Birthday Wishes and Gifts

A birthday card arrived in the mailbox.
It came from my longtime friend J, whom I met while attending Pepperdine University (45 years ago).

She drew a scene where we recently saw a movie on the card.
The scene is as follows:
Eric was buying our tickets, and the person selling them asked my friend J and me if we were over 62.
She and I are the same age, and we looked at each other and asked each other, “Huh? How old are we?”

We could not think of our age at that moment right away, and we laughed so much. Receiving this card made me laugh so much again.

It is so wonderful to age well.
Most of the time, we can’t even remember how old we are because we usually feel young and have much fun without paying attention to how old we are.
I’m fortunate to have a best friend like J.


Come to think of it, a long time ago (probably more than 30 years ago), I was talking with my friend “J” on the sidewalk when an elderly woman walked past us and said, “Age before beauty!” I remembered.

I had never heard the phrase “age before beauty” before, so I asked J, who was an English major, what it meant.
I don’t remember exactly what J said- but it meant something like “Age is more valuable than youth or beauty.”
I didn’t realize its true meaning until recently, but I’m finally at the age where I can tell young people about the value of growing older.

That getting older is not just about numbers.
Of course, the reality is that aging is physically more challenging, and mentally, it can be lonely and scary times.
But that’s why I feel so strongly that it’s essential to make the most of my abilities and live daily with self-love and self-care.
As I age, I am convinced that my experiences have made me a wiser person, and I can say that I like being the way I am.


Well, I didn’t do anything special for my birthday this year.
As usual,
– Morning walk with the dogs
-Hand-sewing the pants length for a new gardening jumpsuit
– Aquatic plant gardening
-Watched a movie and cuddled cats
-Eric took me out for my birthday dinner
-In the end, I went to the sea at night when no one was there and very windy (Lumi’s ears are flying because of wind)

– Talk to Eric about my future plans.
– I took a bath with homemade medicinal herbs and fell asleep well.

The best part was that I felt a special, soft vibe and was grateful for being born.
Spending my birthday slowly like this was perfect for me right now.


Some of you may know that I have had some difficult experiences in my life.
Attempted suicide when I was 14 years old.
Moved to the United States at the age of 19.
Stopped drinking alcohol at the age of 29 and have continued to do so.
Diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 1993 and recovered in 1995.
Survived a near-death car crash in 2001, and was able to walk after four years in a wheelchair.
In 2019, began recovering from stage IV non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma cancer, despite being diagnosed with only weeks to live in 2017.

My birthday wish is to respect “Sanae,” who has chosen this life and is striving to fulfill the life she has been given.
Maintain good health by caring for my body, mind, spirit, and soul.

As my birthday gifts, I received flowers, cards, voice messages, emails, Messengers, and many messages on Facebook.
I even received messages and emails from people I hadn’t heard from in a long time.
It’s a warm feeling to know that someone cares about me.

A friend sent me a birthday fortune telling.
For those born on April 4, 2024:
The wide variety of your experiences will stretch beyond your dreams. Your bright burning curiosity becomes a spotlight for interconnectedness and unity. Love expands your thinking and sparkles up your lifestyle. You’ll free yourself from excess responsibility and the principles of minimalism will deliver you into clarity and fulfillment. Virgo and Scorpio adore you. Lucky numbers are: 7, 10, 4, 41, 5.

I’m glad that this aligns with what I’m doing now, especially since last year, when I’ve been trying to do what I can slowly and without restricting myself as much as possible.

And gifts from Mother Earth:

Snow in North Fork (a photo was sent to me by a friend from the North Fork) and a rainbow when Eric too me out for my birthday dinner.

I feel grateful for everyone and everything who thought of me on my birthday.

My birthday present for me was a day where I give myself time and carefree day without any worries or pressure, which is truly the most luxurious birthday gift.

Sanae ❤️

P.S. A few days after I posted this blog, Eric baked a cake and made my favorite strawberry shortcake for my slightly late birthday!
It looks cute, right?
How did it taste?
I wish you could taste it.

Self-Care for Grieving after My Beloved Dog, Happy’s Departure 

After five days of rain and wind storms last week, the sun was shining brightly, and the blue skies reflected it.
Usually, I would feel refreshed by the sunshine and blue skies, but my heart was still in darkness as the storm continued.

My beloved dog granddaughter, Happy, who was always by my side, suddenly became unwell and passed away to heaven on the last day of the rainstorm. Just writing this makes me feel a tightening pain in my chest.

My heart is aching, and I have empty, hollow feelings.

I am not ready to write about Happy much. 

All I can say now is…Happy was my big-hearted, kind, tolerant, and sweet dog granddaughter.
She was always by my side, like my shadow.
She followed me even if I just went to the next room to get something.
When he couldn’t see me, he wandered around looking for me.
I feel like a ghost now, without a shadow.

I only remember a little of what I did the day she departed seven days ago. 

*Seven days is call “Shonanoka” in a Buddhist service held on the seventh day after death. This is when the deceased crosses the River Styx (4000km – 2485.485 miles wide)  after she passes 3200km/1988.388mile long steep mountain.  Depending on her behavior during life, the stream of the river will change. So, the deceased’s family gather and honor her, sharing good memories and thoughts so that she will receive a gentle stream. I wrote about it on my blog


I started to look at Happy’s most recent photos and Videos. Unfortunately, I did not have many photos of Happy in the last six months. I only took one photo with her (that’s the cover photo).
I was taking more photos of Lumi (Happy’s mom) because she is older and has health issues, so I thought Lumi was going to heaven sooner than Happy.
I wanted to see Happy’s photos of when she was a puppy, but it was too painful so I could not do it.

Happy left, Lumi (Happy’s mom) and me New Year’s day 2024


Even though I had studied animal communication, animal behavior, nutrition, and animal spiritual energy for many years, I did not notice that Happy was not feeling well.

It was a shock. I should have known if she had the health condition.
Now that she’s gone, I feel overwhelmed with guilt.

I also felt so bad for Happy’s mother, Lumi, who could not look at and come close to Happy after Happy died.

Three other Happy’s family all looked sad but came close to her and Snif.

I wanted to set up an altar for Happy with the Buddhist traditional “Goku (Five basics),” offering incense, lanterns, flowers, food, and purified water. 

Happy’s color was orange, so Eric and I went to the local flower shop with Kai (Happy’s nephew), even though it was still raining a little bit, to get orange flowers. 

I set up the altar with a candle, incense, orin (Buddhist bell), water, her favorite blueberry cookies with flowers, etc. I lit the candle and incense, rang the bells, and prayed.

I don’t even remember now what I worshiped. I only remember that I just put my hands together (gasshou).

After that, I put on the music that Happy and I had been listening to, cried a lot, and meditated together for an hour.
I hugged Eric and the dog and cat family over and over again.


On the second day, the Sun came out powerfully, as if so much rain was a lie.

I was moving mechanically, not wanting to do anything.

But when I looked at all of Happy’s family, I took them out for a walk as usual without thinking. The first walking team is Happy’s mom, Lumi and Happy’s nephew, Kai. 

Happy used to walk with them, so my heart was not there with me, and the deep inside of me was numb, but I felt that Happy was walking with us.

When I returned home, there was a voice message from a *CSC (Cancer Support Community) blood cancer member that she wouldn’t be at the Zoom meeting, so if I was going to be there, she wanted me to let the group know.

*The CSC (Cancer Support Community) Blood Cancer group, which I joined about seven years ago when I got stage IV Lymphoma Cancer.

It has been helping me to hear what other people are going through physically and emotionally with their blood cancer and get more information about treatments, hospitals, oncologists, etc. 

I was trying to decide if I was up to be on Zoom/seeing other people.

I wanted to see how my long-time friend, John, was doing after his last chemotherapy. Ironically, John came to see me when I was taking chemotherapy for stage IV lymphoma, and three years later, he got lymphoma. I invited him to join the CSC’s Blood Cancer meeting, and he has been attending.


I knew the Zoom meeting had started, and time was passing. My heart said, I want to attend the Zoom meeting.

I clicked on Zoom connection. Previously, when I was late joining the meeting, I did not get a call to share till the end of the meeting, but the facilitator asked me how I was doing after the person speaking when I joined.

I was not expecting to share so soon; I did not know what to say.

My breath caught, and I checked. I had to think for a moment about what to say.

I said, “One of the members of CSC left a voice message to ask me to convey the message, and I also wanted to see how John is doing…” 

I started crying and said, “I am sorry, I am not myself today….”

I corrected what I said and continued, “Actually, I am myself.” 

I took a deep breath and said, “My dog daughter, Happy, passed away about 24 hours ago.”

My tears came down, and I could not stop crying. I felt my heart was aching.

The pain that feels like my chest is being torn apart.

I took another deep breath.

“I am grieving and feeling guilt for Happy that I may not have done the right things for her needs since I thought her mother, Lumi, was going to die before her, and I was focusing on Lumi more than Happy in the last six months.” 

“I am so sorry, Happy!”

I blew my nose, then said,  

“I am in so much pain, and tremendous sadness of tsunami is coming into my whole being.”

When I lost someone, including an animal family, during a previous grieving period time, I grieved so much. It must have lowered my immune system, and I got cancer twice.

One was after my father passed, I got ovarian cancer. The other one was 6 months after my beloved dog’s daughter, who was my service dog, Kula, passed, I got stage IV lymphoma.


So, I continue sharing on the Zoom CSC meeting.

“In the past, losing someone with whom I had strong connections and unfinished issues or regrets made my strength weak, and my immune system went lower.” 

“I am grieving, and I have a fear of losing my health once again, so I need to look back at what I can improve to cope with grieving and self-care.”


As I looked back, I realized my experience of grieving has different shapes and colors depending on who passed away. 

When my mother passed away, I was sad, and I grieved, of course, but I communicated with her to accept who she was and also let her know who I was to her before she passed away so I had peace later on.

Since living in America, I have sent a family of 16 animals to heaven.
Raising animals is not an easy task, and I was sad when they left.
But with the animal family that I was able to communicate with and connect with, grief was like a big wave in the ocean that I could surf, and I didn’t drown. I missed them and at the same time accepted their departure.


I looked back; how did I do when my father and Kula passed away? 

When my father passed away: 

I could not communicate with my father before he passed away.

I knew his health was not well, so I visited him one month before he passed away in Japan. I went to his favorite restaurant with my sister and we had a good time. 

I called him at the airport before departing to return to America, but he did not answer and never called me back. His secretary said he was on a business trip so that he would contact me later, but he never did.

When I received a phone call three weeks later that he was in critical condition and went to see him in Japan the next day, he was already unconscious and passed away eight hours later. 

I had to return to Japan to help my mother and deal with the situation at my father’s business company seven times in one year. 

The extreme stress did not give me a space for me to grieve.
I got so exhausted.
Then, the following year, my first husband filed for divorce, and one of my dogs, whom I rescued on the street, died. Then, I had to foreclose my condo when I lost money on the divorce.

I was grieving and so much stress, but not knowing I was. I started to lose my health and got ovarian cancer.


When my beloved dog’s daughter, who was my service dog, Kula, passed away, 

Eric (my current husband) and I tried to save our restaurant Seed Kitchen, but the landlord and realtor did not help us at all. We lost the lease, and the realtor sued us. We had to close the restaurant after Kula died.

Eric and I argued so much about the restaurant those days. I was focusing on accommodating the restaurant customers, employees, my students and clients.

I had no time for proper grieving till and for resting much. All I was doing was repairing our damage after closing the restaurant. Six months later, I got stage IV lymphoma.


The CSC facilitator asked me, “How do you not get sick/cancer from this grief?”

It is a good point for me to think and address the issues. Healthy grieving is facing the pain and dealing with it. It is work and no shortcut.

How do I do that?

I checked the blog I wrote about grieving in 2016 when Kula passed.

I was not aware of grief till much later since I was taking care of the restaurant we had at that time, and we lost it, so it was more than just losing Kula.

It took time to see that I was grieving over losing our restaurant, which had been one of our dreams.

Another was rebuilding my relationship with Eric after it got ripped off because of the stress of keeping and closing the restaurant.


We all have weak links in ourselves.

I realized my weakest link, which was when I lost someone, something that it meant to me and I could not accept, which led to grief, drained my immune system, and l lost my health. 

This time, I admit that I am going through grieving as soon as Happy departure.

I am releasing my grief by connecting with “*Pet Loss Support Group” and starting to work on my healing journals.

*Pet Loss Support Group


I face the weakest point and need to change it to my strength.

Cry when I need to.

Work on guilt, regret, blame, fear, anger, and connection to forgive, especially me. 

Softening the pain – talking to people who can support and respect my feelings and tell me the right words.

Writing is one of my tools to heal myself, so I want to write about how I give myself “Self-Care.” 

Continue daily walking with the dog family, art, and gardening, being nature as usual.

Herbal tea and Bach flower remedies for sadness/grieving, moxibustion, reiki, massage, and herbal aroma baths, etc.
I take care of myself with a lot of “self-care.”


I planted Grevillea Superb (it has orange color flowers since orange was Happy’s color) bush tree (Happy loved a bush plant) in the front side garden with Eric.


I haven’t been able to communicate much with Happy since she passed away, but I heard her voice while I was planting Grevillea Superb. 

“Mommy, what a beautiful flowers for me. I love the orange color!”

“I am happy that you decided that no surgery proceed and took me home from the cardiologist so I could go to heaven from the home where I was born.

Happy leaving the cardiologist’s office without surgery


I know you wished we had a little more time after we returned from the cardiologist, and me too. But my heart was not strong enough to live anymore.”

“I thank you so much for all you did; 

I was the happiest dog since you were my everything and are the one I lived for.

I learned to spread joy and love because you gave me joy and love every day. “

“You taught me how to help heal other people.”

“I hope you continue to take care of your health and live a much longer life so I may return to be with you.”

“Right now, I am also shocked that I had to leave. 

I know you are in shock and feeling guilty. 

But Mommy, you looked at my face when I left; I was not in pain, and I was a beautiful girl as you always told me.”

Happy’s face right after she depatured


“You and Daddy took care of me so well.”

“I thank you so much!”

“I will see you again, either there on the earth or in heaven for sure, until we see each other again next time.”  

“By the way, I am using my dog mom, Lumi’s body, to visit you, which you may have already noticed.”

“I heard you said, 「Lumi is getting up without our help and following everywhere I go, just like Happy.” (Lumi has arthritis and has not been able to get up on her own much) 

“Lumi is sleeping soundless without snoring like Happy” (Lumi snored so much all the time while she is sleeping)) and “Lumi is drooling just like Happy when she wants something to eat and waiting.” (Lumi never drooled)

That’s right, Mommy, I am there with you in my dog Mom Lumi’s body.

Now you know how much I want to be there with you!”

” Thank you for cookies, clean water (Happy liked only clean water), candles, incense, and beautiful flower bouquets!

I am so blessed and loved because I am your girl forever!”


I looked up at the sky and hugged her spirit!
And told her,
“Happy- Arigatou!
You did a great job giving me and everyone joy, love, and happiness
I am so happy you came into my life.
Thank you for always being by my side!
I’m looking forward to seeing you again.”

I am so grateful that Happy communicated with me.

When I am ready, I want to write a tribute to Happy’s life: her story with photos. Set up a memorial in Happy’s honor.

Today is Happy’s first 7th day (*Shonanoka), so I would like to hold a memorial service for her in my own way.


Shonanona is a Buddhist service held on the seventh day after death. This is when the deceased crosses the River Styx (4000km – 2485.485 miles wide)  after she passes 3200km/1988.388mile long steep mountain.  Depending on her behavior during life, the stream of the river will change. So, the deceased’s family gather and honor her, sharing good memories and thoughts so that she will receive a gentle stream.

I post it on my blog

My gratitude to Happy with all my heart!


Sanae ❤️

New Year Goals – Ink Making

January is the time for me to write down my goals for the new year.

I have been going to see New Year Sunrise to worship it on New Year’s Day for about 30 years.

I plan my new year goals according to the lunar calendar, so I spend the time until the Lunar New Year in February with an awareness of what I want to do in the New Year.

January is the perfect time to start writing down what’s on my mind, what I am thinking, and what I am feeling. I like writing down my goals and what I can accomplish.

Review what I wrote last year and see what I accomplished and didn’t.

If I had a goal that I couldn’t achieve last year, look at it honestly and think about whether I want to work towards the same goal this year.

Sometimes, my interests and feelings change, and I don’t continue. It’s a good experience to accept things and my changes and not judge them.

One of my goals in 2024 is to “Learn How to Make Ink” with natural materials by taking a workshop at Maiwa School of Textiles with TIM McLAUGHLIN.


Why did I decide to take this workshop as my New Year goal?

Well, something happened when I was five, and my parents changed the kindergartens I was going to. There was a famous Japanese calligraphy “Shodo” master who was the younger brother of the director of the new kindergarten I started attending.

I began learning Japanese calligraphy, “Shodo,” under this master.

At the beginning of the classes, I had learned how to make Sumi ink and doodling with a Japanese Calligraphy brush.

For some reason, I liked mixing Sumi ink stick with water and rubbing it by hand on an ink-stone.
I forget how much time passed when I was rubbing the Sumi ink stick, and my teacher sometimes came to check on me and said, “Are you ready to dip your brush in Sumi ink?”

Maybe I was in a zen state even at a young age, hahaha!
It could be because the scent of Sumi ink and the sound of Sumi ink rubbing the Suzuri (Inkstone) relaxed me.

I discovered that I could make Sumi ink darker than midnight color and Sumi ink color to match dawn, which was closer to gray.

The color of the Sumi ink changed depending on the movement of my hand and the vibration of my feelings. 

Slowly moving my hands and making ink gave “the shy little Sanae” confidence and helped her calm down.

There was a time when my teacher encouraged me to exhibit many of my works in calligraphy exhibitions at art museums, and I won numerous awards.

Japanese Calligraphy “Shodo” – 「Nintai」English meaning Patience I did for a friend request


Then, when I was in elementary school, I noticed that my father used fountain pens, and I was drawn to them so much. I remember buying my first fountain pen when I was 13 years old.

I wanted to find my favorite color of ink for my fountain pen. 

Green ink was the color for me!

After finding green ink, I sent postcards and requested songs every week to the late-night radio program “Ama-chin’s Young Request” in my hometown of Nagoya.

I could request songs over the phone, but since so many people were calling, I couldn’t always get through, so I sent postcards. 

I am sure I was spending more time writing these postcards than studying for school.

I used my pen name, “Green Puff” (this name came from the popular Japanese cotton facial puff name Clean Puff) because I used a green ink fountain pen, and it sounded cute.

Since everyone sent postcards with a ballpoint pen and no one sent them with fountain pens and colored ink, especially green, DJ Ama-chin chose my card every week and played my favorite songs. It was a sweet memory I almost forgot.


September 8th, 2001, I had a near-death experience in a car accident with severe injuries, and the doctors told me I would not be able to walk anymore. You might be able to imagine how much I struggled for a long time. I was bedridden for one year, painful physical therapy, and learned to live a wheelchair life.

One day, right after I learned to use my wheelchair, I went to orientation for disabled people’s public city van. I met a woman whose name was Evie, and she introduced me to taking a pen calligraphy class at Emeritus at Santa Monica College. This story you can read here.

Although it is different from Japanese calligraphy, I thought the attitude of preparation and writing was similar. 

It calms the mind and makes the atmosphere quiet.

While I practice calligraphy, I notice my dogs ​​and cats family all relax.

One of my calligraphy and drawing of Lindisfarne Gospel from my practice notebook.


I continue to practice pen calligraphy, and a few years ago, I was able to write my own haiku in pen calligraphy and submit “Lotus” with a watercolor hanga print as my first artwork for the college art show.

It reminded me of the old days when I was entering my “Shodo” Calligraphy yo the museum.

So, even though I was disable I still could create art.


There is one more thing, which is ever since I mixed ink colors at Kakimori’s Inkstand in Tokyo in 2019 after undergoing six cycles of Chemotherapy to treat Stage IV Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma cancer when I was diagnosed with “Only Weeks to Live” in 2017. (you can read it here)

The Inkstand had ten basic colors to create/mix many colors, and I was fascinated to create three different colors of my own. 


I was also interested in whether there was a way to make ink (not just mixing) using natural dye materials. 

I was excited to learn that Maiwa School of Textile was offering “The Ink Making Workshop.”

I want to make my original “ink” colors someday and hope to be able to create new calligraphy art for college art exhibitions.


So, these are the reasons why I have made “Learn How to Make My Ink” one of my goals for 2024.

It is a seven-week workshop and it has just started.
The first week was Introduction and Module 1, in which I learned what materials and supplies I needed to prepare for making ink.
I am someone who loves glassware; my excitement grew when I saw that the list included glasses such as beakers, flasks, and cylinders.
I liked the fact that I could use rainwater to make ink.
The perfect timing is that it had been raining the last few days here, so I corrected the rainwater.

Raindrops over holiday poinsettia.


This weekend, I got all the materials and supplies to start making Gum Arabic Solution and Shellac Solution.
Doesn’t these glass containers remind you of a chemistry class?


Making Gum Arabic Stock Solution was like making almond milk late and took only a little time.
Shellac Stock Solution was like making caramel syrup first.
The instructor, Tim, said,” It would take one hour to make,” but it took me almost two hours. I think my bath water to melt Shellac was not deep enough, so I will know the next time.
Anyway, I enjoyed a slow pace on Sunday time to complete it.

This workshop has been much more exciting than I expected so far.
I can’t wait to make my original color ink.

I look forward to posting more photos on my Instagram and Facebook and writing about them on my blog again after I learn.



Sanae ❤️

New Year Sunrise Worship in 2024

Ever since I was little, I’m not good at continuing to do the same thing for a long time, and I tend to stop what I’m doing and do something else in the middle.
My mother told me that I get bored quickly.
However, even if I stop midway through, I don’t wholly stop; instead, I restart again later, which is a somewhat troublesome trait that my mother did not understand.

As I get older, I restart and finish more and more things.
Having said that, there aren’t many things I’ve been able to continue doing for a long time, but something I am continuing…
I keep my treasurable items for a long time, like my first T-shirt that I bought when I was 16 years old, my first cobalt blue single flower base that I purchased in Nagasaki 40 years ago,
Raising dogs and cats for over 40 years,
it’s been almost 39 years since I stopped drinking alcohol,
I have been with Eric for 33 years,
31 years since I started macrobiotics,
it’s been 30 years since I started going to see the New Year sunrise, and it will be nine years since I started writing my blogs.
That’s all I can think of right now.


New Year’s Sunrise is something spiritually connected to me.
The weather forecast said it would be cloudy this year, and I wasn’t sure if there would be a New Year sunrise that I could see, so I didn’t have a strong desire to wake up at 5 am.
But I woke up at 5 am without hesitation, did a body scrub, and got ready.

Last year, our dog ​​daughter, Lumi (a golden retriever who will turn 14 this January), couldn’t go to see the first sunrise because she could not walk much due to arthritis, but she was the opposite of me and had so much desire to see the New Year’s Sunrise and had been waiting since New Year’s Eve to go this year.
Looking at Lumi, I received hope and strength that I could go even if I didn’t have a strong desire to go.

We live in a world where many things are happening all over the world at this very moment.
The daily news reports, wars, sad, horrible things, and various crimes without our choice.
In the midst of all this, I was able to accept that it’s okay for me to be someone who can’t feel things more clearly. I focus on what is really important to me, so when my feelings are unclear, I accept them as they are and observe them mindfully.


It was cloudy, but it wasn’t raining.
When we arrived at the mountain, Eric parked his car and started walking in the dark trail with a flashlight. I could clearly see the Santa Monica early morning city lights.

