Oh, Pooh

Written by on September 6, 2006 in Photo Blog with 0 Comments

Oh, Pooh

I took this in California, but you could take the same shot in Tokyo…

When we boarded the plane a week ago, I felt like I was coming home. Our extended stay in the USA was great. We thoroughly enjoyed time with my parents in New Mexico and catching up with friends in California. But as the time stretched out, it felt like we were living on the road — and you can only take that so far.

I love the USA, and we had quite a network of close friends there. When we moved to Japan the adjustment was harder than I’d expected, and I experienced quite a bit of culture shock (something I hardly felt during short stays in Mexico and Africa). But while in the USA, I never quite felt at ease with American culture. I guess I’ve adjusted to Japan now, and we have friends here (budding relationships in Hachioji and others we’ve know for awhile). I was eager to get back so those relationships could keep growing.

It’s hard to say in words what made me feel uncomfortable in the USA, and what I write may sound strange to someone who has never lived abroad. The USA is a country of incredible wealth. Life in Japan seems almost poor by comparison. This place has much akin with the third world despite appearances. Of course, the Japanese are incredible consumers. They may spend more on a meal (or a toilet seat) than most Americans ever would. Yet the Japanese live with less overall: less space, less time, less freedom, less variety…

Personally, I love space, time, freedom, and variety. But in the USA I felt like all around me people were living sloppily — growing fat, stressing themselves out, and consuming vast amounts of medication to try and compensate.

Japan has problems. Don’t get me wrong. Big, frustrating problems that I could write about at length. But I’ve come to appreciate something about the simplicity and “harmony” (even if it’s only external) that characterize the culture…and I’m at becoming peace with being an American here (learning to blend in and be disruptive appropriately).

I’ll have to cut this short (Hitomi is telling me to come eat), but I’ll try and come back to these things as they continually come to mind.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *