by Wendie Lovell
a glass of sake with a green tea cookie
“Con’nichiwa.” The Japanese lady at the entrance to Kanazawa Castle welcomes me with a smile and shows me where to leave my shoes. I thank her with a bow and a ‘manatee’ or see you later.
I wonder around the impressive castle looking out at Kanazawa city and hear the nightingale sing in beautiful Kenrokuen Gardens below. Sunlight streams through the small slit openings of the windows. A sense of freedom lifts my spirit, not for the first time on this trip to Japan.
Never again will I allow myself to be downtrodden, the life sucked from me. I breathe in the fresh air as I watch the birds and butterflies in the garden, free to roam. My spirit slowly returning after years of captivity.
I make my way back to the entrance. The same lady is there. I sit down beside her desk to put my shoes back on and notice that she’s folding a piece of paper. My thoughts return to the piece of paper I left neatly folded on the kitchen table before I came to Japan.
The lady finishes folding her paper and holds out a tiny paper bird in the palm of her hand.
“Hold it like this and pull.” She shows me how to make the wings go up and down.
“For me?” I ask with delight.
“Yes, now fly!” She tells me.
“Arigato!” I thank her, smile and bow again.
Yes, I will fly.