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. A specific scent, sight, sound, or flavor, which evokes a beautiful memory with fondness triggers natsukashii..
Dusk in the summer is the setting for the celestial light of fireflies. The first sign of them 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.
Pictures taken of me as a child trigger many memories. 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.
What evokes natsukashii for you?