2009 March – June

May the road rise to meet you

May the wind be always at your back

May the sun shine warm on your face

May the rains fall soft upon your fields

And until we meet again

May God hold you in the hollow of his hand

*An old Irish blessing


Sunday, March 15, 2009

G’day Phi. I’ve started a journal. It’s my way of communicating with you because your mother won’t let me see you, or talk with you on the telephone, or Skype you… I’m not even sure you receive my letters and gifts. But one day, you just might type in your real name, Ophelia Hirakawa-Morice, and not the name your mother changed it to. And guess what, this’ll pop up, just to prove that I think of you each and every day.

Pizza Maker

Here’s my Phi helping in the kitchen.

This time last year we were happy campers. You were living with me in Numz and attending Katoh Kindergarten. You were just finishing K2 and preparing to start your final year of Kinder with Sakura, Masako and co.

Everyday we started with our song (Lee Tisdall-Mcphee’s actually, but we made it our own):

Good morning to the sun

            Good morning to the sky

            Good morning to the flowers & the grass

            Good morning to the trees

            Good morning to the grass

            Good morning to Ophi & Daddy

Then it was time for a snuggle from my sleepy bundle of joy. I would scoop you up in my arms and take you downstairs where your cozy beanbag awaited. A few minutes of “Play School” while Dad prepared breakfast and readied your kinder uniform and bag, and then I’d hoist you to the breakfast table to chat and munch… but not before another hug!


Dancing by the river in Numz.

After breaky we’d brush our teeth and hair, wash our face and hands, and jump in our uniform just in time to see Toyomi San back slowly down our dead end street.

Then I would reluctantly head to the front door for school. But I always left with a smile because you’d unlock our living room sliding windows and smile and wave and wish me well. The best part was you’d shout your farewells so all the neighbors heard as well… you’re the best!

45 minutes later Toyomi San would take you off to Kinder and after school Dad would come and pick you up from After Kinder Care. It wasn’t always like that. Until we were lucky enough to find Toyomi San, we jetted off to Ooka Kinder at 7.30am on the bicycle… it was a long day for you, and at first Dad shed more tears than you as we parted ways at the classroom door.

But when we met at the end of our day, it was the most joyous and magic moment for both of us. Your smile melted my heart, and the speed in which you raced into my arms was delicious!


Dancing during another successful Easter egg hunt!

Oh, how I miss those days. I miss you gorgeous, more than anything!

Love Dad…

P.S. I love you more than the tallest eucalyptus is tall!


  • I’m your Dad, and you’re the best thing that ever happened to me


Wednesday, March 18th

Last Sunday I walked in the door from Shizuoka. Nandee, Pa and I went down to Numazu on the Saturday and stayed with Pat. We had dinner at the Wine Bar. Pat ordered your favorite… salmon and mushroom pasta with a cream sauce. Do you remember sitting on the Wine Bar’s tiny balcony with your drawing books? You used to go inside and point to Australia at the top of the upside down map of the world. You were so good, so mature, so charming… everybody’s favorite.


Camping with Dad.

Sunday we were up early and took the 60km journey to Shizuoka from Pat’s. I was entered in the 10km road race the second year running. Last year you were with me. We were both so excited, and you my little Cathy Freeman were keen to run this year, however you’ll have to wait until you’re Grade 4.

Bailey ran this year for the first time, and your great mate Grace came along to cheer. Grace held my hand and asked me where you were, and how you were doing; she’ll be Grade 4 from April.

This year John, Kerry & Ms. Rawnsley (Sonia) ran again. Last year you cheered them on with Pat, Grace & Bailey. Mark, Lindsay & Phil also ran last year. I was pretty happy last year, as I beat the young guns Mark & Phil, and of course you were there to cheer me on! I should have been happier this year as I ran 2 minutes faster than last year, but you see Princess, I wasn’t, because I couldn’t share my joy with you.


Picnic with your Katoh Kindy mate, Masako.

At 40, I clocked 40 minutes and 17 seconds.

I think you’ll become a good runner in time, because your mother was a runner in high school. I recall she was in the top 4 in her class for the ekiden.

