Wednesday, September 12, 2012

A Series of Inconsequential Anecdotes: Pt. 1

This segment is basically just an excuse for me to commemorate some very minor events/milieu that I encountered whilst residing in Japan. The entries will be brief and void of context. I will not attempt to mine them for constrained literary or sociological significance. It’s just that if I don’t write them down ASAP, I’ll forget them entirely. Because, again, they don’t matter at all.

Pt. 1: The Ocean is Closed in June

June, 2011: I drove to Kanazawa City for a long-weekend of beach-bumming + seafood gorging with a British boy and a girl from Baton Rouge. The boy’s name was Ben and the girl’s pseudonym is Kate. They were my two best friends in Japan. We’d vamoosed on a whim because Ben was moving back to England soon and the three of us had a good rapport so what the hell, why not. It was finally summer. I’d bought a cowboy hat. Ben had Technicolor swimming trunks. We wanted to go to the beach.

All I remember from the seven hr drive is that certain stretches of the highway were thick with the stench of some bizarre botanical explosion. I say bizarre because this particular olfactory experience wasn’t at all like springtime or bouquets or other aromatic stuff you’d normally associate with the blossoming of blossoms. It was a seminal odor, in the human male ejaculation sense of the word. Driving through these sporoid clouds was like periodically plowing your way through a dumpster of wadded up teenage-boy tissues. Syrupy and sneeze-inducing. We giggled and gagged and dubbed the mysterious organism to blame: The Semen Tree.1


Kanazawa is the capital city of Ishikawa Prefecture, a peninsular district that borders a tract of northwestern Nagano. The city itself is a small municipality, population just under 500,000. Located right on the Sea of Japan, Kanazawa is famous for jumbo shrimp and beaches that you can drive on and probably some other more remarkable historical/cultural stuff that none of us bothered to research. We booked a room at a homestay-type place run by a congenial, pony-tailed Japanese man who’d once lived in Tibet and tended to pack his English sentences with esoteric, spiritual locutions. There were two other guests at the residence; a portly, generally abhorrent Australian woman who’d given herself a Japanese first-name and spent afternoons ignorantly strumming whatever traditional Japanese musical instrument she could get her hands on, and a timid Swedish boy who suffered a serious native-land inferiority complex.

That’s That Shit I Don’t Like

In the name of Integrity, I have a confession. I’ve returned to America for the foreseeable short-term future. I no longer live in Toyooka Japan or teach at Toyooka Junior High School. But this blog is not finished. Not yet. Whatever posts follow this one will be retroactive reflections on living in/leaving Japan. Once I’m done, the blog is done.

If you’re wondering what it’s been like for me to come back to USA after two years in Japan, I’ve got lots of sentiment but zero sagacity to offer. I guess America has changed and I guess I’ve evolved. But I’m also pretty sure that any and all personal/national transformations are ultimately meaningless.

I miss Japan. I’ve missed my friends and family. Mitt Romney is depressing.