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Kai Yasué Kai Yasué

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Kai Yasué

September 25, 1944 - June 4, 2023

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Kai Yasué was born in rural Japan (Nakatsugawa) Sept 25 1944 near the end of World War 2. He grew up in a time and place with incredible food scarcity as the youngest of five and learned creatively to come up with different ways to find food from catching crickets, bees, carps and song birds to hoarding and eating food before his siblings came home from school. His passion for resourcefulness with food continued throughout his life and eventually led him to move to Salt Spring but also led to his uncanny ability to accurately detect the presence of matsutake (pine mushrooms) in surprisingly large quantities from inside a moving vehicle on the highway. 

His dad worked as a caretaker of one of the emperor’s gardens and was later an innovative business-man in forestry and owned a bus company. His mom was a feisty and opinionated, tiny woman who would talk to anyone about her marital woes, including the unlucky (or maybe lucky) person who sat next to her in the plane. 

According to his grade school report card, he was not a very good student in primary school (given his penchant for unprompted presentations). In the 1960s although very few Japanese people left Japan, as a young man he traveled the world from Madagascar to Latin America to Italy to Jordan. He also finished his university degree in French literature and later became a school teacher. Within a very traditional conformist school system, his inability to sit still during the many school formal ceremonies led him to be assigned as a parking attendant and uninvited to all such ceremonies. According to one story he “accidentally” ate one of his student’s pet pigeons. 

He followed the draft dodgers from the US to Canada and ended up co-owning a tourism company (Skyland Travels) with two of his friends.  In Skyland’s downtown Vancouver office, he spent most of his time dragging staff away from their desks to play tennis or go fishing. He openly believed in challenging the neoliberal work ethic and the goal of making money – much to the bewilderment of his Japanese staff and co-owners.  He brought frogs to the office and at one point, rescued baby songbirds that had been trapped during some building renovations and brought them home to care for and later release. Still, as a skilled and resourceful tour guide, he was an asset to the company. The work that brought him the most meaning was leading Canadian clients on back-road cycling tours in rural Japan. His volunteer bike tour for people with disabilities in Japan was highly publicized and led to a dinner invitation at the White House and an opportunity to run it with famous cyclist Greg LeMond. He also took Japanese clients on tours all around the world. He arrived only a few days prior to his clients to a new place and quickly became an expert in the random and beautiful parts of a town. He would make connections with the locals and through these, offered his clients an unstructured but unforgettable experience.  He sold his business in the 90’s and from that point on, called himself “self-unemployed”. 

He moved to Salt Spring Island in 2000 to look for a place with good water, clean air, a bit of sunlight and land. His  dream was to become as self-sustainable as possible. Concerned about people’s tendency to overwork, the resulting destruction of the environment and poor quality of life in urban areas, Kai was passionate about sharing the joys of living on a farm in the countryside with as many people as he could. He wanted people to know that anyone can do it, and this belief fell in line with his persistent passion to challenge conventions for a better quality of life. He had an uncanny ability to sense any Japanese person who stepped foot on the Island, locate them within hours, invite them to his home and quickly convince them to move to the country-side. He has helped numerous Japanese people learn to dream and later pursue their dream of immigrating to Canada so they could work a little less “hard” and be closer to nature. 

Although we did occasionally question where we (as immediate family members) ranked in terms of his priorities and care, we also admired his unusual ability to try to care for everyone and other beings beyond our family. He invited and cared for troubled youth, people with disabilities and their families, as well as a sub-dominant male alpaca with no home. He even took Scotch Broom onto his property. All of this was grounded in the belief that each being could contribute to a community and that we should take the time to be open to the possibility that even beings that are not conventionally valued can have tremendous intrinsic value. 

This philosophy, his interest and curiosity towards all other beings led him to be loved by an incredibly wide network of people. He was quick to make friends in any language and deeply held the belief that he could find some point of connection with just about anyone. He was truly a citizen of the world. 

