Natsukashii (懐かしい), Happy Memories


Being reminded of happy memories brings back the euphoric feelings tied to those experiences. In Japan, a memory of the good times evokes natsukashii.


 What is natsukashii?  It is a Japanese word for which there is no English equivalent; nostalgia comes close, but it expresses a sad longing to return to a time when things were good.  Natsukashii is gratitude and happiness for the past. It is triggered by a specific scent, sight, sound, or flavor which  evokes a  beautiful memory with fondness. 


The dusk of a summer night is the setting for the celestial light of fireflies. The first sign of them each summer evokes natusukashii for me. I get a vivid memory of summer evenings running around in the backyard with my brother and cousins trying to catch these “magical” insects. We would hold them in our tiny cupped hands, waiting for them to glow before releasing them into the air.  


The same thing happens when I hear the music from an ice cream truck, natsukashii. I am reminded of running home to the backyard of my two-story apartment building in Queens, NY and yelling up for my mom to throw money out the window so I could purchase a delicious cold treat. These memories bring a smile to my face.


So many memories are triggered by pictures taken of me as a child. Photos of family vacations horseback riding in upstate NY, beach BBQs with my Dad on Long Island, my ballet recitals, and birthday parties. I can still describe the invigorating feeling of riding a horse through the rocky trails, or the blended smell of BBQ with the salty ocean air.


Looking at my travel pictures over the years takes me right back to those moments. A photo will remind me of the vibrant colors of Morocco, the awe I felt watching Flamenco dancers in Edinburgh, or the smell of bread baking at the bakery in Paris.


These are just a few experiences that evoke natsukashii. I remember and then tuck the memory away. The past is made up of many happy memories.


What evokes natsukashii for you?

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