Re: Thoughts about my hometown (101) July 28, 2023

Severe heat continues and heat stroke is occurring a lot every day. Incredibly high temperatures above 50 degrees have been recorded in the world, and frequent wildfires and severe damage to agricultural products due to drought are occurring. As it is, there are even fears that humanity is heading for destruction. We need to stop the environmental destruction that is causing it by any means. To do that, even if it is something small, it is necessary to put into practice what each of us can do.

■■Thoughts about “my hometown”:
I enjoyed a concert of a vocal ensemble called ≪Nostalgia≫ where members of the Kansai Opera Company gathered to form the other day. Nostalgia means homesickness, and I am invited to performances twice a year and I enjoy it.
This time’s songs are nostalgic children’s songs appropriate for the current season like “summer has come” and “fireflies come”, opera songs like Granada and so on, and classic theme song “hometown” that brings a sense of nostalgic to me every time.
The lyrics starting with “I chased after rabbits on that mountain. I fished for minnow on that river. I still dream of those days even now. I miss my old country home” reminds me of the rich countryside of my childhood, bonds with family and friends, and aspirations in my youth, and really hits me. This song was published as a song of the Ministry of Education for sixth grade in 1914. It is said that the publication of lyrics by Tatsuyuki Takano and music by Teiichi Okano was done in the 1960s. Mr. Takano is from Nakano, Nagano prefecture, and Mr. Okano is from Tottori, Tottori prefecture, and there is a song monument in their hometown. The background of this song is as follows. Before entering the war, young people left their hometowns and gathered in the cities or got jobs in a group, and worked to strengthen national power, and the ideal was to work hard and succeed, in other words, “returning to his hometown in glory”. It is said that etymology of this word is “returning his hometown wearing luxurious clothes” at the beginning of sixth century in China.
By the way, the word “hometown” may be something special to most people. Each has its own “hometown”, and I wondered what “hometown” was for me.
I was born in October 1942, in the middle of the Pacific War. My birth place was a Japanese living district in Shanghai, China, because my father was a representative of Japanese trading firm. I was the youngest child and had two old sisters. My family went back to Japan before the end of the war, because my mother died of illness in Shanghai when I was less than one year old. According to my eldest sister, we were on a big ship, but I don’t remember anything during this time. My biological mother was in her 20s, but unfortunately, I have no way to know her, because her pictures and so on burned down due to air raids of Ashiya, Hyogo prefecture where I lived for a while after that just before the end of the war. After that, my father married again, and moved to Miki, Hyogo prefecture where there was my stepmother’s parents’ house before and after the end of the war. I have a memory from around here. The house at the time was typical merchant style, house with narrow frontage, and there was a well and a pomegranate tree in the terrace that was deep inside, and three generations were living together. Miki castle in the heart of town fell because Mr. Hideyoshi Toyotomi attacked Banshu, and Mr. Nagaharu Bessho who performed hara-kiri in exchange for the lives of castle soldiers and citizens was the lord of the castle. He was still in his 20s, but his death poem “Now I don’t hold a grudge anymore, if I think of it as my body in place of people’s lives” symbolizes the way of life of the leader considered as a wise ruler. It is a big difference from the attitude of the top management these days where “walking away from responsibility” is striking. And I played a lot at the ruins of the castle and in a big river called Minou river flowing by the side of the town. And at the regular festival of Ohmiya Hachimangu held in autumn, 8 portable shrines called Futon Yatai come out, and entering after climbing 85 steep stone steps is spectacular. It seems that it will be held in full scale for the first time in four years.

Incidentally, I take this occasion to say that I found out about my biological mother and stepmother before I took the university entrance exam. It seems that people around me tried to hide things from me until I passed my sensitive age. I acknowledge that I have been blessed with “good luck” in my life, but I am grateful from the bottom of my heart for thanks to thoughts of my “birth mother” who left three young children and left for the other world with a heartrending grief, and for thanks to my “nurturing mother” who was serious about education and nurtured strictly without having children of her own.

Therefore, my “spiritual hometown” is Miki, Hyogo prefecture, even though I am not coming and going now. But I did not live in Miki that long, and after that I moved to Amagasaki, Hyogo prefecture and lived there when I was in kindergarten, primary school, junior high school and high school. And I lived in Tokyo when I was in university. After I started my adult age, I lived in Ube, Yamaguchi prefecture for three years, Osaka around the time of the Osaka Expo in 1970, Fujinomiya, Shizuoka prefecture where I had studied at Institute for International Studies and Training for one year, Tokyo, New York from 1978 to 1983, and then returned to Kansai. I got married when I worked in Tokyo, and after that I had moved home five times. Incidentally, my legal domicile is Hiroshima where my father lived until his generation. Looking back now, the thoughts that come to my mind are “fortune awaits you everywhere”. At the same time, I feel like I have a strong sense that “I am a Kansai person”.
The above is a personal matter, but I wrote down the thoughts about “my hometown”.

■■Dow-Jones average in U.S. stock market fell after 13 consecutive days of rally:
FRB being equivalent to the Central Bank of the United States announced 0.25 % increase in interest rates on July 26, and Federal Funds rate is 5.5 % and highest level in 22 years since 2001. Inflationary pressures were judged to be strong, because consumer price index in June is 3.0 % exceeding the target 2 %, even though the rate of increase was lower than at one time, and employment is doing well. Review of the Zero interest rate policy or financial policy will become more realistic, because inflation rate in Japan is also exceeding the target 2 % and the U.S.-Japan interest rate gap will widen further.
The stock market is determined by the battle between bullish and bearish. And it is said that it reflects economic trends six months ahead. In the U.S. stock market, impact of the rate hike seems to have already been priced in, but the market reacted the rate hike yesterday on July 26 in New York, and fell for the first time in 14 days. Many people think that the rate hike will be stopped after one more time, and even though the economy will slow down towards the end of the year, interest rates will start to cut and the economy will recover from next year. In the United States, high-tech stocks such as IT and other semiconductors and generative AI like ChatGPT and so on where Japan lags behind are supporting the bullish market.

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