KIZUNA written and illustrated by Jo Rabjohn
Jo Rabjohn is a fifth generation native Californian who calls Sun Valley, Idaho home. She is an artist, illustrator, award winning toy designer and former teacher at Parsons School of Design in New York City. Rabjohn is also the author of Sun Valley Architecture and Interiors published by Gibbs Smith, and is a freelance writer for Sun Valley Magazine and the Idaho Mountain Express. Other than her professional accomplishments, she is a passionate mother, animal enthusiast, cook, and lifetime creative being. She pours her heart and soul into everything she creates, which in turn, shows within her work.
"I just finished reading Kizuna. It is a brilliant work. The writing and drawings are exceptional. I have no suggestions for change nor should anyone else. Congratulations." Saul Turtletaub Three time Emmy Award nominee, Peabody Award and Humanitas Award winner.
"The future is only the past again, entered through another gate." Arthur Wing Pinero
KIZUNA There are many words related to the earthquake and tsunami of March 11, 2011. And between them, Kizuna was selected to be the word of the year in Japan. It means 窶話ond' and it can be between people and animals. The tragedy took many lives which left difficulties for the to continue a normal life. The Self-Defense Forces mobilized the largest deployment ever, which included armed forces personnel and an army of volunteers. Their heroic efforts were driven by more than professional duty; they were driven by human ties. The efforts in the face of disaster showed the importance of kindness and connectedness. The bonds between all of those in Japan proved strong and resilient. Kizuna is a new awareness of emerging ties within society.
It was a time of carnage and darkness: an age of extinction, when the land was torn by disaster and all living creatures struggled and fought to stay alive. The fish in the sea knew trouble was coming before the others. There was a vibration and rumbling, so low and faint they felt more than heard. page 6
It was March 11, 2011 and a megaquake off the coast of Japan opened fissures as wide as six feet in the seafloor. The fissures scarred the bottom if the ocean where peaceful clam beds once lay. That rupture pushed up a massive amount of seafloor, which in turn triggered a huge tsunami. The catastrophe brought out the best and worst in ocean creatures. Big fish helped little fish. Many were frightened and needed to be loved and cared for. But not everyone was brave and kind. Goemon, a bottom feeder, did not understand the worth of caring for others. When Goemon was approached and politely asked if he wished to join in helping the unfortunate, he released a stream of stinky bubbles! "Oh that's just about enough," screamed a crab. "As if things couldn't get worse, Goemon is smelling up the ocean."
The older and wiser commanded Goemon to leave. page 9
Begrudgingly and with a bad attitude he swam away. Vengeful thoughts festered in his head and he fantasized about gruesome misfortunes that would befall those who came against him. But his selfish hopes disappeared when he saw the damage and misery the tsunami had created. He swam upon a pitiful situation. A group of fish were trapped in a mass of debris, nets and rubbish pulled from the land by the tidal wave. These innocent creatures faced a certain and painful death as their families looked on in anguish. page 10
Goemon grabbed the nets in his powerful jaws and managed to rescue all the captive fish. page 11
But his triumph came with a price. While all the others swam free Goemon became tangled in the debris and was dragged away by the ocean currents. page 12
Time passed. Tides came and went but Goemon didn't return. page 13
His name came up often in conversation and there was much speculation concerning his whereabouts.
Mythic stories about Goemon are now told to encourage the timid and to frighten the delinquent. But the best lesson learned was atonement and goodness are always possible. Goeman will thrive wherever he is. page 15
GOG and MAGOG
The rupture in the sea floor did more than just create a tsunami, the fissure released prehistoric creatures buried and dormant for millions of years. The long sleeping dinosaurs were washed up from the sea and awakened from their aeons of slumber. Dinosaur eggs were washed onto the Japanese shore by the tsunami. Mama dinos arrived to defend their babies but the atomic explosions and blasts of radiation from the destroyed Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant changed the creatures. The radioactivity caused strange mutations in living things. Instead of becoming the giants they once were, the dinosaurs were now small; their growth retarded but never-the-less they retained a feisty spirit.
