Saturday, June 23, 2012

the thought of my name

My art name, dosankodebbie, seems to confuse a lot of people. I am thrilled when my name and my work are introduced on other sites, but the dosanko and the debbie are often separated, or capitalized, or reversed in order. People sometimes address me as "Dosanko" as though it were my first name, or Ms.Dosanko as though it were my last name. Neither is the case. My legal name-- the name I use as a translator-- is Deborah Davidson (boooring). So, naturally, you are wondering why I chose dosankodebbie as my art name.

Dosanko, as most Japanese people can tell you, is a word that means "native to Hokkaido." Hokkaido is the northern frontier of Japan, the beautiful (but cold) northernmost island/prefecture of the Japanese archipelago. Japan has been my home since birth, and the greater part of my life has been lived in Hokkaido.

As a non-Japanese living in Japan, I am usually treated with the kind of courtesy one would show a guest. There is an underlying assumption in almost every conversation I have ever had, with all but a handful of people, that I have a "home" in another country, and that I will eventually return there. Which I don't, and I won't.  My art name is my way of claiming this as home; claiming a right to claim that I belong here in Hokkaido.

Well, that's one mystery solved, right? The words on the etegami are a quote from the poem The Naming of Cats from the book Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats by T.S.Eliot.

16 comments:

  1. Oh, Debbie,
    Thank you. I've been awaiting when you'll share your really, really cry with us, readers. Please keep this precious name.
    Love,smile,cheers Sadami

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  2. :-) If you are FROM this beautiful place why oh WHY would you ever even think about going anywhere else!! I agree!!
    and I love this TS Eliot cat...my 2 are sitting behind me now, contemplating whether dinner was enough...

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    1. Ever a pleasure dropping by your blog and learning a little about you and getting from you, a personal and beautiful glimpse of Japanese culture.

      By the way, I really your translation of Japanese poems and proverbs. Is there a book about these with your artwork in the pipeline?

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  3. What a great explanation of your name and adorable etegami!

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  4. It must feel difficult at time to claim something we are entitled to...
    I love the thought of the day!

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  5. Debbie, I was delighted to finally know the origin of your interesting name. Wonderful! Like here, someone will say, "I'm an Oshkosh girl; I'm a California girl.... etc. Not as graceful or as good an identifier as your form. (BTW I AM or WAS an "Oshkosh girl." No longer a girl, nor in Oshkosh, but it was my growing up place.

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  6. I love coming here and reading such rich information. I also like your chices of quotations. It inspires me to read. Always, I love your etegami I hope you have a lovely week.

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  7. Thank you for this post. I wondered if you would be treated as an outsider. Guest is better than that, but your art name is even better.

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    1. Sometimes being treated as a guest (traveler) is not so great. I've had doctors refuse to treat my complicated health problems, saying "Go back to your home country and have it treated there." Even though I'm a permanent resident here, have no other home, and certainly have no health insurance anywhere other than Japan.

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  8. So interesting to read about your name. I love the Eliot quote and I LOVE your blue cat!

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  9. That is so interesting. And I've been seeing your name at illustrationfriday for a long time. Now I know the rest of the story.

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  10. 道産子デビーさんへ

    健康保険の件、面白く読ませていただきました。
    大笑いですよね。ここが私の住んでいるとこで、保険もあるんですよーって、いってるデビーさんの顔が浮かびます。もう、欧米系患者診察恐怖症があるんじゃないでしょうか。いくら、流暢に、日本語をしゃべれても、もう顔だけで、恐がられてませんか?言語の問題が一番先に出てくるのではないでしょうか。自分の母国語と違うところに住むとき、いろんな面白いこともおこりますが、病院に関しては、ほんとに、大変ですね。ここでは、事故の後の、車の保険の件とかもほんとにほんとに大変です。

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  11. That is such an interesting story. I love to read your stories about the history and origin of words and traditions in Japan.

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  12. Thank you for the wonderful post, Mrs. Davidson! It made me smile wholeheartedly at 12:15 AM.

    And sorry for calling you "Mrs. Dosanko" in the past! I thought it was your marriage last name!

    Best thoughts and wishes from Bucharest, Romania!

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    1. No need for an apology, Tiberiu. It's a confusing name, I know. :)

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  13. So there! I love this post!

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