Nandee & Pa decided to stay another night in Numazu with Pat. They love it there. They have shared so many wonderful experiences with you at both our homes in Numazu. They miss you so much and are SO looking forward to seeing you. I hope they get to see you soon. Nandee is quite depressed about what’s happening, while Pa is being his typical stoic self. I’ve noticed he’s brought some of those jelly babies you love from Australia. They’re on top of the fridge… unopened. I hope you’ll be in Yokohama soon, or Pa might just sneak a few.


A day at Shimoda with your Kiwi mate, Grace.

See ya Bella… keep jogging! Love Dad.

P.S. I love you more than from here to S-Spot, Numazu!


  • I will probably be 50 years OLD when you finally read this


Saturday, March 28th


With your Nandee…

Today Nandee, Pa and I took the train out to Kokukoen Station to meet you at 10am. I was so relieved… Nandee & Pa have been here in Japan for 3 weeks waiting to see you; Monday they fly back to Australia.


With your Pa & Nandee flying back to Oz…

You looked excited to see me, but after not having seen me for so long, were naturally a little hesitant. My heart went out for you. I asked you in front of your mother if I could attend your upcoming Grade 1 Opening Ceremony. You were so cute and immediately answered “YES!” To your mother’s credit she actually told me the date, but added she will have to check with the school to see if it’s allowed… I feel so cut off from you.

At first you were a little shy with Nandee & Pa, but it wasn’t long before you were dragging them around the Aviation Museum in Kokukoen Park. Hand in hand it was just like old times for you and your Aussie grandparents. Nandee had some presents for you so we opened them inside the museum. Then we walked to Tokorozawa and had tempura for lunch. You wanted to sit next to Nandee and practice drawing horses.

Next we took the train to Ikebukuro and onto the Toyota Amlux Showroom. Luckily for us, “Pure Cure” were in concert, so you climbed onto Dad’s shoulders and enjoyed a bird’s eye view of Rouge et al and their “GIRL Power”. You were so excited! We sat in a few cars and took imaginary trips to the beach… “Shimoda here we come!” and camping at our favourite river bend up beyond Gotenba.IMG_0919

After a coffee and coffee scroll, Nandee took you to an area where they had 3 blow-up air castles. I was most impressed with your confidence, and the manner in which you held your own in a pushy line of excited kids. We did a puzzle or two on a bench in the shopping center, had a quick bite to eat at a family restaurant, before the two of us return to Tokorozawa Station to meet A. Nandee and Pa said a sad farewell to you at Ikebukuro, Nandee trying unsuccessfully to hold back the tears, before you went to sleep in my arms on a busy train.

I wonder when Nandee and Pa will see you again… It was wonderful to hold you, to feel your perfect heart calmly beating… even if you did weigh a ton! I must do some push-ups soon… either I’m getting weaker, or you’re getting heavier!


Back to school!

It was a long trip back to Yokohama. Nandee and Pa were as depressed as I am. They head back to Melbourne on Monday. They’ve been here 3 weeks and have only seen you for 7 hours. I wonder if your mother realizes the pain she is causing. They couldn’t even talk to you on the phone during their stay. A wouldn’t allow it…

Take care Bella!

P.S. I love you more than from here to the moon!


  • My name is now Gerard Daniel Morice. I changed my name to Gerard Hirakawa-Morice when I married your Mum. I wanted to do so because Yuta was keen to see his family name “Hirakawa” passed on. So you were born Ophelia Hirakawa-Morice; your mother has changed your name and her name to “Ishijima”


Monday, April 13th


What a smart looking cookie!

Your first day of school. Can you believe it!? It seems like yesterday that we were riding to and from your kindergartens in Numazu in rain, hail & snow. Most days it was sunny & funny!

I called this morning before school to wish you well on your big day… I called again this afternoon, but I guess A has decided it’s best you don’t hear from me. Recently I call daily, but it’s been weeks since the phone has been answered.

I just wanted you to know I was thinking of you all day. From the minute you woke, to putting your uniform on, eating a nervous breakfast and taking the train with the grade 6 leaders. I imagined you sitting quietly, listening attentively, and wondering who might become your best friend. It was only a half day, so you would have gone home for lunch to tell your Mum about your adventurous first day… I so wish I could hear all your news, who you sat next to, what your teachers are like, how was the school tour, were the grade 6 leaders kind?

Love you gorgeous!

