Hello everyone:

The Berkeley public schools are in danger of losing their garden and cooking programs.
You can find some information here:
Would you please make your voice heard on this issue?
You can sign a petition here:
You can also email the school board directly:
Even a brief message will be valuable. I have attached my message below.
Thank you very much,


We ate “osechi”, special dishes for New Year’s day. “Osechi”dishes are well balanced with lots of variation in cooking.

I joined an “Osechi potluck group”. 11 people in the group.

I didn’t have to cook everything. I just cooked two kind of osechi but I could eat everything!


My sister-in-law is a nurse. She never gives up. I want you to know why nurses need to go on strike:
Hi all. We will be striking again on Xmas eve. We have a grassroots campaign going to increase the community’s awareness of what is going on in their own back yard. The outcome of our struggle will have a nationwide impact so please, if you have every needed (or know anyone who has every needed, or may sometime need ) a smart, compassionate nurse at the bedside,  consider signing this petition and send it along to others as you see appropriate. 
Thank you very much. 
I signed a petition to The California State House, The California State Senate, and 2 others which says:

“In spite of billions in profits since 2005, Sutter Health continues to try to squeeze the nursing staff which not only impacts them and their families but quality of care for thousands of Bay Area residents who are patients in Sutter Health owned and operated hospitals.”

Will you sign this petition? Click here:


if the above link does not work, please cut and paste it into your browser




Text of lecture, on August 2nd in Los Angeles, and August 3rd in San Francisco.(2012)
Next I’ll talk about Yukie chan.

A story about Yukie-chan

Let me tell you about my favorite friend Yukie-chan. I met her at the special-needs school for children.

Yukie-chan had an illness called MS. MS stands for Multiple Sclerosis. MS deteriorates their eyesight and their ability to move their arms and legs. Through physical therapy they can often regain some vision and mobility, but it’s difficult to recover fully. So I always worried for Yukie-chan, how scary it must have been when she suffered a relapse.

Yukie-chan had a habit of saying, “I am glad I have MS. MS helped me learn so many things and brought me such wonderful people. If I didn’t have MS, I might have met other wonderful people, but I feel lucky I got to meet the people who are in my life now. I was meant to meet you, Kakko-chan, so I’m glad things are the way they are. Even if I go blind, or lose the ability to move my arms and legs, or end up using a respirator to breathe, I will never regret having MS. I love myself, MS and all.”
I admired Yukie-chan for being able to say such things.

One day, Yukie-chan said to me, “Kakko-chan, I am tired.” She could hardly move any more. I knew how difficult it was for Yukie-chan, so I didn’t know how to respond.
Then, Yukie-chan spoke up. “Kakko-chan, did you think I was wanting to die? There is no way I would think that way. I can’t move at all and it’s making me tired. Please tell me a story to cheer me up!”

“OK, sure! I have many stories I want to share with you.” I said.
This is the story I shared with her, which also became a theme of the movie, “The Miracle Of The Gifted Quarter.”

I told her about a TV program which was very interesting.
It was a scientific show about human genes.
The story took place in one African village which Malaria almost wiped out the entire population. The village was barely saved from extinction because of a few who did not contract the disease. The researchers found out that people who had sickle blood cell would not be affected by Malaria.

The doctors then studied the siblings of people with sickle cells and categorized them into 3 groups. The first group was those who had sickle cell with a disability and that was one fourth of the population. The second group was people with sickle cell but without any disabilities and it was a half of the population. And the last group was the ones who had normal red blood cells with no disability and that was one fourth of the population.
When a malaria epidemic broke out, the third group of those without sickle cells died.

What these scientists said was that the half of the population with sickle cell but no disability saved the village from extinction. But those who had sickle cell with disabilities also played an important part. If those disabled people were considered unimportant, eventually there would be no one with sickle cell and this village might have been wiped out completely.
So we could even say that the people who really saved this village from extinction were the one-fourth of the population with disabilities. That’s what they said on this program.
In the show, they also said that we owe those people who struggled with illness and disabilities in the past. Because of them, we can enjoy our health and look forward to a bright future. There are people with disabilities and illness in our own society today. If they did not exist, we would not have been here either. For the sake of our future generations, we must offer them our support and recognize the important roles they play.

I shared the story with Yukie-chan. It made her very happy. She said, “I came to realize that my MS has such an important meaning. I am happy to know that.” “Kakko-chan,” she continued. “What a shame that only some of us know this story. Science proves that every person is important, whether or not some has an impairment. Then, make that common knowledge so everyone in the world knows it, please.” I said, “How could I possibly do that”. “No,” she said, “Don’t say no.” She looked so serious that I found myself saying, “All right. I promise.”

