• Bath House

    The silence of the bath house. 

    Soft whispers. Water. Ripples. Drops. Deep inhales and exhales, wet feet on the ground. 

    The smell of cedar, the taste of cucumbers in spa water. Eucalyptus steam. 

    Bathing naked ladies of different shapes, sizes, and colors-- but all with the same relaxed expression. We move about and lay about in a dreamy steamy haze. Together we soak, we breathe, we relax, we release, we sigh, we sweat, we let go. We wash away all of our troubles and soak in the divine feminine that we are. Unbeknownst to some of us, we are all sharing this collective worship of us. 

    After bathing bliss I make my way through the ammenities. Bottomless lotions and potions. The dreamy haze starts to lift and I notice that as the women put on their clothes, I recognize their familiar presence less and less. We layer on the filters of fabric that garment our naked and soft bodies, we dress our personalities in patterns and colors, sealing our exibitions with buttons and zippers-- and we come back to our clothed and civilized selves. 

  • Time Traveling Through Queens

    Sarah, a young talented lesbian film photographer from New York, contacted me to shoot a few rolls together. My trip to New York was nearing it's arctic cold end and upon reading her message, feeling a kind energy from her, and seeing the beautiful raw journalistic images she captures around the city-- I immediately knew that this would be a wonderful opportunity to have her join me and document my experience exploring Mama's old apartment in Queens. She was game. 

    It was fashion week in New York and the city was bustling with models, fashionistas, cold winds, and snow. It was the coldest time I have ever spent in this city-- much less anywhere in the world. Being an island girl, I had never known what zero degrees felt like. It was bone chilling and I was having a ball. I visited with my thick New York accented friend Sasha, that I made friends with on my first trip to the city years ago. I spent the majority of my time with Tanya, a beautiful Hapa New York local, who was newly dating and in love with my dear friend Mariano. She invited me to come hang out and spend the night with her while I was out there and my overnight slumber party ended up turning into my entire trip being spent with her.

    We were becoming close friends quick and both felt that our friendship was entirely meant to be. We shared a lot of our stories and self with one another and she showed me the city through her lens. It was healing for both of us to be present for eachother at this time. I was getting away to explore my hearts desires and she was getting ready to move out of New York and come to California. We had magical nights celebrating the city and would return to her beautiful SoHo loft where we took hot baths every night to escape the cold. We listened to music, cooked Japanese breakfasts, and shared our dreams. I met her family that owned and lived in the building and felt at home. We had a lot of similarities spiritually and culturally; Japanese moms, American fathers and we were two women who were empaths as well as hopeless romantics who could talk to eachother in Japan-glish. 

     In planning this trip, one of my intentions was to visit the apartment that Mama and Asami once lived in. It was after her divorce from her first husband, that she moved there. My other sister Karina, was separated from her from her and remained with him while she had Asami. She was a single mother, estranged from her other daughter, and moved to the Big Apple. Together, Asami and Mama, lived in Queens in a quaint apartment with a siamese cat. Upon booking my trip I asked my Asami if she had any way of finding the address to their old apartment. She didn't but she mentioned that she knew it was close to her school. At this point I figured that it would still be great to walk around the general area. It was incredibly significant for me to visit a time and space from her past. It was especially significant, the synchronicities that  would lead me to get there.

    I have had several trips to New York and whenever I travelled anywhere Mama had been, I would always ask her for reccomendations. She absolutely loved New York and was always excited for me when I travelled, it was definitely something we both loved. She always produced wonderful lists for me of places to visit, things to eat, and sometimes even, people to see. Upon recalling this I searched my email inbox for our old emails that I could re-read and with wonderful synchronicity-- alas, her address to her Queens apartment. I was sitting at my computer, overwhelmed with tears of joy streaming down my face. That incredible feeling you get when you experience the intangible feeling of knowing you are being guided and spoken to by spirit-- it is surreal. 

    Fast forwarding to my last day, Sarah offered to come meet me at Tanya's loft. Together we took the Metro and she pulled one of my suitcases through the snow. She knew exactly where we were going and when we arrived in Queens, it continued to beautifully and lightly snow. We took some shots outside of the building and Sarah asked me if I wanted to go inside. The building was secured but I decided to try the door anyway. To our luck, the door didnt shut entirely so I pushed it open and there we were inside the lobby. I walked around observing the mail room, imaginging her during this time of her life. We took the elevator up and decided to go onto the roof. We got to the roof and there was a sign warning that opening the door would sound an alarm. As I debated the truth of this sign I turned around to see a window. We crawled through the window to the snow covered rooftop. We both remained silent as we wandered around and looked out across the neighborhood. Leaving the building we went to go in search of somewhere to sit and share a meal together. Sarah, a stranger to my life, listened to my story, I cried in front of her and she too, shared her story with me. She rode with me in the taxi to the airport and walked me to the security checkpoint. I gave her a hug and was so grateful for our newfound friendship. 

    It's beautiful how even after someone's death you can still carry an ever growing relationship with them. If you allow yourself to notice it, they're always somehow divinely orchestrating connected moments and leaving evidences of their presence and love for you.

