"Waka-Onna"(tentative; 2020- ongoing)

Dear Julia, thank you for inviting me to join your lovely project!

I now live at my husband's parents' house.
My husband Naoto and I were married late in life. My father-in-law had already passed away before I met Naoto, and my mother-in-law had moved into a nursing home before we were married. In the past three and a half years, we have been living in the house they had been absent from, with the furniture and belongings they were used.

This house is now my only home, a shelter from the dangers of the outside world and a place where I can recover from the daily weariness. On the other hand, I have very few memories of my husband's parents, so to me, this house feels like a detached space where I feel like a stranger and I could not truly and deeply relax.

Having been forced to STAY HOME in this house for the past few months, I decided to confront the alienation I've been feeling while in this house.

The thing that bothered me the most in this house (that I had pretended not to see), was a Noh mask called “WAKA ONNA (Young Woman) “ that hung on our bedroom wall.
“Waka Onna”, the most beautiful and elegant of the Noh masks has a neat, curvy, ambiguous look. The mask has a bewitching charm that can be interpreted in any way, depending on the timing and the state of mind, in which the viewers see it.
My mother-in-law carved "WAKA ONNA" as a hobby. In the expression of the mask I felt as if I could see the joy, anger, sorrow, and happiness that she had in her life. I reflect upon the memories I had heard directly from her. She told me about the last trip she and her husband had together. They went to see the cherry blossoms. I imagined the frenzy beauty of the cherry blossoms in full bloom that celebrated the beginning of spring, and the sadness of the way they were falling. Her tragic story about the war that she experienced as a young girl reminded me of my wish that I had during the Iraq war: when I was watching the night-time air raids in Iraq on TV , I thought  if all the bombs were turned into fireworks, there would be no more war, and the world would be at peace, even though I had never experienced war firsthand.

By connecting the memories of my mother-in-law with my own memories through the imagination on the Noh mask of the "young woman", which I earlier felt was a symbol of the detachedness in the house, I could feel deeply attached to this house as my HOME in my own way.

Thank you so much for giving me this precious opportunity!

 

Michiko 

July 24, 2020,  Yokohama, Japan