January 1st 1998

We went to the COARA office on New Year's eve to help prepare the Internet broadcast entitled "The old year and the new year".I spent the very moment of transition from 1997 to 1998 with my COARA friends. After eating "Farewell noodles", all of us went to a nearby shrine named Kasuga to celebrate the new year. I wished for a good year. The scene is broadcast through the on-line digital live camera. I will challenge myself with many new things this year.

January 7th 1998

Today we take "the seven spring herbs gruel" according to a traditional custom of eating it on the seventh day of a new year. In a traditional card game called "Hyakunin-Isshu", or "One Hundred Tanka Poems by One Hundred Celebrated Poets", we can find a poem to pick fresh green grass from the snow-covered field. This might be wisdom from the old days, to give rest to a stomach fatigued by digesting so much rice cake and other food during the New Year holidays. It also supplies vegetables that tend to come to be scarce in the winter season.

The seven herbs of spring are: Japanese parsley, shepherd's purse, cottonwood, chickweed, lamium amplexicaule, turnip, and Japanese radish. Some of them were not so familiar in those days. Although I couldn't collect all of them, I chopped the herbs on the cooking board to prepare the breakfast gruel, singing a song which my mother taught me in my childhood. It goes something like "Before the birds from the Chinese continent arrive, let's chop the seven herbs...."

January 8th 1998

T oday, we had a spring haiku gathering. Seven members got together at the usual community center. Many haikus with the theme of "New Year" were composed and submitted. I always struggle with composition and listen to other's poems with admiration. But today, many haikus of mine were recommended by the leader and other members. I was very delighted.

Some of my haikus are: "I enjoyed New Year's Eve buckwheat noodles along with my personal computer friends", and "A man drinks as much as he wants because he is a Man-of-the-Year" (the haiku was dedicated to my husband who is 60 years old this year.) The leader gave each member his hand made gourd, on which his haiku is painted with lacquer, as a New Year present.

January 15th 1998

Today is Coming-of-Age Day. Mr. Don Plym has come from Arizona, U.S.A., this evening. We went to Oita railroad station to pick him up in the rain. He will stay at my house until the 20th or so. He came through the wicket smiling and carrying lots of luggage with him. Just after we arrived home, we toasted our meeting again over cake and black tea. He is a vegetarian, and one of his favorite foods is cake - so I baked a big one for him.

January 16th 1998

I went to Hita city together with Mr. Don Plym from the US and my husband, to see Mrs. Uratsuka, an active COARA member. Don was very interested in looking around the traditional house of the Uratsukas and at a workshop where Geta (Japanese traditional sandals) are made. Her private Geta museum named after her late husband "Yohichirou" was interesting, and fun as well. We stayed the night at a hotel in the city.

January 17th 1998

T he next morning, we took a walk around the riverside of Mikuma and the old streets of the Mameta district. In the afternoon, Mrs. Uratsuka joined us to go to Yufuin town where a meeting for braille transcribers was held. Mrs. Chika Sekine from Tokyo and 12 other members sat together to have lunch and discuss how to develop Internet software for disabled people. There was also a demonstration of IBM's "Home page reader." After the discussion, we enjoyed bathing in the hotel's hot spring.