Thoughts on the Train

Trip Start Sep 08, 2010
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Japan  , Tohoku,
Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Have not kept up with my notes for four or five days now so inevitably
thoughts have been lost, surpassed, superseded, chewed up by the
continuum of the present. So here is an attempt to retrieve a few of
those morsels after they have already been swallowed.

Beth and I are not made for paired-down minimalist Japanese living - its not in our nature. We have too much... stuff. And whilst we might hold delusions that we could enjoy this simple, uncluttered lifestyle with clean tatami mats and calming paper screens with diffuse light, the truth is we're far too messy, for too ill-disciplined. Just look at one of our ryokan rooms five minutes after we've arrived. A quiet, tranquil living space has been turned upside down by our presence. Our bags have been foraged through, their contents strewn across every corner. Shirts hang on the backs of chairs, pants from lampshades. Plastic bags of food have been emptied onto the table and electric cables spaghetti from wall plugs as camera batteries and mobile phones are charged.
What sort of people would do this to such a lovely space? What sort of animals are we?
Unfortunately we're only being true to ourselves.

And don't get us started on all the dicking around with slippers. I only want to go and have a pee. Why do I need to change my footwear three times?

In all our miles travelling through the Japanese countryside I have not yet seen any livestock. One or two rice fields, yes, but not a single cow.

Beth commented on the peculiarity of the natural vegetation on the hillside. Along with the standard broadleaf trees that you would find across temperate Europe are interspersed species that we would only find in garden centers; ornamental specimens for experimental horticulturalists. This mixture of the everyday and the exotic gives a certain unreality to the forests.

I was concerned over the younger generation. Whether they bought into the strict rules of the society placed upon them and most importantly whether they bought into this idea of Japan as a peaceful, non-violent nation. I feel the potential for a bubbling resentment, a need for the outlet for youthful rebellion. Is there no anger at the lot many people have drawn in life? Is there no hunger for a bit of a good old-fashioned punch-up, a bout of pointless violence?
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