Fitting In: An Interview with Kazumi

In a close-knit community, nestled in the mountains of Fuji country, stands the home of Kazumi; three cubical stories of jet-black modern design, which make it utterly unique and utterly out of place sandwiched between its traditional neighbors. Yet somehow, sitting back behind the other houses, its dignified simplicity seems to keep it just Japanese enough to maintain the neighborhood harmony.

Then there’s Kazumi herself. She surrounds herself with foreigners, myself included, throwing dinner parties with imported wine, English conversation and a husband who doesn’t understand any of it. Worldly yet impossibly down-to-earth, ever since she returned from a somewhat reckless, impulsive “do-something-before-I’m-30” stint abroad, she became a wife and mother in quick succession without looking back, doing what most Japanese women do in selfless fashion; taking care of home.

Her biggest fear now is leaving anything behind when everything can change in an instant. While she guiltily admits that, living in these quiet mountains, words like “Tohoku” and “Fukushima” can be sometimes forgotten, the understanding that life can end abruptly, painfully at any time, is now more than ever something that no one in Japan can forget.

It baffles me a little that Kazumi can remain content in this town, in this life, when she has seen what lies beyond. But Kazumi doesn’t think about things that way; she got her taste, and that was enough. You always come home. Here, some things can stand to be different, but like her house, you still have to fit in somehow.

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