People had fled to higher ground and distant cities. Dogs, cats and farm animals were just a few of the living things left to fend for themselves. They were confused and bewildered by their circumstances. For protection and survival, dogs once pets, now formed packs. Parrots previously used to browbeating and squawking at their owners now joined together with others forming flocks. Cats remained the same as they always were. page 18
The freshly hatched dinosaurs were enchanted with their beautiful world and were eager to make up for lost time. But they were a breed of ruffians. They lacked social graces and chewed with their mouths open. The other abandoned animals of Fukushima had been trained by their owners to be polite and obedient. At times like these it is important to be kind and respect others' feelings. A couple of pugs said, "Let's invite them to Karaoke tonight. We could all sing together and it might calm them down." That evening the feral pugs of Fukushima and the dinosaurs met at SING-A-POUR KARAOKE LOUNGE. The pugs first started singing ABBA favorites but the dinos wanted 'Barry Manilow's Greatest Hits'. The evening and gaiety made everyone forget their differences. The singing frightened away ills and their merry hearts were better than medicine.
As the hour became late they ended the night with a rousing rendition of "Livin' la Vida Loca" by Ricky Martin. page 21
Singing Karaoke together was a great success, but some dinosaurs tended to backslide. Two flying reptiles, Gog and Magog, had a hard time controlling their prehistoric nature. Much of the time they were a torment to everyone. Mister Crankers, an elderly mushfaced cat, created a plan to channel the unruly into something constructive. It was a discipline of martial arts. They called it DINO-KWON-DO. page 22
The discipline of DINO-KWON-DO cultivated good sportsmanship and moral character. The dinosaurs learned how to protect each other without inflicting injury. All the dinosaurs now had a new way of life that fostered fearlessness, wisdom, love and friendship. Even Gog and Magog became plucky warriors. Together they would yell, "Courage First, Power Second, Technique Third." It became so popular the INTERNATIONAL DINO-KWON-DO TOURNAMENT AND GAMES was created. The events were an extravaganza and contestants were tingling with excitement presenting themselves and kicking dirt and grass with their hind legs. "There will be no biting. I know for you dinosaurs old habits die hard but you must try" announced the referee.
The first match was between a tyrannosaurus rex set to spar with a pug. It did not get too far because the pug had led a sedentary life and was prone to obesity. He just wanted to be scratched in the right spot. The INTERNATIONAL DINO-KWON-DO TOURNAMENT AND GAMES was a grand success, allowing many to regain their courage and self respect. page 24
The tragedy of the earthquake and tsunami will run its course and change Fukushima forever but as time passes all creatures will settle into new lives and live peacefully. Nature regenerates and just as there is a cycle of day and night and a cycle of seasons, there is a cycle of destruction and rebirth. page 25
BEASLEY The insects of Fukushima were also affected by the tsunami and earthquake. Nearby bees were swarming and together they were deciding upon where to create a new hive. They organized, managed and planned. Each bee has a purpose and each time a worker returns to the hive he goes to the Queen to receive new orders. The bees got their governmental system settled millions of years ago. Everyone has a specific job. Some gather water, others gather pollen, clean the hive and perform many other functions. The Queen's job is to lay eggs for the next generation. Scout bees had been sent out to find a new home. They returned and performed a 'Waggle Dance' to describe a place. Other scouts found different sites but together they decided upon their favorite location. The new nest was large enough, protected from the elements, with enough sun for warmth and just in time. The Queen immediately started laying eggs.
