This is the writing of the last white man in Tokyo.
Actually, that’s not true. But it sure feels like it. Last night I was in and around Shinjuku Station. Usually the station is full of foreigners, often I know some of them. Tonight however, I saw five. Five white gaijin. Unbelievable. I was aware that many foreigners had left the country after the triple whammy we’ve recently faced, earthquake-tsunami-meltdown. But tonight those reports were completely validated. My belonging to an already small minority just got further exaggerated. Cool.
Otherwise things are beginning to return to normal around here. There continues to be a steady flux of people through Tokyo. Some are leaving, others are returning. The grocery stores are slowly restocking supplies, and they’re managing to keep items on the shelves. All trains are running, albeit on a slightly infrequent and slower schedule. The many elements of daily life that I have grown to know and love are resurfacing.
It must also be said that we are not back to full normality. The reactors to the north are still questionable at best. Bottled water is difficult to come by. There is a tenseness in the air. Mixed and rash reports from the media and government leave people confused and scared; (see radioactive iodine in Tokyo tap water.)
I should briefly mention the orderliness and civility the Japanese people exhibit. Here is the best example I give; within minutes of the announcement from the government that above average levels of radiation were found in Tokyo tap water people begin to descend on the convenience and grocery stores. Naturally there were too many people for the small stores and limited cashiers. Yet instead of creating a panicked situation, these folks voluntary formed their own lines and patiently waited for their turn to enter the stores. They followed the store imposed limitation on supplies and quickly left. This would never, ever happen in the States or many other places. Astonishing!
I continue to approach the situation reasonably and rationally. Each night and every morning I read the news from a wide variety of sources. I observe the nature and pace of the locals in my city. I speak with everyone I can. I take in all of these sources and reevaluate my situation daily. So far I am confident that I am making the right decision to stay in the country. Last week several of my students asked, “Alex-teacher, when will you leave Japan?”
“I’m leaving when you decided to leave.”
The students always laughed at my answer, but I think they also took it to heart. My confidence in the country is rooted in their own. In turn they seemed to be heartened by own willingness to stay and stick it out with them. Let’s hope this trust isn’t misplaced.
-In the land of the Rising Sun, there is no sun.-
I am a man of nature. My internal clock is tuned to the sun and the seasons. Consciously and subconsciously I seek out the sun. It wakes me in the morning gives me an ardent energy all day. My behaviors and habits rise and swell with the passing seasons. I was slightly aware of this relationship back home in Lincoln. Yet in Japan it is impossible to ignore. I say it is impossible to ignore because seeing the sun directly is also impossible.