P.S. I love you more than from here to Melbourne, Australia!


  • Thy secret is thy prisoner, if you let it go, thou art a prisoner to it


Monday, May 4th


Ferris wheel in Yokohama.

It’s been a long, wonderful weekend. I picked you up at 2pm Saturday and together we went to the Science Museum in Yokodai, Kanagawa. We were having a ball until they closed up shop at 5pm. There’s so much to do there, we’ll have to go again. There’s a whole floor dedicated to space, and you impressed me with your memory of your Space Theme in K2 at Katoh Kindergarten. You were Mercury up on stage for the Kabato Concert. You studiously informed me of the planets’ names, and their position and order to the sun. We learned that a kilogram on Mercury feels the equivalent of 27kg on Earth! You clever thing!



We took the short train & bus trip back home to #705, had a quick play in the tent, and then Pat and her NZ mates (Christine & Glenda) arrived. Yes, we made a tent out of loads of sheets, clothes pegs and the 7 dining chairs. We crawled in and read stories together… and then we heard “Ding, dong, ding, dong!” Wow, didn’t Patty get a big hug!


Lego time with Dad…

It didn’t take you long before you had the 3 grandmas all chatty and smiles. You raided the dress-up box, and after a few changes of outfit decided on the beautiful lime dress Jon and Kiri brought you back from Vietnam. After settling your dance outfit you taught Glenda & Christine how to write hiragana. Dad cooked and we all shared a few laughs.

Pat was a bit teary to see you so at home and relaxed. I guess she wishes you were still living with Dad, and we were back to our old routines in Numazu when Pat used to come around every Wednesday night for dinner and loads of stories.

After dinner you had us all dress up as princesses and princes, before we all had a dance to Madonna and Fergie’s Big Girls Don’t Cry… except for Pat!IMG_0983

Sunday morning, we had a play in and around the tent, practiced riding the bicycle for about 3 minutes… you’re not too keen… yet. I wish you were, but that’s you, and as long as you’re happy, I’m the happiest Dad in the world.

We all jumped on a bus to Sakuragicho and enjoyed lunch in a dog-friendly café. You had a spicy-nicy curry rice. It actually had a kick, but you spooned it all down.


Dancing queens!

We walked up the hill to the zoo… actually you took a piggy-back and we sang made-up songs about animals in the bath. Almost immediately we went to the petting area, ‘cause we were short on time. I took a nice two-shot of you and Pat cradling a tiny baby chick, and Glenda bravely draping a snake around her neck.


Petting zoo with Aunty Pat.

Finally, we raced down the hill and caught the train to Ebisu where Nori-Baba met you. It was so grand to finally see you! Oh, I miss you!

Luv & licks, Dad… XoXo.

P.S. I love you more than from here to the wine bar in Numz!


  • You weighed 3400 grams when you were born; a blue whale weighs about 3000kg at birth


Friday, May 8th

How’s Dad’s Princess? Next Thursday Mum & Dad will go to the Yokohama Family Court. I’m nervous but positive about attending, because I’m hopeful the mediation will guide Mum & I to work together on your behalf. Conflict-resolution programs are designed to assist separated couples like your Mum & Dad. It will help us develop attitudes and skills that will enable us to become cooperative parents. Research from all over the world suggests it is best to have both parents actively involved in the lives of their children. I just hope Japan’s version of mediation challenges your Mum & I to focus our interest on you, and put our own interests aside.IMG_0259

Let’s keep our fingers’ crossed shall we?

Enjoy your weekend Possum!

P.S. I love you more than from our home in Numazu to the top of Kanuki Yama!


  • It takes a lot of courage to release the familiar and seemingly secure, to embrace the new. But there is no real security in what is no longer meaningful. There is more security in the adventurous and exciting, for in movement there is life, and in change there is power (Alan Cohen)


    Showing off your camp t-shirt.


Sunday, May 10th

Good evening Phi. How was your weekend? You should be in bed by now. I hope your mother read to you this evening, perhaps even told you a story, sang you a song.

Remember our trips up Mount Kanuki? Sometimes we’d take the big orange car & drive to the car park half way up, and other times, particularly when the mountain was swarming with hikers and picnickers, we’d ride the bicycle to the bottom and hike our way up. Often you would be the tallest of our group, towering over the crowd swinging your legs, breeze in your hair up on Daddy’s shoulders.