Even with his cancer, he continued to be creative, resourceful, growth-oriented and public. He created his own hearing aids out of paper-cups, developed all kinds of creative rope and ramp systems to support his mobility issues and worked to try to perfect his singing all the way until the end. As usual, he seemed curious and open even to learn about the new experience of dying and becoming ill. He tried to build community even with other patients and nurses at the hospital and strived to ask busy doctors about their own lives in these appointments. There was a continual array of people who took him to doctor’s appointments and as usual everything (even his final day) was a bit of a party. He was in pain often, but we also laughed a lot and towards the end, he was finally able to slow down a bit and give immediate family members time to actually talk about their emotions – he might have even listened a little more.  Near the end, we saw him cry – which was new for us. He cried tasting something delicious, expressing gratitude to his community or listening to his granddaughter play violin. He was so grateful to be able to die in a community that embraced his eccentricities, fueled his eternal interest in learning all kinds of things including permaculture, hip hop, yoga – even golf. In the end, he lived in a place with ample protein-though he might still have occasionally eaten song-birds and rats- and lots of music. 

訃報 ── 安江カイ

 

安江カイは第二次世界大戦末期の1944年9月25日、日本の田舎・中津川に生まれました。大変な食糧難の時代に5人兄弟の末っ子として育った彼は、誰も思いもつかないような独自の方法で食べ物を見つけるすべを身につけました。コオロギ、ミツバチ、鯉や鳥を捕まえては、兄弟が学校から帰宅する前に内緒で食べたり、保存したりと、彼の生涯を通じて続いた食べ物へのクリエイティブな情熱や執着は、おそらくこの頃に培われ、ついには安江カイをソルトスプリング島へと導いたのでした。その情熱はまた、高速道路を走る車中からでさえもマツタケの群生を見つけてしまうという稀有な才能を育てることになったのです。

 

彼の父親は、天皇所有の庭園の管理人として働き、のちに林業に参入し、バス会社を持つに至りました。彼の母親は頑固で威勢のよい小柄な女性で、運悪く(運よく?)飛行機で隣席に座ってしまった人はもちろん誰にでも夫の愚痴をこぼせるような人でした。

 

小学校の成績表を見る限り、彼はあまりよい生徒ではなかったようです(言いたいことが抑えられない彼の習癖のせいかも)。 1960年代、日本を離れる日本人がほとんどいなかった時代に、青年の安江カイは、マダガスカルから中南米、イタリア、ヨルダンと世界中を旅します。大学はフランス文学専攻で卒業し、のちに教師になります。が、数ある式典中じっと座っていられない彼は、伝統的でみんな同じが強要される学校システムには居場所がなく、ある時から駐車場係に配属され、式に招かれることもなくなりました。 ある筋によると、彼は生徒のペットの鳩を「うっかり」食べてしまったこともあるとか。

 

彼は、アメリカから兵役を逃れてカナダに逃れた人たちに習ってカナダに移住し、友人ふたりと旅行会社スカイランドトラベルの共同経営者となります。バンクーバーのダウンタウンにあるスカイランド社のオフィスで、彼は毎日のようにスタッフをテニスや釣りに誘い出しては、新自由主義的な労働倫理や金儲け主義に公然と疑問を投げかけ、日本人スタッフや共同経営者たちを面食らわせました。オフィスにカエルを連れてきたり、改修中の建物に閉じ込められた雛鳥を救出し、家で世話をして放したこともありました。それでも彼は機転の利く熟練ツアーガイドとして、会社にとっては大切な存在でした。彼にとってもっとも意味のあった仕事は、カナダ人旅行者を対象とした日本の田舎の裏道を巡るサイクリングツアーでした。また、彼がボランティアで主催した障害者のための自転車ツアーは有名になり、ホワイトハウスの夕食会に招かれたり、有名な自転車選手グレッグ・レモンと一緒に自転車ツアーをする機会を得ます。また、世界中のいろいろな場所に日本の旅行者グループを連れて行きました。彼はクライアント到着のほんの数日前に現地に入り、訪れたこともないその土地の魅力をあっという間に見つけ出し、最高の案内人になることができたのです。地元の人たちとすぐに仲良くなり、その繋を活用して、形にはまらない、一生の思い出となるようなツアー体験を提供したのです。1990年代にビジネスを売ったあとは、自分を「フリーの失業者」と称しました。