Yukie-chan died soon afterward and it became her last will and testament. I thought, “I have not power. What am I supposed to do?” Then though it is a wonder, a person adapted the story to the screen. The movie “1/4 Miracle” has been screened to audiences of 120,000 people in nearly 1,400 sites in Japan on non-profit basis. The movie has also shown in various countries of the world and was televised in the U.S. I thought that now Yukie-chan’s wish is going to come true.

Dr. Niihara of UCLA School of Medicine is an internationally-respected authority on the treatment of sickle-cell disease patients. He watched the movie and said, “If only a little, to reduce the burden of this debilitating disease is our job. Now I am glad to know that I can tell my patients that their sufferings have significant meaning.

In my opinion, we should never forget that the people with illnesses and impairments have saved our life. Our society and governments must support them or so-called vulnerable people.
Now, let’s move on to the story about “being happy from feeling of favorite”. One day, a boy named Shu-kun asked me, “Kakko-chan, are you happy from feeling of favorite?” “Yes, it makes me happy,” I answered. “Do you feel sad for disliking someone/something?” he asked again. “Yes, it makes me feel sad.” “Then, Kakko-chan, you told me that you are happy from feeling of favorite and feel sad for disliking someone/something. Please tell me why.”

I still remember that I could not find the answer to his question at that time and told him that I even didn’t know why.

Katsuku Yamamoto’s friend sent a link to this video. Please look it. The Austalian man in the video is like Toshiya Miyata, but taking a sleeping drug enables him to talk!


HOME > Text of lecture, on August 2nd in Los Angeles, and August 3rd in San Francisco.(2012)

Hello. It’s like a dream that I am standing here.
I am very appreciative of the connection and encounter which led me to come here today.

I’m really happy to share this time with you.
I am Katsuko Yamamoto, a special-needs teacher. I consider that my students are my friends. Today, I want to tell you some of their amazing stories and a story about my co-worker, who we all nicknamedMiyapu. I am planning to show a documentary film about him later,

First, Please listen to the story about Ki-chan.

A story about Ki-chan.
I met Ki-chan when I was young, just when I started my career. Ki-chan, was in eleventh grade (17years old). When she was a baby she suffered from a high fever, which left her unable to move her limbs. At the age of three she left her parent’s home to be cared for by a special facility, which was near my school.
In the school Ki-chan was a sad, lonely teenager. She almost always sat alone in the classroom, She lowered her head down, her eyes toward the floor, “I am worthless.” this was her habitual phrase. I was worried about her.

One day, to my delight, Ki-chan came dashing towards me in the teacher’s room. It was the first time I saw her smile. “What happen?” I asked. With a grin from ear to ear, she replied, “My sister is getting
married, I’m going to the wedding.” She was so excited. I was so happy for her.

But a few days later I found Ki-chan weeping, her face buried on the desk. “My mother told me not to go to the wedding. She’s ashamed of me. She only thinks about my sister. I wish I hadn’t been born.” She cried and cried. She was devastated.

But I know her mother cared about Ki-chan. Every visitor’s day, she left her house while it is dark in the morning, changing trains and buses on a journey that took 4 hours to come. No matter how hard her life was she never missed a visit.
She always told me that she would do anything to help Ki-chan. She was not the kind of person who cared only about Ki-chan’s sister. I thought perhaps the mother was worried that Ki-chan’s sister might feel embarrassed at the wedding. Or perhaps she was worried that Ki-chan herself might feel uncomfortable amid so much celebration.

There were reasons to support such ideas. In those days, which are more than 30 years ago, the situation was different compared to today. If a special-needs student painted a wonderful picture or wrote a brilliant composition their work was exhibited anonymously. Only their initials were used, or such as “Girl A, Tokyo.”
It was the time of concealment even the fact that they were born or that they existed. I really thought it strange to hide who they were. To my innocent question senior teachers told me that it was not the family’s fault but the society that was responsible for this situation.

I worried about Ki-chan and her mother. “You shouldn’t have given birth to me,” Ki-chan once told her mother. I couldn’t grasp the depth of her mother’s feeling as she was told so.
But I could do nothing to ease their sadness apart from suggesting to Ki-chan to make a wedding present for her sister.

Futamata, is a town located in the mountain area of Kanazawa in Ishikawa prefecture, It is famous for the production of traditional Japanese paper washi. I had been there and learned how to dye cloth.

I bought a roll of white cotton and dyed it crimson, the color of the evening sun. We decided to make a yukata, a type of cotton kimono for her sister. To tell the truth, at first I thought it was too difficult for Ki-chan to make a yukata. She needed help eating and writing because of her disability. I thought I could help her to make a yukata, Ki-chan could use a sewing machine and I can help her sew by hand.

But she insisted on sewing the yukata by hand and by herself. She didn’t give up sewing even after she pierced her finger with the needle and stained her practice cloth with blood all over. She kept sewing, saying that this will be a present for my sister’s wedding.

