Like an Umbrella Forgotten in the Subway–Riverside Nagoya

essay, Apr. 2019


It was at 2 am. I woke up less than an hour after finally falling asleep. By my side, my husband was sleeping deeply with regular breathing. I strained my eyes to see his face in the dark. I could only see his shapely nose, which was totally different from mine.

We’ve been married for two months now. However, it still feels strange to describe him as my “husband”. I am also not used to being anyone’s wife.

We married on a clear, cloudless day in autumn.

Since it was Sunday, we went through the back entrance of the city office, which we didn’t usually use. The information desk was dim and dusty, contrary to our happy mood. I felt a bit uncomfortable and waited for the marriage registration form to be checked. After checking the form, an office worker said “Congratulations” in a very clerical tone.

With that word, I threw off my last name, which I had been using for 28 years. It was a very common name in Japan, and I wasn’t very fond of it. Still, I felt very awkward, as if I would wear an oversized coat that didn’t fit right as I got a new last name suddenly.

Whenever I go to the bank, hospital and city hall, I’m called by my new last name. Sometimes I feel ticklish around my nose. Sometimes my name sounds like the name of someone I don’ know.

I still write the first stroke of my previous last name when I sign a document.

But one day, surely, I will be able to write my new name without any consciousness.

Then, where will my old name go?

On the way back from the bank, the Nakagawa Canal in Nagoya, which reflected the cloudy sky, was calm. I like to look at the sky while crossing the bridge.

Even in Nagoya, where there are many buildings and apartments, the sky is wide above the river. You can see a Ferris wheel at Nagoya port in the distance, near the border with the sea. When I turned my eyes down, about 10 ducks were floating just below the bridge.

Perhaps my previous name is wrapped in that duck’s feathers. Like an umbrella forgotten in the subway. Or like a lost glove left on the ground, like a kid, who plays Hide n’ Seek very well and is waiting to be found. Maybe my old name hides in a silent, secret place.

While thinking that sort of thing, the dull canal water flows into the sea seamlessly. I took the way home along the canal, seeing the scenery which finally became familiar to my life.

Enjoy Nagoya by cruising Nakagawa canal!
“Cruise Nagoya”
Tel: 052-659-6777
Official Website (Japanese)

written by


Poet and writer in Nagoya. Likes traveling, drinking and visiting bookstores. Always seek good onsen places and sake with my husband.

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