Select a primary language to get the most out of our Journal pages:
English 日本語 Español Português

We have made a lot of improvements to our Journal section pages. Please send your feedback to editor@DiscoverNikkei.org!

OHAYO Bom dia

Chapter 15: The Joy of Writing

I feel joy from within my heart through writing. Writing about things has given me a feeling of purpose in life, and thanks to that I’ve been able to enjoy my walk through the long journey of life thus far.

During my childhood, I would often scribble all over the bottom of drawers. I secretly wrote on the bottom side to keep it from being seen by anyone. I still remember—a long line of what looked like words and pictures, all over. It must have been such a wonderful story for young little me.

1991, in São Paulo. Father is pictured in the back-left

My father was the one who taught me the alphabet. Before entering elementary school, writing my name and a few other vocabulary words was my daily practice.

Once I became able to write sentences, I began to enjoy writing letters to my friends and my cousins in the countryside. I didn’t care if I received a response or not. I just kept writing. Even now, I send out letters and emails without expecting a response in return.

I began writing poetry in elementary school. My first poem was called “Where Am I Going”, but it wasn’t anything deeply meaningful. As I became a high school student, I explored more serious topics, and some were selected in contests.

I remember publishing my own, hand-made newspaper as well. The name of the paper was “A Small Drawer”. Working feverishly, I put together the news, editorials, advertisements, and even the comics, all on my own. Later on, when I became a teacher, I taught my students about newspaper making by using the same methods that I had once used. Among my students, there were some that went on to make their own newspapers, which turned out so nice that they were able to sell them to their friends and neighbors.

As I moved on to high school, I had become a ghostwriter for the girls in my class who asked me to write letters and poems for them. These were addressed to their boyfriends. As I look back, I’m amazed with embarrassment that I was able to write words “as sweet as honey” to these boys whom I didn’t even know.

My four years in college was a blank period. I had no time to write about anything aside from coursework reports and my thesis for my major.

While studying abroad in Japan, I wrote for the Brazilian Exchange Student Newspaper from time to time.

After returning to Brazil, I submitted several articles for Nikkei newspapers and magazines regarding the culture of Japan.

As a teacher of Portuguese and Brazilian literature for over 30 years, I created texts almost every day to use in my classes. I was also involved in writing screenplays for the school’s cultural festival, as well as with the school newspaper.

In 1991, my long-sought first book was published. It was titled Sonhos Bloqueados. Thankfully, it became very popular. Thanks to this short novel, I was able to visit many places and meet several people.

Later, there would be three of my creations out in the world—each book precious as if they were my own children. With each publication, I began to receive requests to “please write in Japanese, too!” from all over the place.

I had always thought I would like to write in Japanese one day, but I had neither the confidence nor the courage to do so. Everything changed after I took a trip to Japan in 2005.

I was miraculously reunited with a friend that I had met 33 years ago.  In order to carry on a correspondence with my friend, I had no choice but to write in Japanese. As we continued to exchange letters I became more intrigued with the Japanese language. I began to enjoy writing in Japanese, and it eventually brought up the courage to write in Japanese. My adventures of writing in Japanese got its start because I began exchanging letters with an old friend. However, I can say that if I didn’t have access to Japanese conversion software, I imagine my Japanese would only have improved at a turtle’s pace.

1993, in São Paulo

The other day, another friend of mine gave me an interesting book in Japanese as a gift. It was a Japanese dictionary of onomatopoeic/mimetic words, and I’m absolutely hooked on it. With respect to the unique onomatopoeia of Japanese, I wrote the following poem:

First Date

Sunday—will the weather be good?
I hope it doesn’t rain hard  zaa-zaa
Because it’s my first date…
Will it be romantic?
A gentle drizzle  shito-shito
Glittering eyes  kira-kira
Fluttering hearts  doki-doki
The 2 of us, nervous  odo-odo
Under 1 umbrella

Sunday—will it be hot?
With the sun beating down  kan-kan
Stinging sunburns  hiri-hiri
Parched throats  kara-kara
Aah, I would hate that
But wouldn’t it be fun?
Big, open skies  hiro-biro
Cheerful walks uki-uki
The 2 of us, smiling  niko-niko
Our first date

Sunday is here
Excitement  waku-waku, nervousness  sowa-sowa
Anxiously waiting for the phone call  ira-ira
Ring-ring!
On pins and needles  hiya-hiya, picking up the phone
“Hello?
My soccer practice was
Soooo tough  kitsu~i
I’m dead tired  heto-heto. I’m sorry”
Heartbroken  gakkuri, feeling down  shonbori

Sunday afternoon
In front of the TV
My dog Pochi is sleeping soundly  suya-suya
I’m grumbling to myself  butsu-butsu
Out side the window
Lightning flashes  pika, pika
Thunder rolls  goro-goro
It’ s a summer storm
Just like my heart

Starting with those scribbles, the appreciation and joy that I gain from writing will continue to grow in the years to come.

2001, in Brasilia

© 2011 Laura Honda-Hasegawa

identity Laura Honda-hasegawa writing

About this series

My grandfather immigrated to Brazil from Japan about 100 years ago, and I was born in Brazil. That is why I strive to become a ‘bridge’ between Brazil and Japan. I treasure the ‘Japan’ rooted deep in my heart, and I want to keep that part of me protected in my homeland of Brazil. This series was composed with those feelings in mind. (“Bom Dia” is “Good morning” in Portuguese)