Thursday, June 08, 2006

Not Sorry To Leave Japan

There are certain things I will miss about Nejime:

The scenery at Ohama as you look over Kinko Bay.

My long runs over the mountain.

The sound of the cicadas in the summer evening.

The hot water of the onsen, Neppi-kan, in the midst of Winter.

A cold beer with the neighbours, the Torigoes.

The laughter of the most innocent children in the world at the smaller shougakkous. If I could live my childhood again, I would take Namerigawa or Noborio Shougakkou over anywhere else. To misquote George Orwell,

'If there is any hope for Japan, it lies in the children'

But I am under no illusions here. My position in Nejime is untenable, temporary, and essentially, ridiculous. I have not been 'welcomed' in any but the most superficial way. Japanese inaka society is so insular, racist and and ignorant that I could never be at home here even were it financially or legally viable.

For a while I was convinced that it was only the yakuba that was the source of evil, that outside its parasitical and unnecessary bureacracy some kind of real culture marched on, separate and somehow opposed to the absurdity of the paperwork and tatamae that the town hall generates. I thought I could catch glimpses of this in the chanting of the omikoshi priests, the shochu comraderie, the kindness of the obasans, the timelessness of the fishing boats. But I don't believe that anymore. The local people put up with and perpertuate the gomi system, the insidious neighbourhood meeting network, the absurd PTA meetings, the Orwellian public announcements and chimes. They are happy to send their kids to the soul destroying junior high school, bow to people in the town hall, lie to me constantly, bribe the mayor to join the public service, and stay off the beach in the hottest weeks of the year because 'swimming season' has officially closed.

I cannot live in such a morally bankrupt, hypocritical society and stay true to myself.

So I have no regrets in leaving Nejime. I will take on the rudeness, filth and lies of Sydney one more time.

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