Beasley was the first born and the Queen was proudly showing him off to his father. page 28
He grew quickly but was a smarty-pants and didn't get along with other bees. His mother took him aside and instructed him, "In times of disaster and urgency we must work together. There is selflessness and happiness looking after one another." "Oh you look after the bees, after all you're their mother. I want more in life than buzzing around with a bunch of buzzy poop-a-doops." With that he flew away to who knew where? "The way of the fool seems right to him but a wise bee listens to advice," softly spoke his mother as she returned to the hive. Beasley had never been away from the hive and he came upon an ant conversing with a flea. "Small talk," he said with disgust and continued on his way. Later in the evening he met some roaches and was talked into going to a questionable establishment. The boys were all within a tipped over refrigerator inside an empty egg carton making merry with crumbs, dried seaweed and bonito flakes. But after a while a strange melancholy descended upon the jolly crew and an old brown veteran roach said with a sigh: "Well boys, eat, drink and be maudlin for our days may be numbered. For years myself and my ancestors before me have inhabited yonder cupboard but the day approaches when our old homestead will be taken away from here and the tsunami rubble cleared of debris. It is not the cold casseroles and stale garlic bread that I regret so much," said the old brown roach. "It is the golden companionship of the cupboard. Myself and my ancestors have been kitchen and pantry roaches for hundreds of years, countless generations. One of my Victorian forbearers died in a jar of marmalade." "I do not wish to injure your feelings. Yours is a remarkable family history but I don't care about your ancestors," commented Beasley superciliously. "Yes," replied the old roach, unaware of the snub. "I am the last of a memorable line. One of my ancestors was found in the foot bath of the Emperor Hirohito." page 29
Beasley got up and excused himself from the roach get together mumbling to himself, "Get me out of this tasteless pigsty and away from its ragtag members." page 30
As he flew away a wave of regret and nostalgia overtook him. Life in the hive had been orderly and self-sustaining. He found himself longing for the standards he had been raised with. A honey bee cannot survive for long on his own and he began to lose his vigor. Beasley missed home. A fly approached Beasley, "You look down in the mouth," observed the fly. "I was a country bee young and strong and handsome. I lived in a hive with my mother, the Queen, and brothers and sisters and all were busy and prosperous. Now I find myself on the waterfront alone and friendless, gloomy thoughts fill my head and food seems inaccessible. I used to make honey but my idleness has spoiled my work ethic and I fear I have gout in my stinger." "I scoot around sewers, gutters and garbage cans," said the fly "and gather up germs of cholera, typhoid and pneumonia on my wings and feet. Then I carry these germs around and spread diseases to the unsuspecting. I remember a few weeks ago meeting a middle aged spider. 'Hey don't eat me,' I says, 'I serve a great purpose in this world.'" This conversation greatly disturbed Beasley. He rolled his eyes heavenward, put his hands to his head and cried, "Is it ever too late to turn back?"
"It's never too late to turn back. Make amends and start anew." "Who said that?" Out from under a rotting log uncurled an eel shaped, soft skinned creature with horned rimmed glasses. "My name is Byron. I'm a worm; a bookworm. I believe I can help you. Come visit me and spend some time with my books and learn for yourself. You may find answers to your discontent." page 32
Beasley was curious and in need of a friend with substance and character. He took the worms offer and spent time in his cluttered library within the rotting log. The worm guided his selections and he read of times similar to the ones all creatures of Japan were enduring. He found there was hope. Each epoch had its unique demands, ordeals and advancements. The bookworm explained, "This is a time of severity and survival. We must choose; will it be escapism or confrontation, death or life? We must do the best we can, not just for ourselves but for those around us." Beasley stayed with Byron. They shared modest meals and enjoyed discussions late into the nights. It was a season of growth and Beasley decided to write about what he had learned. "And when this time of trial has ended there will be a renaissance where the individual shines. Science, art, literature and architecture will burst forth from the tribulation of prior days," he put pen to paper. "Either nothing is a miracle or everything is a miracle," he quoted Einstein.
Beasley returned to the hive with his writings and to his surprise there was a great rejoicing by every bee. He was now filled with the contentment of permanence. page 35
OKI DOKI There are insects and there are spiders. All are considered bugs. The bugs of Fukushima quietly and by instinct accepted changes in their land and lives. They began to migrate to safer areas. Some could fly alone or in swarms, others walked or crawled. They came in the billions. Tiny small feet and humming little wings. There were stingers, scratchers, borers and slitherers; creepers and crawlers, wiggles with little forked tongues.
