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The 21st Century

Hacktreks Travel

Hacktreks 2

First Chapters
Lifestyles 1
Lifestyles 2

The International Writers Magazine
...a definite case of culture shock


...just arrived in finland
via japan
sophisticated japan
corrupted by a crass US pop culture overlay
a prada and LV obsession
and a cuteness affectation
hello kitty fluffy toys
snoopy department stores
minnie mouse MMS pictures
pork based ramen soup (i hate pork)
sashimi (i hate raw fish)
sushi (I hate shellfish)
ten stylish elegant porcelein plates of food
full of nothing i wanted to eat

ate a lot of cornflakes
trains crowded with commuters and advertising
streets crowded with tall buildings and neon signs
escalators parks roads crowded crowded crowded
stand on a train
understand sony businessplan
not much to do
standing on a train
one hour each way each day
crushed against 10 million other people
struggling not to commit japanese mortal sin impolitely intruding on
personal space
newspapers too big
books too big
conversation intrusive
walkman makes sense
gameboy makes sense
sms makes sense
stand on a train
streams of people wearing fashions
cannot cannot cannot understand
mou mou skirts over trousers with white knitted jumpers with pom poms
women dressed as schoolgirls
schoolgirls with their socks stiffly stretched up to their knees
they don't fall down, they don't fall down
because they are stuck on
the schoolgirls stick their socks on their calves with glue
stand on a train
watch women putting on make-up with one hand
dexterity in twirling the lipstick stick up with one hand
handmade pottery
cameras, walkmans, minidisc players, moiles
peaceful buddhist temples
screaming neon signs
polite japanese
polite japanese crushing against you on the train shoving to get out at
their stop
gentle traditional geishas with minnie mouse charms on their mobile phones

walk around tokyo musuem
elaborate calligraphy, detailed kimonos, handmade pottery, tea ceremonies
labour intensive
time intensive
is this the country of just in time manufacturing
walk around tokyo musuem
pottery calligraphy kimonos and silkscreens
largely unchanged for centuries
but not
trapped in time
perhaps ahead of time
1300 silkscreen a few brushstrokes evoking landscape mountains movement
1300 europe giotto cimabue
just started painting real, painting emotion
renaissance just starting
van gogh starry night, turner waves, monet shadows
impressionism, abstract
still many many many years generations in the future
but 1300 japan silkscreen suggest evoke
did commodore perry's USA gunboat diplomacy
drag japan into the modern world?
did commodore perry help develop japan
or did he stifle it
everything in japan appears
houses, restaurants, servings
its not
its an elegant sufficiency
the west gorges on more
drunk on bigger larger
its polite
to take
only whats needed
and the japanese
and everything is sized
just so
no street names
signs in characters
numbers in characters
no translations
limited english we have
despite our better judgment
allowed you to visit our country
you should be damn happy that we let you in
privileged that we are letting you spend your money here
don't expect us to make you
don't expect us to make it
if the world stopped coming
if we closed our borders
we wouldn't care
we might not even notice
a refreshing change from obsequious countries
obsessed with the tourism dollar
a dignified change from insecure countries
obsessed with other
spoke to a brazilian finishing his phd after 8 years
and a south african phd student been here 2 years
japanese marvins
the first 6 months were the worst
the next 6 months were pretty bad
the following year was pretty awful
started to understand some basic language the next year
brazilian said
western relationships often break down after a few months
western challenges japanese to develop intimacy and reach into soul
japanese takes it as a sign of disrespect to ask importunate questions
brazilian said
yes means no
or maybe
or yes
read between the lines
then read between those lines
don't look anyone in the eye
don't ask
brazilian said
takes a long long long long long time
to unravel understand unpack
subtlety and the nuances
the hotel gives you lots of little packages in the bathroom
there is a little package
if you unwrap that there is a package of three
if you unwrap that there is a package of one
if you unwrap that
its a cotton bud
at the end of the day
its only a cotton bud
you can dress it up all you like
but its only a cotton bud
and i thought
you can dress it up
subtlety nuance history culture
but at the end of the day
its just a country
they are just people
and they aint that special
it takes a couple of years to understand this culture
and frankly
very happy to get on plane and come to finland
so near to russia, so far from japan
monty python knew something
© Catanzariti June 2004

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