This year I welcomed the New Year in Kyoto with my in-laws. I want to say thank you to all of them for their unceasing warmth and kindness.
In particular, I would like to say thank you to my mother-in-law for always working so hard to make the New Year holiday special--your food is incredible, as always.
I would also like to express my deep gratitude to the people of Otaki Village for their amazing kindness and support. Moving to Otaki and being allowed to learn about the people and their environment has been wonderful beyond what I ever expected.
I've grown deeply attached to Otaki's landscape and people and feel anxious about having to leave in 3 short months.
Also, I'd like extend my condolences to the family of H-san, the head of Otaki's village council, who passed away unexpectedly on the night of the 29th. I only met H-san a couple of times, and only talked with him at any length once. However, in that single conversation I gained a strong sense of his love for Otaki and his commitment to seeing it thrive into the future. H-san was warm and spoke with a strong, yet calm, voice. His passing is a great loss to Otaki, but I hope his example might prove inspirational to others.
Lastly, I'd like to express my gratitude to the earth itself. To all its myriad living beings and to the complexities that sustain us all. In my small mind I forget to show my gratitude, but in my larger mind I feel it at every moment--gazing at spirals of forest sunlight or witnessing the blaze of winter stars.