Ordinary Work

Updated: Sep 11, 2018


There are two couples that live in Japan that I have looked up to for a long time. The first are a professor and his wife that I encountered while I was taking his urban planning studio class at university in Tokyo. The second couple I have never met, but discovered through a book that they published a number of years ago; they live in Aichi Prefecture in southern Japan, many hundreds of miles away from my hometown near Tokyo. This second couple are also urban planners, living in a “New Town” they helped to design as part of the urban expansion project funded by the government during the Japanese post-World War II era. 


Both these couples live modest, quiet lives. They are not particularly wealthy or revolutionary, and yet I hold a deep admiration for how they embody the lifestyle they have chosen. They have shown me, over the years, to find beauty in the humble work we put into our living, in the little things we make and the moments we create. Through them, I have found that “ordinary work” becomes something special because of what we invest in it, whether that be planning a town that still echos the stories of prewar Japan, or building a household that reminds us of the warmth of the homes some of us grew up in, or even something as small as planting an herb garden that then gives shape to the meals we create. 


Today, as I attempt my second round of smoking bacon in the small smokehouse my family and I built in our backyard, I am reminded by these four people of the beauty in that small creation, in the tastes that don’t come from smoke sheets or manufactured liquid smoke, but from our hard work and from the fire that we kindled together. And then to sit around a table and eat what we have created has perhaps been the most intimate and in many ways, one of the most delicious meals I have had.


日本に私が尊敬する老夫婦が二組います。1組は私が学生時代、都市計画の研究室でお世話になった方とその奥様、もうひとかたは、まだ一度もお会いしたことがないのですが実家のある埼玉よりずっと南に位置する愛知県で暮らす御夫婦。本を出版されたことで知りました。この方も都市計画に携わり、高度成長期の日本の成長を支えるためのニュータウン計画に携わった方です。ご夫婦仲良く、決して派手でなく静かに、コツコツと小さなことを積み重ねながら、「普通のこと」をいかにも「特別なことのように」生活を楽しんでいらっしゃるところ、すごく私は感銘を受けます。都市づくり、家づくり、家庭菜園、ものづくりのスケールは様々でもそれに注ぐエネルギーや喜びには何か共通するものがあるのかもしれません。


今日我が家で2回目の挑戦となるベーコンの燻製も、この方たちの影響を受けたものです。今まで過去にスモークシートやリキッドスモークなど試したことはありましたが、自家製煉瓦づくりのスモーカーで気長に作るベーコンは格別に美味しいものでした。結果より過程を楽しむ気持ち、これからも大切にしたいです。

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