Lumi’s arthritis was getting better, but since she was walking at a slow pace, it took quite some time to reach the top.

This year, in addition to Lumi, Lumi’s daughter Happy, our dog son Kai, and Kai’s son Lani are also with us. Also, Angel, who helps me with my garden, and his friend Emmy, who works at an organic farm, joined us.
When we reached the top, we could already see New Year’s sunrise reflections with blight red-orange on the back of the mountain. We got so excited.

There were large clouds, but the break in the clouds was right where we could see the first sunrise on the mountain, and we were all convinced that we could see New Year’s Sunrise.

Every year, people like us come to see the first sunrise of the year, and others have started to arrive little by little.
Then one of them came close to me and said to me, “You come here every year to see the sunrise, right?”
When I answered, “Yes,”.
She said, “I met you before here. You have a restaurant, right?” I said, “Oh, we met here before? I am sorry I do not remember. We closed the restaurant.”
She said, “That’s too bad.”
Immediately, I said, “I’m not disappointed at all. With the restaurant closed, we have more time and less stress, and I enjoy every day my time.”
The answer came back from her, “I understand. I also run a business, but I’m considering closing it.”
She continued, “I met you here once New Year’s Sunrise morning, and you sent me a photo of the New Year’s Sunrise. It’s my favorite photo, and I still use it as my screen saver. Thank you for sending it!”

When I was in college, I studied communication and photojournalism. I love taking photos and used to carry around Nikon and Canon cameras.
So I often got asked to send photos to various people, and I sent them. I didn’t remember the person, but she remembered that I had a big camera with me, and I was happy to know that someone out there valued the things I had almost forgotten.

New Year’s Sunrise rose elegantly.
Because of the clouds, it did not appear at the time of sunrise, 6:59 am, but the sharp beams appeared at 7:03 am, and she showed up between the clouds for us! 

*New Year Sunrise Worshipped with deep feelings and prayed to the gods of the north, south, east, and west for a bountiful harvest, good health and peace in 2024.

*The custom of worshiping the New Year Sunrise is said to have become popular after the Meiji period (1868–1912).
But it was first called “Shihohai” and began when the Emperor woke up early in the morning on New Year’s Day, purified himself, and prayed to the gods of the east, west, south, and north for a good harvest and good health. It spread from the court nobles to the ordinary people around the Heian period (710~1192).



The beams got stronger!

Then the beam got calm down.

The Down Town Los Angeles got all blight orange.


Going down the mountain, Lumi stopped so Eric carried Lumi at the steep hill. She said, “She was taking her time to going down, but she appreciate Eric papa’s love.”



We came home and ate our New Years’s Ozouni (Japanese soup containing mochi rice cakes. The dish is tradition to eat with the Japanese New Year.)


I did not have a big desire, but New Year’s sunrise rose and showed an incredible New Year’s sunshine again this year.

I am truly grateful.
With New Year’s Sunrise, I worshipped in good health, happiness, love, and healing for everyone globally.

Happy New Year to you all – Akemashite Omedetou!

Thank you/Arigatou!


Reflecting on the Year 2023

It is almost the year 2023 completing.

Did you know Mercury retrograde on December 13 (this is 4th time this year)?
When Mercury retrograde occurs, it is said to have a variety of effects on our lives. for example…
Communication is not going well.
Transportation is delayed.
Poor internet connection.
Careless mistakes will increase.
and more. . . .

I am Aries.

Reading “The last Mercury retrograde of 2023 has eye-opening lessons for the zodiac signs” helped me for .

If you feel the walls are closing in on you, Aries, you may need to look sideways to find openings that lead you elsewhere. Creative, yet patient thinking backed with being quick-footed in times of need holds the key to forward movement for you. Watch out for emotional overwhelmedness and breathe through it all.


Anyway, so many things happened to my quiet life: my dog, Nalu, and I got attacked by a neighbor’s dog while we were walking in an alley and had to go to Urgent Care (it was not serious and the injury healed in about 10 days), the laptop crashed (had to go to the Apple Store in Santa Monica twice, and later had to talk to someone in India in order to speak to Santa Monica Apple store technician),
Eric’s van broke down (he had to take the Van to two locations to fixed), Eric and I had arguments, UPS’s package was delivered to the wrong location, somebody used my American Express, and yesterday I could not access my website’s dashboard to post my blog (I called for an hour to get the website fixed and was told it would take about 72 hours.)

Honestly, I got a little tired and was feeling down.
So I meditated with Eric, watched my favorite movie on Netflix, and slept.

This morning, when I refreshed myself and looked at the website, it was fixed! I am grateful that my website was fixed so now I am posting what I had written here.

By the way, Mercury reintegrated till January 1, 2024.