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2000年、彼は水と空気がきれいで、日当たりのいい土地を求めてソルトスプリング島に移り住みました。安江カイの夢は、できるだけ自給自足の生活を送ること。働きすぎの現代人、それが引き起こす環境破壊、劣悪な街の生活に心を痛め、彼は田舎暮らしの喜びをできるだけ多くの人と共有することに情熱を注ぎました。彼は「誰でもこの暮らしができる」ことを知ってもらいたかったのです。その信念は、より質のよい生活のために既成の考えや方法に挑戦しつづけた執念を裏付けています。彼はソルトスプリング島に日本人が足を踏み入れるとすぐに察知する特異な能力を持ち、数時間以内に彼らの居場所を突き止め、自宅に招待し、そしてあっという間に島に移住するよう説得してしまうのです。彼はたくさんの日本人に夢見ることを教え、さらにはカナダ移住という夢の実現を手助けし、あまり「頑張らない」生き方と自然に少しでも近い生活ができるように尽力しました。

 

私たち家族は、彼の優先順位や大切なものリストのどこに自分たちが位置するのか、度々疑問に思うこともありましたが、家族を超えたすべて人々や生き物を気遣おうとする並々ならぬ能力を尊敬もしていました。彼は自分探しをしている若者、障害を持つ人やその家族、群れでいじめられていた孤児の雄アルパカまで連れてきては、世話をしました。外来種の迷惑雑草スコッチブルームさえも自分の土地に持ち込みました。これらはすべて、個々の存在がコミュニティに貢献するという信念に基づき、従来の価値観にそぐわないものでも、時間をかけてその可能性を受け入れることで、それ生来の本質的な価値が見えてくるはずだ、という考えに根ざしていました。

 

 

 

この哲学と、あらゆるものに対して彼が抱く興味と好奇心が、まさに彼を多くの人から慕われ、愛される存在にしたのです。彼はどんな人とでも何かしらの共通点を見つけることできると信じ、言葉を超えて誰とでもすぐに友達になることができました。彼は真の地球市民でした。

 

ガンとの闘病中でさえも、彼は創造的で、機知に富み、成長を目指し、つねに人と供にありました。紙コップで補聴器を作ったり、自身の歩行を補助するために多種多様な手すりやスロープを工夫導入し、歌唱力を磨くために最期まで練習をつづけました。もちろん、病に罹り死に至るという新しい体験にも興味津々でした。他の患者さんや病院の看護師さんとコミュニティを築こうと努力し、診察のたびに、多忙なお医者さんにどんな人生を送っているのか熱心に質問しました。病院にはいつも誰かしらが付き添い、いつも(そして最期の日も)ちょっとしたお祭り騒ぎでした。痛みに苦しんでいましたが、私たちはいつもよく笑いました。彼は最後にやっと人生を走るペースを緩め、家族たちがそれぞれの思いを吐き出す機会をくれました──少しは話を聞いてくれたのではないかな。最期が近づくなか、私たちは彼の涙を見ました。私たち家族にとってはじめてのことでした。彼は美味しいものを食べては涙を流し、仲間のみんなに感謝の気持ちを伝えては涙を流し、また孫娘のバイオリン演奏に耳を傾けながら涙を流しました。パーマカルチャー、ヒップホップやヨガ(ゴルフでさえも)など、すべてを学びたがった彼のやまない好奇心を刺激し、風変わりな彼をそのまま愛してくれたコミュニティのみんなに囲まれながら最期を迎えることができ、彼は幸せでした。時たま小鳥やネズミを食べたけれど、最後に彼は食べ物に恵まれた土地で暮らすことができました。たくさんの音楽もお腹いっぱい頂きました。

 

これは約一年前に編集した彼の日々の生活の短編映像です

 

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From: Haywards Funerals

Haywards Funerals staff send our condolences to family and friends.

From: Salt Spring Island Jazz and Blues Society
Relation: Kai was a member of our society and regular performer at our Sunday Jam's.

Kai, his music and spirit will be missed.

From: Anne Parkinson
Relation: His oldest daughter and I were friends before I met Kai and family

Kai’s energy and enthusiasm for life will be very missed. A gem, a ray of light and a true humanist. I appreciated his truth and honesty…..and such an imp! Pan has nothing on Kai. His spirit will always be around us. Love to his family. He has left behind some wonderful people in the generations that are following behind him.

From: Susan Beaubier
Relation: Friends

To all of Kai’s family – Kai was an extraordinary man who did extraordinary things and amazed many of us. HIs energy and enthusiasm for everything around him was remarkable. Our life is richer for having known Kai and to be your friends Our sincerest condolences. Susan and Hiram

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