By Marina Murayama Nir

A few summers ago, after I graduated from college, my twin sister, my grandma, and I went on a trip to Yosemite National Park. Visiting Yosemite had been a dream of my obaachan’s for a while, and my sister and I had not seen my grandma for nearly ten years, because she lives in Okinawa. To say the least, it was a reunion of lifetime!

One particular moment that stuck out to me was our first sight of Half Dome. We got out of the car, and my grandma was totally consumed by feelings of awe and wonderment.

Half Dome is magnificent – it’s breathtaking – otherworldly. After soaking it in for a minute, Obaachan turned to me and said, in English, “Some places, small gods. Here – Big God!”

How sacred and surreal… I was overwhelmed, and I felt connected to what she was experiencing and felt connected to her… but I was caught off-guard because of the words she used to express how she felt. It’s like a moment in recognizing a deep familiarity and a slight break at the same time.

The Earth is amazing, and I am grateful to have had the chance to see the place of the Big God with my grandma and my sister. As we are growing older, I feel that my sisters and I are growing closer to where we came from, and that fills me with joy.

Audio of my grandma witnessing half dome:


Marina Murayama Nir is an editor at Culturework.