Nandee & Pa have been up so many times with you, Uncle Rich, Aunty Rach & Baby Allie have all accompanied you to the top. We’ve had so many picnics with the Hamer family, John & Kiri, Bailey & Grace, the Palmers and all our grand mates in Numazu.


Toban – camp leader for your group!

Often we’d hike around to the hidden playground area that mysteriously was always quite empty. There was the flying fox, the swings and the monkey bars, but usually you, Grace and Nicola set about playing make-believe games. Sometimes you’d gather flowers and create a secret-soupy mixture, and often you’d prance race around like a horse, returning for a hug and a bite to eat.

I miss you Phi-Fai-Fo-Fum!

P.S. I love you more than from here to the flying-fox at the top of Mount Kanuki!


  • I used to cut your fingernails too short. It was one of the few things you complained about. Did you know that your fingernails grow more than 3 times faster than your toenails?


Thursday, May 14th

This afternoon from 1pm to about 4.30pm, your Mother and I attended our first session of mediation in the Yokohama Family Court. It was awful. I can’t believe our lives have come to this. At no time did we see each other, instead we sat in separate rooms to wait our turn in front of the panel. I was under the impression that mediation would assist us in communicating, in listening to each other. It seems it simply exasperated the tension. We spent the last hour shuffling in and out of the mediation room trying to agree on a date for your next visit. It seems I’m an inconvenience to your Mum… all I want to do is see you… your Mum hasn’t let me see you for over a month, she hasn’t answered the telephone for more months/weeks than I care to recall. The only positive thing to come out of today’s proceedings is that I am now allowed to contact you over the phone 3 times each week at around 6pm.

It was, and is my belief that constructive co-parenting will assist you to adjust to our separation. It seems however, that the norm in Japan is for the mother to control visitation and that one day per month, for a period of 2 hours is deemed reasonable.

I was in shock and barely able to talk, but I stated that such a proposal in any reasonable person’s eyes didn’t seem fair. From mid March 2004 you have predominantly lived with me. Nandee & Pa arrived just 3 days after Mum was asked to leave our home. They stayed for 12 weeks as I organized kindergarten for you. Nandee and Pa eased you into kinder an hour here, then 2 hours, 3 hours the next week, until you were somewhat use to your teachers and new buddies, and until their visa dictated they had to fly back to Oz. You never really got use to Ooka Kindergarten…


Another picnic with Sakura.

But truth be known, Dad probably cried more than you those first few mornings I dropped you off.


Even Sakura Chan enjoys your Dad’s bento boxes!

Fortunately you were only 17 months old at the time and a true angel. Luckily you were too young to understand the tragic events that tore A and I apart. In any case, that was a long time ago and we’ve both sensibly moved on. To this point we’ve lived with a detached respect for one another as parents. With you in mind we’ve been polite and communicated for your benefit. It appears A married a year ago (I didn’t know). That’s great news. I truly hope Mum finds the happiness I tried so hard to give her. I’m not sure why this changes our agreement to bring you up consulting each other, and outside a court of law. My guess is that the pressure to cut me from your life is coming from his family, but I can’t be sure. I can’t imagine Jiji & Noribaba backing your Mum on this issue, particularly as they first sided with me, to ensure your safety & wellbeing.

I miss you more than ever tonight. I wish I could read you stories and fall asleep next to you, and dream with you…

Goodnight Princess… XoXo…

P.S. I love you more than you can ever imagine.


  • When we passed through tunnels in the big orange car, or the train, or bus we used to try and hold our breath. I wonder how we would go through the Seikan Tunnel connecting Honshu with Kyushu; it’s 54km long!


Thursday, May 21st

G’day Phi. Another late day for Dad. Our report cards are due tomorrow, but I’m feeling pretty good as I’ve inputted all my kids’ comments and grades. Got away at 6pm and called you from the school gate. We talked for just over 3 minutes, which is a pretty long time for a fun and joyful 6 year old. I told you about 2 books I bought for you. The first book is Madagascar II, which you saw earlier in the year with mum. We used to watch Madagascar I over and over again with you on my lap or relaxed in your gray beanbag.