    Sarah: SGlassPhoto


    Sarah: SGlassPhoto

  • Happy Earth Day

    Mother Earth is home to all of us. We aren't separate because we share the same air, water, and space. And because this is our home and the divisions are invisible and made up-- we are all responsible for one another. When a fellow human being is in turmoil, we all are. If any part of the world is having a disaster then we are all having a disaster. Yes, your own happiness is ultimately your own responsibility-- but we are also collectively here having an experience together. Our own happiness is a contribution to all. Be kind to yourself, our home, and each other. 

  • At Last

    At Last started to play and she coyly smiled and gestured me to dance with her. She reached her hand out to meet mine, our bodies pulling together as if we have done this before. As we slow danced, everyone in the room disappeared, she held my gaze with her sincere blue eyes and I felt us traveling through time and space as the music echoed. I couldn’t remember what day or year it was. For all I know, Etta could have been singing it live. We danced like lovers do and as the song neared it’s melodic end, she leaned in and whispered in my ear—"I just got lost with you."

  • Illusions

    Security is merely an illusion.
    If you think your schedule, your botox, your insurance, your marriage certificate, your 401K, and the deadbolt on your door is going to keep you safe from change and the happenings of life—think again.

    Nothing is guaranteed.

    Nothing can give you solid ground but your own trust in yourself and the purpose of existing-- That is the only solid ground upon which you can stand.

  • Together Forever

    You stand across from me, with a cigarette in your mouth. I wish you would quit smoking. You look at me the way you do, arrogantly, when you know I am watching you. You take your last few drags and without blinking an eye, carelessly flick your bad habit onto the ground between us. The fire starts to spread slowly before picking up speed, spreading fast and quick, swiftly destroying all we will have ever known.

    All of our sentimental belongings become food for this gluttonous fire; our photos from the romantic trips we took hanging on our walls curl up before dissolving into nothing but a memory. The bed we once shared, laid our heads to rest, dreamt on, fucked in, and watched endless movies from--engulfs into a sea of flames. The walls around us, containing our sacred space-- our home, collapses around us and we are enveloped in a ring of fire. We both watch powerless, as the unforgiving fire destroys everything that is precious to us. It’s too late and I cannot save you, so I stay. I hate you for having put us in this danger and I love you too much to leave you here alone. The heat and the flames are like no agonizing pain we have ever felt, it gets harder and harder to breathe, our screams fall on deaf ears, and we burn. 

     As the fire finally dies down and the smoke settles, we are left with the incinerated rubble and remain in silence as the flames gracefully fade from the remaining cinders. Your blue eyes stare back softly at me exhausted, filthy, burnt, scarred-- and yet, you are still so beautiful. I reach my hand to wipe the ashes off your cheek as your apologetic tears stream down your face. 

    No one could have survived this, but WE did. We made it. We are still here. We let the fire consume us. We don’t even know if we are still alive, we might be dead, but it doesn’t matter because we died for our love. In some other alternate reality, in some parallel universe, somewhere in the matrix of possibilities-- we survived a hellish fire and we are still together. Together forever, just like we promised.

    You grab me and hold me close against your frail body. I bury my face in your chest, I close my eyes, I breathe you in, and I cry tears of relief knowing that no matter what happens or how much it hurts—our love is immortal.

  • The Journey of a Raindrop

    Your existence, my existence, our existence; it all has a purpose. Purpose may manifest itself in infinite ways but the underlying current remains the same-- to feel, to learn, to heal, and have a human experience. 

    A metaphor of this purpose and the connecting thread that makes it all a part of the same fabric is much like the journey of a raindrop.

    As a raindrop, a manifestation of condensed water vapor, becomes heavy enough is released from the condensated cloud and falls through the sky. It dances with the wind and cleanses the air. Sometimes it becomes a snowflake. As the rain drop reaches the mountains, trees, flowers, soil, animals and beings-- it's purpose then becomes to quench, give life, and help sustain it. Some drops become part of the ocean. There are many journeys that each drop encounters and yet they all come from the same source, they always existed, they always come back in some form, and none are ever destroyed.

    And so it goes on and on, as one purpose leads to another purpose, all with a shared existence relative to one another and serving a purpose in a collective eco-system-- universe. The underlying current within all these moments and happenings are to fall, to touch, to absorb, to give, to receive, to grow, to share, and to love. That raindrop reaches each and every one of us, now what purpose will you carry on?

  • When the past finds you and gives you a present

    I was walking in the hallway when I ran into my colleague, Kim, the woman who quickly became my friend during our orientation here at the organization. All hallways lead to an intersection that often creates quite the traffic jam. You always have to dodge a human or two and do a side-step-awkward-pantomime-act. As fate would have it, Kim and I bumped into each other and both our faces lit up. She was bundled up in a jacket, hair tied back, and her bright pretty eyes shining in contrast of the green scarf wrapped around her neck.

