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VOX POPULI: Moving house less sweet, more bitter in a truck driver shortage

Hokusai Katsushika (1760-1849), an ukiyo-e painter and printmaker of the Edo Period (1603-1867), was

Hokusai Katsushika (1760-1849), an ukiyo-e painter and printmaker of the Edo Period (1603-1867), was apparently a fiend for moving. Until his death at age 89, he was said to have changed his residence 93 times.

In one extreme instance, he moved three times in one day.

Probably because of his absorption in art, his home must have been a total mess, and he simply decamped when the clutter got out of hand.

But then, it also appears that he enjoyed changing his environment, as he said he hoped to move 100 times in his lifetime. Perhaps his frequent relocation enlivened his style of art, which continue to evolve until the end.

Spring is the peak of moving season, with people starting schools or new jobs or getting transferred out of town.

Moving to a new address feels like acquiring a new identity, as I am sure some people would agree. But that is why there is also a tinge of sadness--as if leaving one's old self behind--when one's belongings are all packed up for the move.

Poet Hiroshi Sekine described this bittersweet sentiment: "I am leaving this place that is marked with my own time."

Sekine was leaving behind his old "kotatsu" and "hibachi" heaters he no longer needed. "But I am sad not because of that/ I am sad because I am leaving behind many memories I cannot take with me/ Even on a big truck."

This spring is said to be unlike any in the past due to a shortage of truck drivers. A story in the business section of the March 8 issue of The Asahi Shimbun noted that some people may not be able to move on their designated days.

It looks like this season is going to be more "unsettling" than usual.

Sekine made this promise to his left-behind memories, "I swear to come back and retrieve you."

Indeed, after you are settled down in your new environment, why not revisit your old place, even if only in your heart?

--The Asahi Shimbun, March 9

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Vox Populi, Vox Dei is a popular daily column that takes up a wide range of topics, including culture, arts and social trends and developments. Written by veteran Asahi Shimbun writers, the column provides useful perspectives on and insights into contemporary Japan and its culture.