of my senses.
I miss profoundly the walks through the streets of Kanazawa, watching daily life creep and flow from the building cornices and from under plastic awnings. It is true I miss Japan. It is not Japan itself I miss, but instead more that some little thing, as it were, I discovered there, a little something that I found in the cast of characters from “Whispers of the Heart”: a love of life lived simply.