SSince 2021, Kumi Taguchi has been the host of Insight, the mainstay of SBS taking a closer look at current affairs. This year, the program has delved into everything from catfishing to conspiracy theories and the ramifications of unexpected deathbed confessions. Next Tuesday at 8:30 p.m., the show will look at what it’s like to meet your birth family later in life. Guests include Australians who have found half-siblings as adults as well as those connecting with their birth parents for the first time.
For Taguchi, this episode is particularly resonant. “I didn’t go through the experience of not knowing my parents, but it did affect me in the sense that I didn’t really grow up with my dad,” she says. “I didn’t reconnect with him until I was 20.
“We have a guest in our studio who has always felt a bit different from his siblings and didn’t really feel like he belonged. And I kind of felt like that in my family – my mom and my sister were a lot alike and I always felt different in terms of interests in journalism and sports.
“Then when I reconnected with my Japanese dad, we started talking about football, politics, the game and the ethics of X, Y, Z in his broken English. And for the first time in my life , I remember feeling this amazing feeling of, oh, I can see where I’m coming from and where these parts of me are coming from. It made me realize how strong this genetic coding is.
Decades later, Taguchi considers a family heirloom his most prized possession. Here, the longtime journalist tells us why she rushed to save a very sentimental little rock from a fire, as well as the story of two other important personal effects.
What I would save from my house in a fire
I would save a little stone. It’s short, smooth, and has two small googly eyes glued to it. It’s one of the few things I have from my father. I remember that I was little and that I looked at the rock placed on the shelves among the magazines and the dictionaries. Later, it migrated to a spot under the handbrake of dad’s car, carefully taped with Blu-Tack. He stayed there until his father died, at age 84.
I was in Kyoto when I discovered it. My sister called me and told me that because of the way dad had died, most of his belongings had to be destroyed. The first thing I thought of was rock. Through tears, I asked him if he had survived. I still find it strange that at that point I became a little girl again, longing for something from my childhood.
My most useful item
My God, it’s hard. From a purely pragmatic point of view, my phone is my most useful object. My rice cooker is useful because I can’t cook rice any other way – but I don’t use it much. So I’m going to choose my coffee grinder.
It looks like a pepper mill and I bought it during the 2021 lockdown. I felt the need to go analog as much as possible. I think it was an instinctive thing – knowing that I needed to be still, create rituals, and feel a sense of connection to tangible things.
Using it is a joy. It’s heavy and feels great in my hands. I love filling it with beans, clicking the gears to adjust the grind setting, and winding the lever. The sound is meditative, the smell and taste wonderful – but it’s the process that’s the real gift. I even like to clean it. I undo all the parts and use a small brush to dust off the spring and washer and conical grinder and gears.
The object I most regret having lost
Piglet. It was my first stuffed animal. I was born three months early and Piglet sat on my humidity bed. He was in navy blue corduroy and had two flowers embroidered in wool on his belly, one yellow and one red. He had red silk inside his ears.
It came with me through several moves in my 20s and 30s. To be honest, it was more just to keep him, not because I really liked him. Or so I thought. During a move, who knows where and when, he disappeared. My other (favorite) toy did, but Piglet didn’t. I don’t know what happened to him and every once in a while I still have a deep twinge in my chest remembering that he is out there somewhere, wondering where I am. It really hurts my heart that I didn’t take care of him well enough.