30 July, 2008

Rainy Day

This morning it's not actually raining, but it is overcast and the sky is grey and banded with bright patches that give an air of indecision. Whether the sky will clear is now a matter of wait-and-see. It mirrors my mood exactly.

Sitting by the bay window, looking through white lace, at the green and grey, I wonder what I might discover if I were the age of this child with everything new and all the time in the world, singing himself a little song about the rain with the refrain being the sound of the drops falling "pichi, pichi, chapu, chapu, ran, ran, ran"?

This song, Amefuri, Rainy Day, a well-known children's song from Japan, has a beautiful story. In it a child is waiting on a rainy day for his mother who will come to pick him up. He has an umbrella, kasa, but another child getting soaked under a willow tree has none. In empathy, the child gives his umbrella to the other.

In Japan, I had the same experience as the second child. I was in Kochi, a seaside area in the south of Shikoku, with a friend during the spring break, a time when the roads near the beach are literally full of bumper-to-bumper traffic that delays everything. We were not driving, but having come by train, were waiting on a side road for the bus to take us back to our inn. It began to rain heavily and as neither of us had an umbrella, I was holding a quickly soggy newspaper over my head. Despite the paper, the rain was running down my face.

Many cars were passing, and as one does, I was envying the dryness of the people passing in them. Suddenly a nice car stopped, and a well-dressed woman ran around the car and came across the road to present me with a beautiful pink and grey flowered umbrella with a wooden handle. I was flabbergasted and full of thanks. It felt as if I had stepped into a summer field of flowers and I and my friend put up the umbrella and shared it now waiting happily for the bus. I kept that umbrella for years until I finally gave it to one of my students who had none on another rainy day. But the beauty of that umbrella and the kindness with which it was given will always be with me, and may owe some little debt to a lesson taught to children by this song.

This post is dedicated to my new friend, haiku writer, and quilter par excellence, Autumn Moon.


Cha-chan said...

Can you believe the exact same thing happened to me on my way home from work one day while working in a small city in Kyushu? The sky opened up and I was crossing a bridge. A man stopped his car, opened the trunk, pulled out a very nice full-size umbrella, and insisted I take it. I had the same reaction as you!

I am always touched by the generosity of the Japanese.

vegetablej said...

cha-can, hi! Lovely story from you, too. I always found ordinary Japanese to be kind and generous, especially to us "visitors".

I do think this little song may be the inspiration for those acts. I wonder how many other similar stories there are? I'd love to hear them. :)

Martin J Frid said...

What a sweet song and a great story too. It made my day!

Ruahines said...

Kia ora VJ,
That is a wonderful story and refreshing to remember that we humans can treat one another with kindness and dignity.
I have returned from a wild and stormy week in the mountains, and loved every second of it! Even as leaving their presence I always look back over my shoulder a bit wispfully. Have a great day VJ.

russ said...

Such a nice story! I don't think I've ever seen that kind of thoughtfulness from a complete stranger in this country - I guess the story of the good Samaritan didn't really make much of an impact on English society. I feel even more inspired to go to Japan!

eye in the sky said...

bloghopping here and saw all those sauces.. darn, even the spinach one looked absolutely delicious. great blogsite.

vegetablej said...


:) me too. And happy that it did.

vegetablej said...


Glad you had a great time in the mountains, and I think I know just what you mean that one eye is looking back. When not your actual eye, it will be a mental eye, as what you experienced there moves into where and who you are now. I like to think of it as "carrying" the spirit and energy of the places and people you meet that then inspires everything as you go forward.

Great writing to come, I'm sure.


vegetablej said...


Thanks! If you are going to go to Japan, and don't know any Japanese, then I think you should start learning some phrases and basics now. It is _just_ possible to get around in Japan without, but it can be very confusing. If you need any help there are a few great sites to learn Japanese online.

Or maybe you're already fluent. In which case, please help me.


vegetablej said...

Welcome. eye in the sky, and thanks too much.

Love the pictures on your site of gorgeous green places; I'll be keeping an eye on _eye_.


russ said...

I'm definitely not fluent - i wish i was! But i am trying to learn, very passively at the moment - hoping that if I watch enough doramas and anime, it will eventually sink in ne!
One of these days I'll have to sit down with one of my many textbooks, and actually try and remember some useful phrases!!

pohanginapete said...

That's a lovely story, VJ. For me, what capped it off so wonderfully was your giving the umbrella to someone else. It's that marvellous adage about not returning a favour, but passing it on.

It's cold here but that warmed me up :^)

vegetablej said...

Thanks, pohanginapete.

Fight the cold with spicy foods. :)