Myrtle Snackle was a caterpillar and she travelled on her stomach. In the order of bugs she was of a low station.
Not all of the migrating bugs behaved well. As Myrtle Snackle inched along, a rude stink bug approached and confronted her. Myrtle Froze. The ugly bug raised his bottom and released a vile odor. Myrtle screamed. Out of the grass sprung a Japanese beetle. He let out a fierce battle cry, pulled a sword from his side and propelled himself forward. The bug raised up on his hind legs. "Your behavior is no better than a common street thug. Go back to your kind and be a good example of civility and courage," commanded the beetle. "And remember, excellence is not an act, but a habit." The stinker made a pivot and slunk away deeply mortified.
"Who are you?" spoke Myrtle. The Japanese beetle bowed, "Oki Doki Samurai Warrior. I protect and aid my fellow bugs. It would be an honor if you would allow me to travel with you." "No lady loves a scene and violence always does something to my nerves." With grace she accepted his services as a gift. The two fellow travelers continued on their journey together, sharing stories and learning about each other. But those pleasant moments were not to last. page 39
Each year thousands of tarantula spiders also migrate together. They are horrible things with bulbous bodies covered in hair and faces with eight beady eyes bunched together. Oki Doki and Myrtle Snackle were jolted back to the down side of life as they stumbled upon the tarantula migration crossing their path. It was a venom of spiders.
They had come form South America in a bunch of bananas. A particularly vile spider started to taunt Oki Doki and Myrtle Snackle. "HaHaHa," he said. "Don't tangle with me. I was raised on red hot peppers and blood. My mother had to hold me with oven mitts and nursed me on a tabasco bottle. I'm so flammable, sparks fly from my fangs. You better avoid me when I'm cranky, and I'm seldom not. So bug off and heaven help you if I get angry. I feel a wicked mood coming on." In an instant Oki Doki, Samurai Japanese Beetle and disciplined warrior, crouched down. He lifted his sword to the Rising Sun and lunged forward, aggressive, powerful beyond most beetles. page 41
The spiders backed up. One tripped and fell on his abdomen. The clod behind him wasn't looking, in spite of his eyes, and tripped over the fallen spider. Then a doofus following him became entangled with the flailing legs. page 42
Tempers flared. The migration turned into a ball of mayhem. Tarantula hair was flying. The rumpus could have escalated were it not for the tarantulas wives who called them home for dinner; then promptly ate them. It is the unfortunate truth that this is what happens in tarantula families. page 43
The ruckus was too much for Myrtle.. She fainted and rolled into the fetal position. Oki Doki took advantage of the moment. He wrapped his arms around the limp caterpillar and found shelter under foliage. page 44
The two astraggle fell asleep. page 45
Oki Doki didn't open his eyes till the peep of day. He looked over to Myrtle Snackle but she wasn't there. Above him hanging from a twig was a mummy. "No! Egyptian Dung Beetles must have come in the night and wrapped her up!" Oki Doki was not familiar with caterpillars and their cocoons. "I've failed in my duty. I can never forgive myself." Grief and self-loathing overtook him. He sat guard by the mummy and mourned. Weeks passed but his instinct of honor and loyalty dictated he remain at vigil.
EPILOGUE Forty nights and forty days had passed. Oki Doki still guarded the cocoon but something was happening. The mummy moved. It split open and fell off, and unfurled new life.
"Myrtle Snackle is that you? You've changed." "I have wings now!" she opened her wings and they lifted her. "I am so sorry I failed you. I shall fall upon my sword for the dishonor I have brought upon the Samurai code of honor." "NO! You kept me safe with loving care. You fulfilled your duty. Well done good and faithful servant." page 48
Myrtle Snackle's wings fluttered and a breeze carried her away. Oki Doki reached out toward her only to watch until she could no longer be seen. page 49
© 2013 Jo Rabjohn