To my surprise she made good progress in her sewing. During recess and even after school, she continued sewing the yukata. I was now worried that she might become ill because she was working too hard.
Ten days before the wedding ceremony she completed the yukata.
Two days after she sent it to her sister through a home delivery service, her sister telephoned me. To my surprise she wanted not only Ki-chan but also me to attend the wedding ceremony.

I couldn’t decide what I should do because I knew her mother’s concerns. I called her mother. She said, “Please attend the wedding. Her sister really wants you too.”
So I made up my mind to attend the wedding with Ki-chan.

At the wedding Ki-chan’s sister was so beautiful and looked happy.

I was very happy to watch her but I still had fear.

I noticed attendants of the marriage stared at Ki-chan and talked in a whisper.

“Why did her family bring her here? ”

“Who will take care of her from now on?”

“If the bride has a baby, will the baby be handicapped?”

Ki-chan must have heard them and became depressed. She said she doesn’t want to eat, even though it looked so delicious.

(How is Ki-chan feeling now? Is it better not to come here? ) It was just about the time when I was thinking so, Ki-chan’s sister appear out of the door after changing her wedding dress. She was wearing the yukata, which Ki-chan sewed.

The Yukata suited Ki-chan’s sister nicely.

Ki-chan and I both were very happy. We couldn’t take our eyes off of Ki-chan’s sister.

Ki-chan’s sister and her groom stood in front of the microphone and called us to the front, and Ki-chan’s sister started talking.

“Please look at this yukata. This yukata was sewed by my sister.

When she was small she had a high fever. She lost the use of her hands and feet. Therefore she had to live apart from our family.

I sometimes thought she might have hated me for living with father and mother.

But she sewed such a wonderful yukata. When I got this yukata, my tears did not stop.

I thought how much time she spent to make this yukaka knowing she could hardly sew. I wanted my new family members to know my sister. My sister is my pride. ”

Then, there was applause from everywhere.
The inside of the wedding hall was filled with big applause.

Even now I clearly remember that Ki-chan’s face glowed with pride and happiness as she overcame her shyness.

I was moved very much. Ki-chan’s sister was such a wonderful person! And how great that Ki-chan’s heart and work had move her sister so much.

Ki-chan was born as Ki-chan and has lived as Ki-chan. And from now on Ki-chan will live as Ki-chan.

If she lived hiding from the society, how lonely and sad her life would have become?

Ki-chan’s mother thanked me after the marriage. I told her that I have done nothing. But her mother told me with tears that my daughter told me “I thank you, Mom for giving birth to me. I’m very happy.”

It seemed that Ki-chan’s mother had been blaming herself for Ki-chan’s condition.

“If I could have taken her to a large hospital even one hour earlier, Ki-chan wouldn’t have this difficulty. I have been blaming myself for her condition.” Ki-chan’s mother said.

Ki-chan became a very bright girl after the wedding. I think that this Ki-chan was her true self.

After this Ki-chan said “I want to learn Japanese dressmaking.” And she selected it as her vocation.

I think that not only Ki-chan  but all children always teach me the important fact that each and every human being is precious and important.

I have just received an email request from my friend Kakko-chan (KatsukoYamamoto):


Please read the email and tell your friends and family about her message.

Dear Friends:

There are hundreds of thousands of people world wide who suffer from “locked in” syndrome. Until now we have thought they have no chance of recovery. However, many of those in a vegetative state actually have thoughts, and we have come to recognize that there is a way they can recover.

On December 8th in Okayama, Japan there will be an event featuring the first showing in Japan of the documentary film “I will blaze a new trail”. This film is about MiyataToshiya, who collapsed with a massive brainstem hemorrhage in February 2009; it was thought that he would be permanently in a vegetative state, completely paralyzed. This event will also feature Dr. KatsukoKamiya, professor emerita at Tsukuba University who has studied these issues for a long time. Dr. Kamiya and I  will talk and have a dialogue.  

Please look this web site for information about how to recover from locked in syndrome:


 I want to start a Snow White Project full court press to deliver this information to those who need it now or in the future. By all means, everyone please use your power to send this message so that it will reach many people.


Katsko Yamamoto

My son is five years old and a kindergarden student. He needs to bring a bento (box lunch) or buy his lunch at the cafeteria. He likes to bring a bento from home.

I think that a bento is better than the cafeteria menu, because the cafeteria’s menu is unhealthy sometimes. For example, pizza or a hot dog. There are not enough vegetables. I want my son to learn how to eat healthy foods. Recently, obesity is an increasing problem in America.

In California, some public schools have an Alice Water’s Edible SchoolyardProgram.

My son really enjoys studying about vegetables and plants in the garden and cooking class in his school.

I’m glad to hear he studies something new about food and nutrition.

I make my son’s bento from Monday to Friday. I hope he enjoys eating my hand made otafuku bento.


I made vegetable “norimaki” (sushi roll).


My son’s bento.