A Family Day in Nagano

I enjoy learning about people’s histories—what is important to them, what they have had to sacrifice, what they are most proud of. I got to spend 24 hours in Nagano with Sinal, a fellow Capoeirista, and his wife and two children. They are truly a beautiful family. I can tell that they have a balanced dynamic and that they find joy together in raising their children.

Sinal's son is a two year old tornado. His laughter is a charm, and when he is frustrated, or sometimes for no reason at all, he grabs things, anything, and throws them. Their four year old daughter is a sweetheart. She is so curious, but also extremely shy. She has a hard time doing the thing she wants to do if she is a little afraid, but her parents encourage her.

Sinal used to be a rice farmer who did leather work and other crafts on the side. Now, he works at a factory making leather school backpacks for kids. Nearly every kid I saw in Nagano had one of these special backpacks. He says it is very hard work, and while rice farming was also physically laborious, the factory work exhausts his spirit. Working in this more difficult environment allows him days off, though, like this one that we shared together.

There are a lot of rice farms in the Ueda area. It stretches across a mountainous valley and parts of the mountain side. Last night’s sunset was so calm, as were the birds chirping in the cool air this morning. He and his family live in an old traditional Japanese house on a hill. It is a spacious house, but the four of them share a room anyways—at least while the kids are still small. There are toys strewn everywhere and their youngest son has punctured through most of the paper that fills the squares in the wooden sliding doors throughout the house. They’ve tried to patch some of them up with more paper, or color swatches, or their children’s artwork.

Sinal has turned the top floor into a Capoeira studio. It’s a large room with wooden floors and a layer of chalky dust, presumably from his creative projects. He has an old school boom box and a stack of Capoeira CD’s beside it. At least 10 sticks are propped up against the far wall. One of them has the bark peeled back 3 inches. He says he is trying to see if Japanese trees will work to make Berimbau’s. 

Per usual, I was struck by the quietness of life in Nagano, but I quickly forgot all of this as I melded in to the traditions and warmth of this lovely family.