I saw you on Furusato shore
Walking away as the sun set behind us
Low tide in the early evening 

We had traipsed and slid down over rolling dunes of stones
Washed up after travelling for days

You were already far ahead of me
Pale grey clouds ahead were hanging so low
You seemed to be knocking your head on them

I tried to catch up with you but the
Sand kept sinking from under me
Toes splaying to keep me steady
In the murky shallow waters

The wind grabbed my hat 
I reached behind me to catch it as it flew
When I turned back
In that time you had gone

My eyes scanned the horizon 
Only seagulls disturbed my eyeline 
Circling, calling, paddling across the seabed

When the sun disappeared 
It was time to return to the beach 
Where kitesurfers laid their sails to rest 
Between trails of seaweed shrivelled by the hachigatsu sun

I took one last glance back towards the sea 

It was low tide

You were walking away 

I saw you on Furusato shore



I was standing in your garden
Next to the rippling water fountain you built

Stones gathered from across Nakano prefecture during your walks
Balancing without cement
Relying on each other for support

When I would watch you construct it
You told me your himitsu, your secret:
To listen to where the next rock should be placed

I traced out the word “listen” in the soil
Index fingerprint and nail discoloured
You helped me wash it off in the ofuro

We would sit together on the back porch
Eating shaved ice smothered in yuzu syrup
You would tell the story of each stone you collected
Steps on your journey

I was standing in the garden
Ten years since you left

The rocks never moved, never toppled
Kept each other upright

Something had changed – kawatta
Nothing had changed – kawaranakatta

When I searched the ground
My letters had rearranged themselves

Spelling “silent”


Tamiko read Latin and French at New College, Oxford. She is a sometime wedding pianist living in South West London. She was the winner of the BBC Radio 3 carol competition 2021.