So… it rained a lot last night (December 29) in Santa Monica, where I live, and I was thinking about the middle of the night when I woke up because of the rain sound about what it would be like this morning, but then the beautiful sun came out.
I love the rain that falls in the middle of the night and the smell of “petrichor” from the morning sun.
“Petrichor” gave me the motivation to write about this past year.

According to Nine Star Ki astrology, the year 2023 was the season when I was in the winter-water position. It is the time of hibernation.
I didn’t hibernate in the past few winters, 2014, 2005, and 1996. I decided to take the courage to hibernate.
During hibernation, I set a schedule as floating water, working less, going out less, and teaching fewer classes.

I stayed at home and cherished the time I had with myself.

Grew vegetables, native plants, and medicinal herbs, watercolor, calligraphy, created naturally dyed fabric art, knitted sweaters, and started a draft of a new book.

Also, I decided to take Jung’s psychology monthly class via Zoom in September to understand my inner self, and every month, I have learned so much.
I have learned to enjoy a slow-paced life much more.

My only big trip was to Japan for my niece’s wedding.
I wanted to write about it on my blog someday, but I have yet to be able to do so.

I was sometimes irritated by the hibernation and loneliness.
I know spring is coming, and I look forward to it.

2023 marks an important milestone: 5 years since undergoing Red Devil chemotherapy for stage IV lymphoma cancer. (Confirm that the first goal is one year, the next is three years, and the final goal is five years, so it does not come back.)
My medical oncologist, Dr. Mead, has not seen any severe complications in me since 2017, and I am on only medication for bone, which is due to chemotherapy that I lost bone density. During my checkup, she was pleased to see me receiving A five-year goal.

I told Dr. Mead that I was writing my stage IV lymphoma cancer recovery story and asked her if she could write the foreword. Once I finished writing the book, she agreed to write it for me.
I was happy to hear about it, so I wish I could write more, but I have only written the beginning of chapter 1 and all the chapter’s temporary titles so far.
It will take a long time for me to finish writing, but I stopped aggrandizing myself that I did not write more.
I know deep inside that I will finish it at my own pace and make peace.

I am grateful for my shortcomings as much as my strengths.
I appreciate the gift of my health, my husband, the animal family I live with, and my friends and family.


May 2024 bring you and our health, happiness, and love.
I look forward to creating a new, slow-paced life.

Japan Spring 2023 Diary Day 6 Kyoto

It was on my mind to continue writing about the trip to Japan last spring, but once I lost the rhythm of focusing on writing, I could not get back to setting my mind to write.


Early this morning, it was raining. 

I was listening to the sound and feeling the moisture of the air. 

It was more humid than usual, and I remember living in Japan. 


Instead of turning around on my bed, I got up and watched how the rain was coming down. 

I felt an emotional atmosphere and followed my feelings.

The sky was milky indigo dark, and the color changed just before dawn to almost dark purple, which I could easily miss. 

The sound stopped for a moment before birds sang.

I love this color before dawn and the moment of silence, and I feel I can love myself even though I am not productively living when I notice them.


Finally, I got the motivation to write (took time to sort out the photos – now October, but I hope you enjoy reading and seeing the photos.

So here I am, “Japan Spring 2023 Diary Day 6 Kyoto.”


Kyoto has been a very popular destination for Japanese people and foreigners for a long time as the cultural capital of Japan. 

My most memorable visit to Kyoto was on a school trip for my 11-year-old elementary school student. I still remember it vividly because I had to write a diary with photos and illustrations as homework.

Ancient and modern cultures and buildings live perfectly together, making Kyoto attractive. 

Kyoto People speak a soft, slow dialect, and their foods taste a little lighter than most Japanese foods, and even colors are pastel. 1600 temples and over 400 Shinto shrines in Kyoto.


It was my seventh time. 

I woke up at dawn feeling excited coming to Kyoto once again.

When I looked out from my room at Hotel Granvia Kyoto, the sight of Japan Rail Kyoto Station and the mountain scenery lifted my spirits as if to symbolize that it would be a good day. (Kyoto is located in a valley, so I couldn’t see the sunrise from my hotel room)

That morning, I had agreed to meet Marie-chan for the first time in 8 years, so I met her at the Hotel Granvia Kyoto lobby. Eight years ago, she came all the way from Hiroshima to meet us and spent one night and two days with us. As I was thinking about the fun times I had while waiting, Marie-chan came over with a smile on her face.

She is a comrade who went to Kushi Institute together to study to become a macrobiotic counselor. She invited Eric and Me to teach at her macrobiotic school in Hiroshima.  


On this day, She chose for us to visit Tenryuji Temple. (Tenryuji (天龍寺, Tenryūji) It is the most important temple in Kyoto’s Arashiyama district. Tenryuji Temple is one of the Kyoto Gozan temples, which are highly prestigious Zen temples in Kyoto. 