     We did our usual quick-to-the-point-in-passing-getting-straight-to-the-nitty-gritty-2-minute-catch-up: how was your trip, family, and break up—we have mastered this quite well. As she was sharing her current news, my hands found their way into my pockets. I was wearing for the first time, Mama’s classic black high-waisted slacks that I brought back with me from my recent trip home to Hawaii. As my fingers found the bottom of my pockets while listening to Kim speak, I felt a tiny hard little object. Puzzled, I pulled this tiny object out of my pocket, glancing at it and realizing it was a tooth. Kim stopped her story after seeing my reaction and glanced at the baby tooth I was holding. “What is that?!” I knew without a question, that it was Nimai’s, my now 28 year old, younger brother’s baby tooth.  I felt a flood of Mama’s presence, our childhood, her love, memories, and nostalgia wash over me. I imagined that she put that baby tooth in her pocket some decades ago playing tooth fairy, grasping it in her fingers through that day and smiling to herself at how much she loved her children. I could feel how these little things were so precious to her and I found it to be of no coincidence that I would find myself years later wearing these pants and experiencing her joy all over again—as my own.  

  • To all the motherless daughters out there; may your heartache serve you in the best of ways. May your grief give you a better understanding of yourself, may your sentiment allow you to express and create, and may your love expand beyond what you ever thought possible.

    Kayko Tamaki

    My Mama introduced me to yoga when I was about 15 years old. Sometimes I would go to the Mo'ili'ili  studio with her and practice. The studio was an open and airy room with lots of windows and hard wood flooring with a shelf of yoga mats, blocks, and straps. It may have also been a room where ballet and martial arts classes took place at other times. The island tradewinds would blow through the jealousy windows keeping the space nice and cool. We would attend classes taught by this tiny little spunky 70-something year old woman with crazy curly hair who was incredibly flexible and always making her students laugh. She was a typical local lady, mixed with all kinds of ethnicities that you couldnt tell what she was, and she had a deep dark golden tan from the Hawaiian sun. Sometimes my little brother would come to the classes too.

    My mother was always so active and in such great shape before her health declined. She played a lot of golf, she would practice her swing at the park down the street, she went running in our neighborhood, she would lift weights at the gym, and she practiced yoga. Her and my little brother enjoyed golf together while I found an interest in her yoga practice.  I remember the first class I attended with Mama, the teacher welcomed me into the class. She explained it was an advanced class and to take my time and do my best. I would look around me at the advanced students and mimick the postures to the best of my ability. The instructor would call out names for the asanas in sanskrit and I would try to figure out what positions matched those foreign words. Everyone in the class was quite experienced, including Mama. When the time came to do bridge poses everyone found a wall space and spent some time practicing this. This particular pose came easy to me as I use to do gymnastics. My mom was impressed with my bridge pose. She said that even for experienced yogis, this was very challenging. I remember feeling those words of encouragement inspire me. It made me feel confident in myself and my abilities-- that I could actually be good at this. I didn't know at the time how much of an impact this introduction to my yoga practice would be for me.

    I found myself continuing to practice yoga more and more frequently as the years went by. By this time, much had changed. Mama was not active anymore, her health declined and as a result, all her physical and social activities came to a screeching halt. I think one of the things she missed the most was being physically active. I remember one day while driving through our neighborhood, she looked out the window and sighed a bit when we passed a person jogging. She expressed that she missed being able to do the things she use to be able to do.

    Yoga became increasingly popular and I continued to practice when I eventually left the island.  I left the island when Mama's health eventually stabilized. I left Hawaii to live and experience being on my own on "the mainland." I strongly believed that she was going to live a long life and refused to believe anything different. I left with the idea that if I stayed I was only reinforcing a belief that she wasn't going to continue to be okay. I wanted to get my life experience out of the way so that when one day in the far, far future when she needed me by her side-- I would be life experienced and well equipped to be there for her. I left Hawaii, the only home I ever knew, and moved to L.A. for several years before finally making it to The Bay Area-- a place her and I both loved. 

    My yoga practice continued to follow me. My practice became even more precious to me being away from home. It eased my feelings of being homesick, it centered me, and gave me a sense of peace while living in these big cities. It got me through a lot. The postures, the openings, the challenges, the struggles, the discomforts, the relief, and the breath--  all of it became so metaphorical to my life. As your teacher is telling you to find your breath and balance through the most uncomfortable positions, it suddenly hits you that your yoga practice is absolutely parallel to life itself. And so you clear your thoughts and you breathe through the discomfort. You know you'll get through it and then you smile a little. And by the time the class is finished and you are laying there in savasana and relishing in the endorphins your body is releasing. You find yourself feeling greater and more peaceful than before you got there.

     For every session there's always an intention set. I come in with my baggage, with my incessant thoughts chattering away, with my fears, anxieties, worries about the future that has yet to happen, and I work through it. I find my balance, I find my breath, I find my stillness, and I connect with my gratitude. Often times I will quietly weep during my flow, those heart opening asanas make it impossible to hold anything in.

      Every time that I step onto that 5' x 2' mat I connect to myself and I connect to my mother. I am reminded of her incredible love, her courage, and her strength. I am grateful to have my health because she taught me that my health is my greatest wealth and to never take it for granted. I feel her loving presence and I thank her for introducing me to this invaluable practice of self-love and connectedness.