Rice Ball

Rice balls for departure.

How many Rice ball have I eaten so far since I was born? There are two, no, three rice balls that I remember out of nowhere.
Maight be each person have a food or drink that reminds us of something.

On a bench at a crowded express bus terminal in a provincial city in Brazil, I opened the lunch box on my lap. It was the one Valeria had given me before I left.
Along with a freshly baked pie, it contained three rice balls, a boiled egg, and an apple. Before I left Japan, I had never imagined that I would one day receive rice ball in Brazil.

Deciding to move to South America, my exploratory journey started in Sao Paulo and moved from Rio de Janeiro to the state of Minas Gerais.And a few months passed. Many encounters and friendships, occasional fights, overflowing generosity, laughter, and tears. Colorful days in a colorful country.

When I left Rio de Janeiro, I decided to “make as few decisions as possible”. In the next town I happened to enter a restaurant, where I had a warm encounter and found myself staying there for a long time.
Valeria was serving macrobiotic food at that restaurant. I bought miso and rice from her store. I also received lunch in exchange for photos of dishes.

Napõ, the owner of the building, was a Zen monk who had been to Japan. He rented me a room above the restaurant. Napõ had many books and movie DVDs. We talked a lot and exchanged ideas. We watched movies from many countries. He taught me to walk very slowly and to meditate. There was an open terrace with a pleasant breeze and a quiet life. I always felt free there. Maybe that’s why I a stray person, stayed there for so long.
One of the person Napõ connected me with was Maru, a Japanese Brazilian. She and her family gave me a lot of time. We went out together here and there. They naturally supported me to I got to know Brazil and blend in with the culture and lifestyle.
I left my luggage behind and set out to find a ceramic village further inland. That place in Napõ became my home in Brazil.

In Napõ’s house there was a black cat named Lily. She often came near to me when I was writing or modeling clay on the terrace. The first cat accepted me as a second cat.
I finally decided to put down roots in the town and went to the immigration office.
But the expiration date of my extended visa was getting closer and closer.

Ultimately I decided to leave Brazil by traveling up the Amazon River.

I sat on a light blue bench at the bus station, eating a rice ball and waiting for my departure. I recalled each and every face of the people I had met in the past days.

“Come to think of it, this has happened to me before…”

I remembered the morning of my departure I recieved rice balls and ate it on the express bus, with my vision blurring.

On the morning of the day I left KADOYA, Odajii a former work colleague of mine, came to me on a moped. It was on the way to work, so she gave me a bag in rice balls and rode off.

We were 24 years apart, but we were the closest of friends. I often went to her house and she treated me to dinner. Once, I had eat rice so much, when she opened the rice cooker, her shouted flew from kitchen “There’s no more rice for tomorrow’s lunch box!”

It’s so salty

Rice ball