Sunday, August 26
Half day in the office.
After work I returned to the Sagamiono Summer Festival (もんじぇ祭り) with Mari. Where it had all began.
One year earlier our mutual friend, Masaru, planned a group outing to the festival. He said it was to “see the fireworks.” But really it was to make some fireworks. Masaru had planned the outing at my request. A month before I had been introduced to his friend. A beautiful girl named Mari. I asked to meet her and he set it up.
Although it was raining on that day Mari and I instantly clicked. We were like puzzle pieces that fit perfectly. We hit it off. A week later I asked her out to dinner. The rest, as they so often say, is history.
That was 2011. One year later and I was dating that beautiful girl from the rain. We returned to the festival to sunny weather and green grass. This time it was just the two of us. We spread a blanket on the ground and enjoyed the festival. Nostalgia and romance were in the air.
I wonder what will be different, or the same, in another year.
Monday, August 27
I met Trevor and we caught a train. Minami Machida (南町だ). Grandberry Mall. “Dark Knight Rises.”
We grabbed a fast burger. Shoved soda and candy in our packs and skipped like boys to the theater. The excitement burst out of us like seven-year olds. Lights down, curtain up. Showtime.
The movie finished and we walked back to the station discussing the details. I enjoyed the movie, but was found wanting. The villain was no comparison to the late Heath Ledger.
We moved to Angie and caught up with Trevor’s coworkers; Brian and Sugar. Brian and Trevor drank like it was going out of fashion. Sugar and myself were much more modest. It was a school night after all. A beer later and with Batman still on my mind I made a move home. Early to bed, early to Rise.
Saturday, September 1
I finished work at eight and I was out the door moments later. I met up with Mari and we went to Ebina for our first movie date. The film: “Prometheus.” I had been jonesing to see the movie all year. We packed our bags with candy and soda and even ice cream from Baskin-Robbins (サーティワンアイスクリーム). We felt naughty.
The movie was amazing. Top marks and definitely my favorite of the two. There were several gruesome scenes and a few moments that made the audience jump. A perfect movie to see with your girlfriend. She latched on to my arm and buried her head into my shoulder. I gazed at the screen like an idiot. I had a beautiful woman on my arm. Bliss.
Sunday, September 2
I woke up at 6:30 to catch the second half of the game. The Huskers looked in fine form and it was great to see some Americana again!
After the game Mari and I visited a quaint cafe across the street from my apartment. We ate a Japanese-esque breakfast. Hot coffee followed and we studied the other’s language from our textbooks. The rest of the day was spent at bookstores, coffee shops and cooking. Mari was kind enough to cook us ramen (ラーメン）for lunch and a veggie stew for dinner. What a great girl!
Monday, September 3
Monday I found myself deep in central Tokyo (東京). I can’t tell you why yet, but hopefully I’ll have details to share soon. In the afternoon I saw Lauren and her boyfriend for a quick coffee and some catching up.
In the evening I met up Trevor in Shimokita-Zawa (下北沢). We enjoyed smoking hookah with some of his friends. It had been nearly two years since my last puff. I intended to never smoke a cigarette again. But I’ll make an exception to share some sheesha with friends every once in a blue moon. It was great to sit outside in the warm evening air with a cold beer and warm pipe.
I consider myself well read when it comes to current events. I read multiple new sources every day from the United States, Japan and often other countries. Occasionally I’ll watch the evening news on television (NHK), it’s broadcast with an English dub. After reading & watching so much Japanese news I’ve come to notice a trend. The media’s focus on current events is extremely insular.
A typical news broadcast in Japan is 60 minutes long. The international news, non-Japanese related, is always at the top of the hour and covers about 3 minutes. The following segment is Japanese-related international news. As Japan is occupying a decreasing role in world affairs this segment is decreasing in time. The rest of the broadcast focus solely on domestic news. Politics, weather, sports & entertainment.
Because Japan is such a small country it doesn’t take long to recap the important stories of the day. So the news team often offers filler reports. On an especially slow day the stories become ridiculous. Interviews are conducted from tiny towns about local parades. Redundant interviews of locals saying the same thing about their baseball team. Comparisons of autumnal foliage region by region. It’s tedious.
I used to watch or read the news and ask myself, “why?”
It’s because the country is so insular. The Japanese public is focused on themselves. It’s as if they wear blinders at all times. A drawn out segment about honeybees in Kyushu (九州) is more important than a failing Greek economy. A cat stuck in Mrs. Suzuki’s tree is more captivating than a civil war in Syria. Don’t even bother watching Japanese news to learn about positive developments in Korea in China. They’re not going to cover it.
Most countries are at least partially nationalistic. Most countries want to focus on their own stories. It’s relatable. I understand. Americans love themselves in the way that only a mother can love her child. So Japan is not alone in this fault. However America does spend more than three minutes of world affairs. And America has enough national news to fill 60 minutes. Japan, apparently, does not. And it’s a shame that the media cheats their people out of knowing the bigger picture. Of knowing where Japan actually fits in the world. Instead we are presented with this view: Japan is the world.