Japan tales

Posted: April 29, 2017 in Japan, Non-Fiction

Starting this week, I`ve decided to be a little more proactive with writing things down. I`ve been in Japan now for a little while, and every week I accrue a number of stories.

I often tell these stories to the people I meet in real life, but very rarely do I pass them on to those who are not within 500 meters of my house.

So, I will begin today.

I live in a big share house in a suburb of Tokyo, called Nakano. Currently I live with about 30+ people, and we all sleep in the same room, in big boxes. Sometimes I feel like I`m being shipped off somewhere like a big bundle of bananas or an exotic animal.

In Japan I probably am a kind of exotic animal.

Anyway, it`s not as bad as it sounds. You can`t see each other, you get your own box, and a kind-of futon/mattress type of thing inside it which is pretty comfy. The only lack of privacy is that you can hear each other quite clearly. This means karaoke practice after 11pm is totally out of the question.

For a little while, this noise intrusion was a slight problem for me.

On either side of my box, two people had the sniffles. No big deal right? But in Japan, they have this funny idea that blowing your nose is very rude, but sniffing repeatedly, and doing anything to avoid blowing your nose, is A-OK. So these two guys would sniff and sniff and snort all frickin night for about a week. It was getting to the point where I considered murdering one of them.

Fast forward to now, everyone is alive and happy.

My house is pretty cool. Its a cheap place to live, because of the number of people, but it has a very spacious living area/kitchen, and the best part is a the big roof you can climb up on and see the Tokyo skyline. Apparently it used to be a Yakuza headquarters, so there are chandeliers, and these great big Chinese statues everywhere, too heavy to move or lift, really big statues.

Today I decided to go climb a mountain, which is one of my favourite things to do in Japan. I went to a place called Takao, and climbed some of the local peaks.

The place is supposedly home to these bird-demon-men called Tengu. They are a form of lower demon in Buddhist mythology.

It was an enjoyable hike and the view was gorgeous. But on the way down I walked a different path, down the other side of the mountain, coming out quite far away from the train station.

I found a little temple, which had been burnt down recently, and a variety of dilapidated and abandoned buildings. Even the larger, functioning, buildings seemed sparsely populated.

That is the harsh reality of life in parts of Japan. A rapidly decreasing population and an exodus of rural Japanese to the main city hubs, main prisons, cell blocks of choking smog and straight, square cement. Moving on up into cell tower 45B, getting slotted into their own special box. At night time the little box fills with sleeping gas, then wakes em with a shock exactly 6 hours later. The life of luxury. Robot toilet seats that warm your arse and clean it too.

Anyway, I`m walking down this other side of the mountain, and by this point I`m quite accustomed to coming across these ghostly buildings, all erected in the boom of the 70`s and 80`s now falling into decay. It fills me with a strange, sad feeling.

It has something to do with the swift passage of time, something to do with the fleeting nature of all things in this life, and something to do with being alone. It isn`t a feeling that makes anybody feel good, but when it happens, you savour it. You feel as though it is necessary, despite it`s sadness.

For a moment, you become close to the essence of life; to what is real.

Thats all for me. I`m a little drunk now, so my words will soon become gibberish. If you have any burning questions about Japan, questions that burst from your heart to the forefront of your mind, ready to pierce another human mind, then feel free to send them to me.

Love. Forever and always.

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