When I recently walked along the shopping street Mariahilferstrasse, I noticed something. I thought I saw light shining through the facade of a building. When I moved closer to take a look, it became obvious that behind the facade was a hollow space and brightness from the other side was visible. Looking up one can even see the blue sky through the windows! This building has only the facade and a shop on the ground floor, otherwise it is completely hollow! Will this building be reconstructed without disturbing the shop activity? Or is it because of “Denkmalschutz”? “Denkmalschutz” means that important cultural heritage monuments, buildings, etc. must not be demolished and are protected by law against this. Maybe this facade is protected by “Denkmalschutz” and therefore only the facade and shop are left and the rest of it was demolished to be rebuilt?
When I was a child, my family often visited my father’s birthhouse, located in Aki city, a small town about 80km East of Kochi city. Since my father came from a rather large family, there were often Buddhist memorial services for ancestors or weddings. Therefore many relatives often gathered in that house. A great pleasure was that many relatives’ children about my age also came. Back then we children all lived in Kochi city, which is the principal city of that prefecture and also for us it was quite attractive to enjoy the small town atmosphere. Especially the Pacific Ocean was so appealing, it could be reached from the house in about 10 Minutes and also from the first floor the blue horizon was visible. Kochi city is also located near the ocean but not as close and people without cars feel it to be quite far away. For small children, the coastline was often a destination for school trips by bus. That is why the time in Aki with the ocean in about a 10 Minute walking distance was like a dream.
One day all of us got some pocket money and were told to go for a walk by ourselves and since it was Summer we could get ice cream as well. We were very happy and went towards the ocean. Close to the coast we found a very small shop which had a freezer in front of it. This house was simple, made from wood and very small. We decided to buy ice cream there and each one got one cup of Vanilla ice cream. Walking on, we wanted to eat that ice cream but one of us shouted “Stop! There is mold on it”. Therefore we all looked at our cups of ice cream and all of us found black dots in the white cream. The child who originally alerted us to that fact said “All cups have those black dots. It is mold. We must not eat it!”. And so we discarded our cups in a trash bin on the street. Back then I did not think it was a pity but rather I was shocked and happy that one of us had noticed it.
Much later one day I again found “mold” as black dots on Vanilla ice cream. I had eaten Vanilla ice cream so many times but that day my previous memory was awakened again. I got scared and told my mother about moldy Vanilla ice cream with black dots. She then told me the unexpected words “Yuka, those black dots are real Vanilla”. I was really shocked and could not understand what that was supposed to mean. Until I had finally seen someone on TV extracting the marrow from a Vanilla pod, it took again a long time. Not knowing truly is a pity. That small shop in Aki in fact sold real Vanilla ice cream! Now I find it a pity and I regret throwing my Ice cream cup away that day…
In Buddhism, now are the days of remembering our ancestors and the deceased. This time is called “Obon”. I, too, from Vienna give lots of thought towards my ancestors with my hands folded together saying “Namu Amida Butsu”.
I think of my ancestors as far back as I can remember, like my grandfather and grandmothers and also those ancestors I never got to meet in person. Especially strong is my memory of my mother, she always was such a positive influence on me and she was my idol and aspiration. How much I love her! I think as a child that was very fortunate. There are also those people without contact to their mothers or having a bad relationship with them. Sadly my mother passed away in 2011 but my memories of her are still so clear and present.
It is so interesting, recently I am surprised how similar my talkníng voice is to my mother’s. Not always but sometimes I really think that way. Also when I am at home in Japan picking up the phone, sometimes the callers were surprised saying “Is that really you, Yuka? Your voice is so similar to your mother’s and I thought she might be alive again”. I also noticed that my cough is similar to hers. Genetics is interesting.