Natsukashii – Nostalgic in appreciation

Studio Ghibli movie are going to be on Netflix. Series of classic films will be streaming places outside of North America and Japan.

Remember when you were little you imagined yourself riding on Haku and peering down a city of light? Now that life gets too busy and education has limited your imagination, you can only look back to times that you were young and innocent.

Nostalgic, according to Oxford Learner’s Dictionaries, is “having or bringing a sad feeling mixed with pleasure when you think of happy times in the past. However, Natsukashii, according to a BBC article, it is “a reminder that you are fortunate to have had the experiences you’ve had in life. The fact that you cannot return to those experiences makes them all the more poignant.”

It was snowing outside. I was peering out the window, appreciating small snowflakes slowly descend to the ground. I remembered two years ago this time, it was your first time seeing snow. You were so excited that you ran out of the library wearing just a sweater. You were dancing among the white fluffs with the brightest smile on your face. I always call you my puppy because only puppy can be this excited for something like snow. Little did you know, every time I was with you I was as happy as the first time you saw snow.

A year after we stopped talking. I felt uneasy every time I see snow, especially when I see snow outside the library window. I could see you dancing outside, jumping around trying to catch the white water. I could hear you giggling in my memory. Bittersweet. Or just bitter because I will never be the reason why you are happy. And that thought froze my heart – this is how it felt to be nostalgic.

This year, I was walking on the street when the first snow happened. It has been three years since the first time you saw snow. I imagined you would not be as excited as before. You were probably at home writing your computer science assignment and did not realise it was snowing outside.

I curled up my hands to let the snow gently land on my palms and disappear. A smile spread through my face – it was a smile of sweetness, or it is a smile from natasukashii because although I loved the memory of spending snow days with you, I am just glad that it is in the past. I am at a very happy place in my life. The memories with you no longer pierce through my heart but just makes me smile.

The BBC article said that “Natsukashii is a Japanese word used when something evokes a fond memory from your past. It’s a word you exclaim as a smile creeps across your face.”

Have you ever walked by a group of schoolgirls in uniform and started smiling because it reminds you the fond memories of high school? Have you ever flipped through a photo album and saw photos of your 16-year-old birthday party and started smiling fondly? This is Natsukashii – it is not sadness that the memory evokes, it is joy and gratitude that it evokes.

Christine Yano, professor of anthropology at the University of Hawaii, whose research focuses on Japanese popular culture said, “positive frame put around longing is the essence of natsukashii,” according to the article.

In the article, she continued by saying “I think in Japan, nostalgia has to do with an aesthetic,” she continued. “This is the aesthetic that sees beauty in imperfection, in something not being quite complete, in longing, in yearning, in evanescence, in impermanence, wistfulness, in melancholy. It is an aesthetic invested with emotion and beauty at the same time.”

It is like snow day for me. It will always remind me that I spent your first ever snow day with you. You were overjoyed and I was head over heels in love. It was great to once feel so young and so alive. However, it is time to move forward, I am in a different stage of my life and I cannot make the world stop for me to enjoy the snow.