Follow the Leader

Yokohama at dusk



I spent three days of the week watching a famous Japanese movie, “My Neighbor Totoro.” It’s an animated film about two girls and a mythical forest spirit. Very cute. The movie is from “Studio Ghibli,” the Japanese version of Disney. Ghibli has made some classic Japanese cartoons. Recently I’ve gotten hooked on these films. To date I’ve now watched; “Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke & My Neighbor Totoro”. Of course I watch the movies in their original Japanese format with English subtitles. I feel watching dubbed movies, no matter the language, is a travesty. And besides, I can practice my Japanese listening skill during the movie.

On a completely random note, I’ve made a mundane observation. The dozen eggs I buy every week are in fact packaged in sets of 10. For almost a year I’ve wondered why my eggs are gone so quickly. Just by chance this week I counted the eggs and realized only 10 are included. I was amazed. Both by the fact that eggs could be sold by tens and that it’s taken me this long to notice!

And in political news, Japan has a new Prime Minister. This is the sixth minister in five years. I’ve talked with many locals and despite a person’s political leanings they’re all disgusted by such a turn over. Personally I find it unbelievable to have so many leaders so quickly. By contrast the United States is extremely consistent in their leadership. For posterity, the foreign prime minister, Naoto Kan, was forced to resign after 13 months. His poor handling of the country was exacerbated by the March 11 triple disaster (earthquake-tsunami-Fukushima.) Acting at the new prime minister is the former finance minister, Yoshihiko Noda. I can tell you firsthand, there is little hope for this guy to do anything. The Japanese people have lost faith in the ability of their leaders to govern. Maybe I should toss my hat in the ring?



Sunday I worked a half day with Sari. I only taught one class and was otherwise able to get some good office work done. The two of us ate doughnuts and enjoyed some quality time together. After work I changed into my civvies (Kiwi-talk for street clothes) and met up with Mari. We went to Yokohama and walked around the bay. The weather was nice and the city lights were a nice touch. Very romantic. To make a long story short, I talked with Mari and we made ourselves official. I’m now off the market. Sorry ladies!

(Editor’s note: The many details of my love life do indeed deserve to be recorded and shared with everyone. However this blog is published so often, and read by so many, that it is wise to skip some details. At the conclusion of my writings I will edit, revise and rewrite parts of this series. Eventually I would like to publish my journeys. The book will have more details for those of you who are curious. I encourage you to pick up a copy in the future!)

Monday I ran around Tokyo with Elisha. The day proved to be a comedy of errors. We had such grand plans for the day, but everything fell apart. Originally we had planned to hike a new mountain. But after many problems and hiccups we ended up settling for shopping and karaoke. The day wasn’t as grand as we had hoped, but we were still satisfied.


-Follow the Crowds-

This observation goes back to my blog when I highlighted the importance of contextual listening. However this is more about being visually observant. If ever I’m not sure about where I’m going, which is often, I can often find comfort in masses. Often I only have to follow all of the Japanese people around me and I’m taken to what I’m looking for. In general, this has been a great tool.

Take for example one of my visits to the beach this summer. My friends and I left the station totally unsure of how to walk the two kilometers to the beach. No worries. We looked around at the thousands of people and found hundreds of people wearing beachwear. They were walking away from the station and down a normal-looking street. Following the crowd we jumped in line and marched down the street. We made turns, crossed bridges and zig-zagged through the neighborhood wherever they did. Sure enough, 20 minutes later we were at the beach.

Whenever I’m in doubt about navigation I can follow those around me. Mostly this has been very successful and I’ve had great luck. I’m sure such fortune is aided by the size of Tokyo. No matter the time of day there is a crowd I can follow. Yep I’m becoming Japanese. Keeping my head and staying in line, and I’m finding success.


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About japanesealex

Alexander lived in Japan from 2010 to 2013. He is now pursuing a career in public service in Honolulu, Hawaii.

One response to “Follow the Leader”

  1. Claudia Wheeler says :

    Bring on the book!

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