IMG_0475There were so many of your favourites that quickly became my favourites when I was a part of the joy they brought you. Black Beauty, Shrek, Totoro, The Lion King, and probably your best of the best, Spirit. Do you recall jumping from our black leather couch into the soft inviting beanbag? You would bravely climb to the top during an especially exciting moment in the movie, raise your eyebrows, give me a cheeky grin and j…u…m…p! Then you would giggle, giggle, giggle. If it was a particularly scary moment, you’d run and jump into my arms and snuggle into me.

So back to Madagascar, even I remember the main characters. Let’s see there was Mardi the crazy zebra, Alex the sometimes brave lion, Gloria the ladylike hippo, and Marmon, or is it Malmon?, the hypochondriac giraffe.

Oh, almost forgot, the second book I bought you is titled: Up on Dad’s Shoulders… I wonder when I’ll get a chance to read it to you… Let’s hope it’s soon.

Anyway, you seemed pretty happy on the phone, which is the most important thing. Just wish it was me reading you a story tonight.

Luv & licks, Dad.

P.S. I love you more than Malmon/Marmon loves his assorted drugs!


  • Does your mum say anything nice about me?


Friday, May 22nd

Photo 47

What a pair of duffers!

We had our Spring Concert today at school. It was absolutely amazing! David (my teaching partner) and I did a funny play about space. We used David Bowie’s Space Oddity song, changed the words and lyrics and made one of our kids, Chang Young (who’s from Korea) the star of the show. It was titled Major Chang. We had four narrators, with half the class wearing headphones from ground control, the other half in silver (tin foil) helmets representing astronauts.


Who’s a cutey?

The story goes that Major Chang brought some aliens back to Earth. So in Art the past week we’ve been creating alien head-pieces. We took loads of photos of the kids in their dress-ups all around school and we even walked them through Motomachi and down to the station. We put all the photos up on a Powerpoint and the audience just loved it. Today we watched it last session; it’s up and running on Youtube.

Towards the end of the performance, the grade 4 & 5 choir sang 4 songs. They sang the most beautiful song, called One World. Truly amazing! It almost made me cry seeing those kids from so many different countries standing side by side and singing as one. If only adults could be so sensible. I thought of you over and over, and wondered and hoped that you will have the same opportunities in the near future at your school.Photo 24

In years to come, unless your Mum suddenly changes her ways and accepts the fact that your Dad is Australian, your grandparents, cousins, aunts & uncles are all Aussies, you’re going to find it trying coming to terms with your identity. I’m failing in reaching out to your Mum… she doesn’t seem to understand that the time we’re missing out on by not being with each other, will never ever be replaced. Mum studied sociology, so she respects research and the vast majority of research on shared parenting is positive. So I’ve taken the liberty of forwarding some articles to your Mum… “Your children need time with both their parents, time which is meaningful” (Funder, K. 1996, Remaking Families)., & “Shared parenting arrangements can produce happier children and more satisfied parents…” (Parkinson, P & Smyth, B. 2003, When the difference is night & day). Let’s hope the articles and the mediation panel assist her in becoming more cooperative.

Anyway buddy, I think you’re lucky because you’re bicultural & bilingual, and you’re blessed because you’re loved by the Hirakawa’s, but also by the Morice clan in Melbourne, Australia. Though your Mum at this stage refuses to acknowledge our presence, you deserve to be surrounded by caring multilingual people and multicultural people, respectful and welcoming to difference. Your Japanese nationality is important, but so too is your Australian heritage to your identity.Photo 17

I love you Missy Hig’s (that’s Missy Higgins, who we used to listen to).

P.S. I love you more than your Mum will ever know…



  • I have neat handwriting. When I was about 10 years old my uncle Jeff managed to secure me the prize signatures of nearly all the Carlton footballers. All the signatures that I thought were messy I erased, and wrote out their names neatly… Baka ne!


