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A Blissful Visit with a Good Friend

By April 5, 2017January 22nd, 20184 Comments

In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit. ~Albert Schweitzer

There are so many kinds of friends we make in a lifetime. Many come and go for many reasons.  A special few remain with us for a lifetime.

We have made a most wonderful friend here in Kyoto.  Matsuzaki Katsuyoshi is a splendid artist; a sculptor who transforms inanimate stone into spiritual omamori, in this case, he carves small deities whose gentleness, and kindness provides protection for its owner. I have come to think his sculptures radiate his own spirit of kindness.   I have several at the entrance to my home who greet me daily as I enter and leave.  Now I have one to watch over our apartment in Kyoto.

I’m not sure I believe things happen for a reason and not by chance alone, although our friendship seems to have been preordained.

I met M-san  at an art exhibit in NYC at a Japanese clothing store I like to visit about ten years ago.  He spoke no English, but through a translator, invited me to his studio on my next upcoming visit to Kyoto.  So began a deep and lasting friendship over the years. We both enjoy laughing at similar things and we both enjoy being silly at times. He’s a master at making goofy faces which seems an unusual skill for an adult male in Japan.

Over the years, we’ve visited him when we’re in Japan and he’s visited us in Santa Barbara.  He’s  become a family friend to all of us, dogs included.  He has learned quite a bit of English and what we can’t communicate verbally, we are able to intuit with the help of google translate or sign language.

We were lucky to visit his sculpture studio yesterday, snug against the hills in far Western Kyoto.  He works in peaceful seclusion in a rural setting at the end of a dirt road bordered by a bamboo forest, and fields. While we were visiting,  a nightingale practised his song from the nearby woods.  The strengthening spring sun radiated warmth and a sense of wellbeing on those of us assembled for the visit.

I eagerly surveyed his recent works assembled in neat rows inside his studio.  More “friends” waited outside.

My daughter requested that he show us all how he worked. Before we knew it, our grandchildren were hard at work, fascinated by the craft. I think M-san might have taken Silvie on as an apprentice if we lived a little closer.


One of his works in particular called out to me, requesting to be brought home.  He made himself at home in our apartment and immediately became a cherished protector of our apartment and its inhabitants.

Between heaven and earth, there is only one you.

We couldn’t bring an end to the afternoon until we quickly agreed to meet again next week.

Dianne Vapnek

In an attempt to slow life's quickening pace, I'm writing to share my personal perspective on the aging process, its dilemmas, the humorous self-deception, the insights and the adventure of it all. I spent the bulk of my time in beautiful Santa Barbara, CA, but manage to get to NYC a few times times a year. I've been a dancer/dance teacher and dance supporter almost all my life. For the past20years, I help create and produce a month-long creative residency in Santa Barbara for contemporary American choreographers and their dancers. It's been incredibly gratifying. This year, I decided it's time to retire! Big change. I also now spend several weeks a year in Kyoto Japan, residing for several weeks in the spring and the fall. I've been magnetically attracted to Japan for many years. Now I live out a dream to live there part-time.


  • Sheri Overall says:

    Hi Dianne ~~ Please tell your ³good friend² that our little guardian angel still welcomes our friends to our home. XO Sheri

  • Akuokuo says:

    What a wonderful story! So glad to have found your site 🙂

  • Mark dendy says:

    What an enchanting story! Last week @ Jacobs pillow we had the same kind of synchronicity upon meeting all friends Matt and Colette are two that you know and it was a wonderful reunion. There were nine of us there including Stephan and Tom and we got so much done. I don’t think I’ve broken the news to you that Mark Dendy Projects is now Dendy/Donovan projects. We are so happy and it reflects the long-standing collaboration between me and stephen that has been so fruitful since 2001 when we did taboo together on Broadway. I have been a little lax in replying to your not out yet posts. But I have read them all and I am completely enchanted by the spring you are having in your second home. We got so much done at the pillow 40 minutes and all. I miss you guys and can’t wait for our next revi 40 minutes and all. I miss you guys and can’t wait for our next reunion. Much love to you and I’m so happy you’re being prolific again in your writings