Nov 06, 2021
[Column] The kindness and information and communication technology

Monthly column in Asahi Newspaper Hokkaido version
November 6th, 2021. Noyuri Mima

     A month and a half have passed since I arrived in the US. The lifestyle of the people here had changed a lot from when I visited about two years ago.

    Everyone wears masks in busy streets and grocery stores. Restaurants can set up tables on sidewalks or parking spaces in some towns and serve their meals there.

    On weekends, families and friends gathered at restaurants to eat, but this pandemic has made it impossible to do so. However, there is a new custom that started here. I sometimes participate in it.

    It’s called “walk and talk.” We meet at a nearby park and walk together for about an hour without masks. In Sapporo, this would be Moerenuma Park, or Nakajima Park, and in Hakodate, Onuma Park, or Goryokaku Park.

    It is good for mental health to meet and talk outdoor with greenery and fresh air. Moreover, it is good for the body, which is not getting enough exercise.

    My mother-in-law, who lived in Kyoto, passed away just one month after I arrived here, and I had known her for 35 years. Unfortunately, before coming to the US, we were under a declared state of emergency, so we could only talk face to face on the net. However, we were able to talk to each other after I came to the US as well, and I planned to visit her when I returned to Japan next March.

    For the past two years, my sister-in-law, who has family in Tokyo, had been coming over frequently to take care of her mother by the side. With our mother’s consent, we installed cameras in the living room a few years ago to check on her through the net.

    We were able to see her face in peace and how she was receiving her final care. Thanks to my sister, the medical care system that supported her, and the ICT (information and communication technology) that my mother was able to live at home until the end of her life as she desired.

    I selected a few photos from my computer, printed them out, and put them on the wall along with her favorite lilies. By chance, a sample of my new book arrived from Japan that day, and I was able to tell her about it. When the landlord’s family found out about my mother’s death, they invited me to the dinner table that night, and we talked about her together.

    At the farewell ceremony, the altar, the chanting of the priest, and the conversations with the attendees were shared on video in real-time. There were many lilies in the room, and the lilies on my side also bloomed, and I shared the scent with them, making me feel as if I were there.

    I would like to share this experience, which is not tangible but essential to us, to someone else.