Tuesday, May 26th

Today at school they started advertising a groovy show in our theater: Phantom of the Opera. I would love to take you, but maybe you’re a few years away from enjoying such drama. I’m not sure though, as I remember my mum taking us to the pantomime and university musicals and the sort as kids. I loved them, and hope some day we’ll sit side by side watching the classics: Les Miserables, Cats, Miss Saigon, Mamma Mia… A French orchestra is going to play and the old black & white version of the Phantom will screen.IMG_0621

Before I started writing this journal, we had a few events in the theater that had me thinking of you. The first was an Austrian Ballet Company performing Swan Lake. It was incredible, even my grade 4 boys sat spellbound. It must have proven quite expensive because YIS (Yokohama International School) also attended. The other show that’s worth mentioning was a band from the Yokosuka & surrounding US bases. They sang and played Christmas carols for over an hour, before Santa hit the stage. The kids loved it… it’s a shame you weren’t sitting in the front couple of rows with the grade one students… you would have just loved it! I love you!

I wonder if you know that you were enrolled to attend Saint Maur from January 2009. I’ve asked my principal, Jeanette Thomas to testify that this is the truth. You would have been finishing up in the Montessori Kindergarten preparing to start Grade 1 in August with kids from India, Canada, Philippines, Korea, China, France, Germany, Australia, NZ and of course Japan…

Take care angel…

P.S. I love you more than here to the Earth’s inner core…


  • True genius resides in the capacity for evaluation of uncertain, hazardous and conflicting information (Winston Churchill)


Wednesday, May 27th


Bedtime story with your Nandee.

This morning the Grade 1 classes invited my Grade 4 class to their interactive assembly. Their theme was: Countries of Our World. They were in groups of 2 or 3 students, and they each had a country to talk about. Each collaborative group started with a map, and talked about the capital city, the weather and the type of money used. Then they gave the audience a choice of what next they would like to learn about. My Grade 4 students could choose from: free time activities, national dress, or famous sports. The Grade 1 kids then used handmade brochures to inform the audience. They even had some pictures of what people might have looked like thousands of years ago. They were fantastic, and despite some dubious facts, my Grade 4 students kept a straight face, not giggling too much. Finally the Grade 1 students had drawn and painted landscapes of their chosen country. Their oral presentations were incredible!


Happy days with your Nandee & Pa.

I couldn’t help but think you would be doing a similar thing very soon. I hope you’ll have the opportunity to explore different countries, cultures & customs. Such an education would help you feel comfortable about your international identity.

I’m trying to convince your mother that there are many benefits to shared parenting. “…[C]hildren in shared care arrangements are more satisfied and appear to be better adjusted…” (Kelly, J. 1988, ‘Longer-term adjustment in children of divorce’). It’s commonsense that you’re going to cope better in the coming months and years if your mother and I work collaboratively. Ever increasingly however, I have been reduced to onlooker status. I want to be actively involved in your life, to be there for you when you need me, to help you with your homework, to wash the blood from a scraped knee, to nurse you and rock you when you’re sick, to listen to you when you feel threatened or bullied at school…

I so wish you’re at St. Maur for first term of Grade 1 starting in August 2009. It would be a dream come true to see you presenting in English this time next year, standing beside a child from Kenya, Canada, France or India.


Dinner at Coeur with Nandee, Pa & Pat.

Good night angel…

P.S. I love you more than a hungry horse enjoys her hay!


  • It’s Dad’s birthday in four days… AND the best present ever is that we’re scheduled to meet this weekend!


Friday, May 29th


Helping out in the kitchen.

G’day Phi. We’ve got some bad news buddy. Your Mum has cancelled this weekend. I just heard from Kyoko, my lawyer. She said she had contacted Murakami San (Mum’s lawyer) several times to see if A had changed her mind regarding our get together this weekend. But I guess, A couldn’t see my point of view.

I want to go to Kamakura beach for my birthday, to have a picnic and a splash as summer begins to warm up. And I’d like to celebrate with you… maybe next year hey?

I have a photo of you pinned to the front of my desk at school. You’re splashing about at Shimoda this time last year. You look so happy. The kids in my class often ask when you’re coming to Saint Maur. In fact Nirmal (a sensational Indian boy) asked me about you today. Your photos surround my desk and computer, so when I first began teaching at Saint Maur I saw no reason to lie to the children. I told them you’d be attending the Montessori Kindergarten from January, as A and I had agreed. But it’s almost June and you’re still not here beside me.

I’m so worried about you because research suggests that children who adjust best after divorce are the ones who don’t lose a relationship with a parent because of separation (Pryor, J. 2001, Children in Changing Families).

