A funny title. My mom sent me link to Youtube by e-mail of a Japanese song by this name. At first, I thought it was a rather odd title since my mom would never send me weird toilet jokes, but after I opened up the link and started listening to the song, I saw why she sent it to me. In her e-mail, she told me that it was a song that is really popular in Japan now (I didn't take that statement seriously at the time since she says "this is popular now!" about a lot of things) but now I see why it is popular, especially around the winter season.
It's a song released in March 2010 and pretty much propelled singer songwriter Kana Uemura into the mainstream. My mom pretty much wrote in her e-mail, "Do you understand the meaning of this song?" because it was in Japanese and was translated into Chinese. She continued, "I would love to see you translate it into English. I want the English speaking children to know this song." I accepted her request and this it the translation I ended up with!
While I was translating, I kept having to stop because I'd start tearing up. I cried when I first listened to the song. The grandmother in the song was really nice... something I don't have. My mother often told me when I was younger on how she felt bad that her children didn't get a nicer grandmother. My mother's mother had died when she was younger, so I never met my grandmother on my maternal side, but my grandmother on my paternal side had always been a part of my life. She was not very trusting of my mother, and often was quick to blame her in any kind of situation, even situations unrelated to my mother. My mom never complained; it just wasn't in her personality to do so and she would always do her best to be a daughter-in-law. If you know anything about Chinese/Taiwanese culture, the worst relationship for a woman is to be a daughter-in-law. Your mother-in-law could pretty much do all sorts of shitty things to you! My grandmother often gave my mother a hard time which caused a lot of trouble even for her own son. When us grandchildren arrived, she would be slightly nicer, but it wasn't really too big of a change. She often liked my sister for being first-born (even though my sister never did anything nice or even cared about grandma) and loved my younger brother for being male. She disliked me merely because I was second-born and female. I have written about things like that before in the past, so those who followed my journal since a while ago might recall something like that.
The funny thing part of it is since my personality was the closest to my mother's, I often went to great lengths to please my grandmother so she'd stop disliking me on the basis that I was second-born and female. I wrote about this before in the past, but I'll just rewrite it here. When I was about 8 years old or so, my mother took me to the local flea market where I found this piggy bank. It was a Chinese style piggy bank, with the piggy all glittery with gold and huge eyes. Kinda like these.
I asked my mom if we could buy it, and she asked "Why?" in which I answered, "I want to give it to someone!" and she had first thought that I wanted to buy it to give to her, but when she asked who I wanted to buy it for, I answered, "Grandma." Knowing that my grandmother had disliked me for the reasons above, my mother was very surprised and asked why, in which I told her, "Because I want Grandma to like me!"
There was actually a short time I stayed with Grandma, too. During that time my Chinese improved since she couldn't speak any English. Other than that, we saw her every Saturday. For most of my life. Currently, I still see her every other week. I became her favorite grandchild as I'm the one that gave her the most attention and I even took care of her when my mother left to see her father in 2003. My sister rarely saw her anymore (I'm sure my grandma still loves her since she is first-born) and of course she'd never stop loving the son, my brother. In recent years she has been losing sense and alertness, so she seems pleased with most things and rarely talks anymore.
After I finished translating it, I told my mom that I did her request. We talked a little about the song and she talked about how she used to live with her grandmother like the singer did, but the reason being was because her mother died when she was young. She had fond memories of her time with her grandmother... talk came to be that it was unfortunate that I didn't have the same kind of privilege, though I replied that over a wonderful grandmother, I'd prefer a perfect mother. Which I do have. Of course, my mom said that she'd be that nice kind of grandmother and I agreed. Though if she wants grandchildren she'll have to depend on my siblings.
I may not have a grandmother like the one in the song, but I can still understand what it's like to miss a family member when they're gone. My maternal grandfather was this kind of nice grandparent, so I was fortunate to at least have one. My paternal grandfather died before I was born, so I have no idea what he was like either. The problem was that my grandfather lived in Taiwan, so I rarely saw him to begin with. I wrote about him quite a bit back in the day in this journal and for those who don't remember, he used to visit our house every summer (2-3 month period) ever since I was around age 9. He'd always fix our bikes and bring over a new bike since he owned a bike shop in Taiwan. At one point, our garage had way too many working bicycles. He'd take us to places like (at the time) Paramount's Great America and Raging Waters. I'm still amazed to this day on how he could actually find those places and routes as he didn't speak a single word of English.
I have a distinct memory of us trying to go to Lion Supermarket when I was around 9~10 years old. My sister, my grandfather, and I, rode bikes toward the supermarket in Milpitas. With the car, it only took a few minutes, so being the silly little kid I was, I told him many times that "It's not that much farther!" and we kept on riding... it actually took us a good 30~40 minutes uphill to get to the supermarket from our house. I still remember his expression that day when we got back home and he just HAD to tell my parents on how far away the supermarket was by bike.
When I was about 12, he suffered a stroke while he was here visiting us and immediately had to be flown back to Taiwan. The timing was terrible-- I was at school during that time and we had our art class. I made this rice wine/sake type tiny cup out of clay (of course it couldn't actually be used) and wrote "Grandpa" in my best Chinese writing. That day was the day I could finally take the cup back home and I was so excited to give it to him, only to find that my mother was gone and that she had flown to Taiwan with my grandfather.
That cup spent 5 years on my shelf waiting for him to come back to the States (I regret not taking any photos of it) before I was able to finally give it to him in my 2003 Taiwan trip at the age of 17. What a huge difference in age. The reason I went to Taiwan in 2003 was because his health started deteriorating along with cancer, so with my mother and my brother we went to see him. It was my first real trip to Taiwan, my previous trip being when I was only 3 years old. I still remotely remember my time there when I was 3, and remembered seeing my grandfather then. Could even be that because we have a recording of the time then that I had an aide to help me remember, but I often had dreams about that time.
The 2003 trip, when I finally was able to see him again, he was quite weak and barely recognized his own family. This was the same year that SARS was around and it made it difficult to travel even in Taiwan, which made it difficult for him to visit the hospital, too. I thought to myself, how different I must be, being a teenager now. I opened up the palm of his hand and placed the cup I had wanted to give him for so many years. He held it tenderly and smiled at me, as best as he could, and I felt sad that I couldn't really communicate with him since at the time my vocal Chinese was so poor. It's too bad I didn't know Japanese then, as he knew the language fluently since Taiwan was ruled by Japan when he was born. He died that year, a few months after I returned to the USA. The night (daytime in Taiwan) he died, I randomly woke up and sat up in my bed. My room suddenly smelled of his familiar Taiwanese cigarettes and peanuts--a scent that he'd always leave behind when he returned to Taiwan. All I could do was cry, because I just knew passed away, even though I actually was told of the news the next morning. Our bikes since then have all rusted or broke and no one could fix them quite the same he could. The current bikes in our house don't have any connection to him. It's unfortunate that I didn't know him better. I wonder where that cup is now? Even in 2011, I still think of him more fondly though the amount of times I've seen my grandmother is far, far greater.
Back to the song, this song was played frequently during the 2010 winter holidays, which hopefully inspired some Japanese to go back home from the big city and visit family that they haven't seen in a while. Young Japanese often move away from their rural family homes because all the opportunities in the big city and many of them just live there for the rest of their lives, even establishing the future generations there. The singer uses quite a few words and nuances that are Kansai dialect, so her moving to Tokyo is quite a distance. It's like moving from Los Angeles to San Francisco.
External link writing about the song. This site is actually for Japanese learning English, but it was one of the few in English that wrote about the song.
Whew, this became long. Sorry about that!