The last time we came to Kyoto together, I could not walk much, so we took a taxi all over. I was confident to take a train this time, so we took a train from Kyoto station, where our hotel was. I checked how long and how much to go to Arashiyama from our hotel. By taxi: 15 minutes/cost $30 if there is no traffic, taking a train: 35 minutes/$2.

Taking a train and seeing local people and visitors riding was much more enjoyable and less costly. We also saw Twilight Express Train Mizuki at the station. Eric and I want to take the Twilight Express Train one day so we got so excited. Eric, Marie, and I had fun conversations and laughed a lot.

We arrived at Saga-Arashiyama station, and then we walked to Tenryuji Temple. We needed to figure out which direction to go, but we just followed people and reached the temple. There were many little shops on the way so it was difficult not to be distracted, but we decided to go our destination first.

As soon as we got to the temple, I decided to buy a new Goshuincho (-御朱印帳 is, if you want to translate it, a “book of seals.” Most shrines and temples in Japan have a Goshuin (御朱印), a seal that belongs only to that institution.) at Tenryuji. 

When my mother was still alive, she and I often visited temples and shrines to collect Goshuin. After my mother passed away, I couldn’t find where it went, so it was time for me to start anew.

Tenryuji Temple is said to be Japan’s first designated historical site and particular scenic spot, retaining the garden’s appearance created by Muso Kokushi approximately 700 years ago.

The cherry blossoms have already fallen this time, and the peonies and wisteria are fully blooming. 

I could imagine enjoying beautiful scenery no matter when you visit, with weeping cherry blossoms in spring, fresh greenery in summer, red leaves in autumn, and snow in winter.

After the garden is the famous bamboo forest path, amidst the crowd, I was deeply moved by the power of the bamboo grove.

We walked a lot and got hungry. Marie already made a reservation for a lunch of Shojin Ryori at Shigetsu, a vegetarian restaurant inside Tenryuji Temple.

Shojin Ryori is a cuisine introduced from China during the Kamakura period (1185~1333), along with the teachings of Zen Buddhism.

Shojin Ryori(traditional Buddhist cooking):

It is a cooking method perfected to enjoy the freedom of mind that comes from the harmony of nature and the spirit of eating, which is part of Zen Buddhism’s training. It is a cooking method that is prepared with carefully selected fresh seasonal ingredients. It is a very healthy cooking method that uses vegetables, wild plants, and seaweed as its main ingredients without using any animal ingredients. It was very delicious, and the light, easy-to-eat dishes typical of Kyoto were the best.

It’s made without meat or fish and focuses on seasonal vegetables and mountain plants. Intense flavors such as garlic and onion are also avoided.) for lunch. It was exquisite dishes and delicious.

After the delicious special lunch, we could not miss Tenryuji’s Cloud Dragon before we left. The giant dragon with a cloud painted was so mysterious on the ceiling of the hall of worship. Apparently, it was painted by Japanese painter Matazo Kayama to commemorate the 650th anniversary of Muso Kokushi, the founder of Tenryuji Temple, and the first thing Eric noticed was that it seemed to be staring at him from any 360-degree angle. When he told me about it, I looked at him, and it seemed like he was staring at me everywhere I went. When I read the instructions, it said that the cloud dragon is called 八方睨みの龍 – “the Dragon staring in all directions” because it can stare at you from any direction. Since the temple did not allow us to take a photo, I thought you could get a feel for the atmosphere with the cloud and dragon towel that Marie-chan bought for me.


After leaving Tenryu-ji Temple, we walked along Arashiyama’s Togetsukyo Bridge. We found many souvenir shops, where I also picked up a Goshuin stamp bookcase with an excellent Kyoto-like design.



We sampled a lot, and Eric ate ​​the soft ice cream made from yuba (tofu skin – non-dairy Yuba frozen soft cream), and Marie-chan and I happily hung out while eating steaming freshly roasted chestnuts with black bean coffee.

People in Kyoto wear more traditional Japanese Kimono clothes. I noticed that many rental Kimono shops are now available with choreography that is not old-fashioned but frilly and cute. Many young people are sightseeing wearing Kimonos made of synthetic, polyester, and acrylic fibers instead of expensive pure silk Kimonos.

When we crossed Togetsukyo Bridge, gals were wearing a cute lace, more modern Kimono, so I took a photo of them with Eric. 

The Kimono they wore was more modern, with frills and cute accessories. I thought it was lovely. It’s great to pass on Japan’s ancient culture in this way.

On the way home, I was shopping for souvenirs for my friends and neighbors who take care of our dogs and cats, and Eric found a cute orange polka dot pochette and wanted me to use it. 

I thought it was too cute but accepted his kindness and gift.


After Arashiyama, we returned to the hotel and took a break.

We ate delicious Kyoto cuisine for dinner near the hotel and had a great time.

We all got excited about the Kyoto experience we had planned for the next day.

To be continue Kyoto trip…

Love, Sanae❤️