I guess it’s selfish of me to want to see you on my birthday… Sing us a song babe…

P.S. I love you more than the number of times you galloped up and down our cal de sac as a horse!



  • My favourite joke: What’s the difference between snot and broccoli? Grade 4 boys won’t eat broccoli!!


Monday, June 1st

We just spoke on the phone. I’m so excited, ‘cause this coming weekend your Mum has finally agreed for us to see each other! You seemed pretty happy about the grand plan too.

You told me you went to a doctor to have a tooth pulled. I’m not sure why you went to the doctor… Dad thinks you should just let a wobbly tooth run its course… it’ll fall out sooner or later; in any case you didn’t seem too concerned. I said you should put the tooth under your pillow, because the tooth fairy will come through the night and leave you a little something. You didn’t seem too sure about whether such fairies came in Japan.

I asked you what you would like to eat for dinner this weekend. Straight away you suggested curry rice, and then a video on the couch… Narnia II; Dad’s a bit slack, he didn’t know there was a sequel to Narnia… hope the video store has a copy!

Can’t wait for this weekend!!!! I’m picking you up 3.45pm Saturday on the platform at Ikebukuro, Shonan-Shinjuku Line, last carriage of the train leaving from Yokohama… returning you at 4pm Sunday. I heard this news from Kyoko today. It was A’s message via her lawyer, through Kyoko, and finally the baton passes to me… how ridiculous. Why can’t Mum just pick up the telephone… she could do so in front of you… it would be so good for you to hear us chatting.

Actually last weekend was confirmed at the last mediation on May 14th, but even then A threatened to withdraw visitation if I persisted in trying to see you more often. I would love to see you every day, but I’ll reluctantly settle for every other weekend.

Anyway Phi, I just hope you are coming… Sorry, I know I sound twisted and bitter… I just want to see you… I love you!

P.S. Can’t wait for a hug!!!


  • Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending (Maria Robinson)


Monday, June 15th

Hello Gorgeous! How’s my favourite possum? Been climbing any trees recently? Ohhhh… how I would love to build you a tree-house this weekend!

This morning from 10am to noon your Mum and I were in mediation at the Yokohama Family Court again. Truth is Bella, I don’t really understand how and why this is all happening. I’m so bewildered and confused as to how this could be allowed to happen to the wonderful relationship we share.

My message again is that your mother and I have to put our differences aside to realize the benefits of co-parenting. In compensation to you, considering that our marriage didn’t work out, successful communication is the best gift we can give you, our most treasured daughter.

It goes without saying that how well you adjust in future months and years, depends on how sensibly we handle your care. Communication is the key to you becoming a bright, confident, comfortable spark!

It’s so important that your Mum presumes I have good intentions. I want to be a part of your life, to be there for you when needed, and to discuss what’s best for you with your Mum in terms of education, travel, family visits, identity & culture.

She is so well aware of our bond, our affection for one another, how from a very early age you would choose to snuggle into me, take my hand, jump up on my knee… My fear is that she feels somewhat threatened. She knows you’re the most important person in my life, that I need you, as much as you need a Dad.

At the same time, it’s apparent by Mum’s aggressive behavior that she perhaps feels some guilt for her past negligence when it came to your care. I’m fearful she has decided to cut me out of the equation entirely…

I don’t want you to miss out, to feel distant from me, but thus far this bitter argument and conservative mediation is costing me a daughter, and you a Dad. All I want is what is fair, what is right and what is true. At the very least we must see each other more than once a month… to be in your presence, to chat, laugh and hug… is that too much to ask this panel in court?

Oh Phi, if only we could turn back time… Luv & licks, Dad.

P.S. I love you more than you enjoy a hot chocolate milk in your favourite beanbag watching your favourite video, Spirit!


  • In exactly 3 months’ time you’ll be 7 years young (old)


Saturday, June 20th

How’s my clever, clever 1st Grader tonight?

Dad visited your school today. You looked so smart, yet shy in your school uniform. You sat quiet and composed, listening to every word of the teacher. Occasionally you glanced at your Mum and me with your beautiful, gentle, gracious smile. At one point you put your hand up to a question and completed the teacher’s sentence: “Mogura ga moguru… ma, mi, mu, me, mo.” Is that right? I’m not exactly sure what it means but I had a lot of time to fondly remember you and your comment on the journey home to Yokohama. Perhaps next time you can translate it for me. I am so proud of you… you clever thing… fancy being 6 years old and bilingual!

You’ve made your Dad very proud today!

P.S. I was just listening to this song and it immediately made me think of you…

“It’s something unpredictable,

But in the end it’s right,

I hope you have the time of your life” (Glen Campbell, Good             Riddance).


  • You were so cute when you used to cough. You would exaggerate your cough but politely cup your hand over your mouth. Did you know that air rushes from your lungs at 965 kph when you cough?


Tuesday, June 23rd

How’s my splendiferous daughter?

I just had dinner with Akko. She works in the office at school. She knows a little bit about my situation; actually she met you once, down by the supermarket at Saty. Akko is the lady who put me onto Kyoko, my lawyer.

Before Akko arrived this evening I was clearing out the shoe boxes getting ready for my big move this coming weekend. Yes, Dad is moving again! This place is just too big and ghostly for just me. Your bedroom is set up, your curtains hanging, your toys in their place on shelves, your clothes neatly folded and packaged away in labeled drawers… Your bedroom looks great, but since I’ve moved here in Yokohama, you’ve probably slept in your bed less than 5 times.  There were several pairs of shoes, sandals, slippers that belonged to you, but when I came across your 17cm black school shoes that you used to wear to Katoh Kinder, tears welled in my eyes. I sat on the end of my bed grasping your smelly (sic) shoes tightly. So many memories came flooding back… you in your uniform, you clinging to me at the door, you shouting goodbye as I jumped on the bicycle, you requesting another hug even though I was late for school, and me so, so, so glad to oblige, sliding the fly-wire screen aside and scooping you up for a hug and a kiss…

I love you…

P.S. I used to ride to school thinking I was the luckiest Dad alive. You are so special! Thank you!!!


  • You LOVE Pure Cure. You love Rouge the best


Wednesday, June 24th

Bonjour Darling!

It’s 9.30pm and I’ve just finished chatting with Milton, a friend of your Mum’s too. He’s a good man, I should see more of him. He’s a good listener and a good talker… the gift of the gab, just like Nandee. His parents are from Greece and settled in Melbourne. On December 31st 2000, your Mum and I were invited to his sister’s New Year’s Eve Party in Melbourne. It was fantastic. It reminded me of a scene out of Alibrandi (a movie and a grand book… you should read it!). The whole backyard was set for a wicked party. The most glorious food… copious amounts of cake, meat, salad, wine… and an entire spit roast!

There was even a dance floor. We were encouraged to dance, with the old aunts taking Azusa by the hand… we were made to feel so welcome. It was a great night, except for the pathetic fireworks the City of Melbourne put on. Maybe Japan spoils me with their awesome fireworks.

I felt very close to your Mum that night. Milton’s family really reached out to us, and your Mum being new to Australia found a group of beautiful people warmly embracing her.

I loved your Mum more than she’ll ever know…

P.S. I’m sorry your Mum and I couldn’t make our marriage work. It was my dream. I’m sure we both wanted it to…


  • If you are a struggling reader, all you have to do is look tough and say nothing, and then you will become invisible (Richard Vacca) I wish I could help you with your reading…


Thursday, June 25th

Evening Precious,

At last we had a chat tonight. I’ve been calling and calling, but… the phone is rarely picked up. BUT tonight, we talked! I asked you whether the pool at school had been cleaned, and you told me you’d already had a lesson. Then you had a giggle. You said it was FREEZING and there was only a COLD shower after the lesson. You were laughing about being so cold and I felt so alive and so close to you. I felt connected to my adorable daughter even if I was just holding phone.

Where ever I am, where ever you are, it’s moments like tonight’s telephone conversation that I feel you nearby, so close if I close my eyes I can feel your presence. I just wish I could hug you, read to you, cook for you, laugh with you… but I don’t have that luxury…

Goodnight sweets! Sweet, sweet dreams…

P.S. It’s lovely to hear that sparkle in your voice, it’s better than a Carlton Grand Final victory!!!


  • You only ever threw one tantrum. You were two and we were shopping at Seiyu which was just about our daily excursion place