Readers in Council,
The Japan Times,
5-4, Shibaura 4-chome,
Minato-ku, Tokyo 108-0023
Autumn is my favorite season. It is transitional. It’s bittersweet. But I like the spring, too, for some of the same reasons, and Tokyo is as fine a place as any to be in the spring. On a bright yellow, mild spring day I will go down to the Imperial Palace to admire the carp in the palace moat. With Roxy Music or Simon and Garfunkel playing on my iPod, while admiring the grace of the Nijubashi Bridge and while gazing with wonder at the Sakurada Gate I will ponder once again the meaning of a life which delivered me here without a plan, almost deposited me like discarded rubbish.
Winter tires me out. It’s grey. It’s cold. It’s a long time between paychecks. And whereas autumn makes me feel alive, spring time is when I realize just how tired I have grown. I am tired of the Olympics. I am tired of hearing about Futenma Air Base. I am tired of hearing about Prime Minister Hatoyama’s cabinet approval rating. For the moment I am all paid up on my taxes and health insurance for the year, but I am tired of the struggle to meet those requirements and I do not look forward to the next round. I am tired of hearing about earthquakes and the perpetual parade of human suffering. I am tired of suicide bombings, unemployment figures, industrial slowdowns, third world elections, health care debates, lethal child abuse, anti-whaling activists, the war on terror, athletes’ legal woes and Malaysian sodomy trials.
I look forward to the cherry blossoms and the hope that my fatigue will drift away with the falling petals. Envelope my soul in a cocoon of flowers and carry me away on the afternoon breeze, then into the night, and on into the next day. Tokyo is my town, and it’s as good a place as any to be in the spring.
Published on Thursday, March 18, 2010 as “Spring may be as good as it gets.”
I felt I ought to write a positive-sounding letter, since too many of my letters sound critical, pedantic, condescending, etc. I’m happy the paper printed this one because the timing is good. The warm weather we have be experiencing the last couple of weeks put me in a dreamy mood. The winter was unusually mild this year, and spring came early. In reality I do not have an iPod. I have a pocket CD player. And, I do not listen to Roxy Music. I just thought Roxy Music’s name sounded good in the letter. In high school or university I did listen to and enjoyed Roxy Music’s cover version of“Like a Hurricane,” but I forget what album it’s on. I have not listened to any other Roxy Music music. I like Simon and Garfunkel. I listened to them a lot in high school and I have a Greatest Hits CD. When I first arrived in Japan in March 1989 one of the first things I did on my first weekend was go down to the Imperial Palace on a bright, warm spring day with Simon and Garfunkel and The Mamas and the Papas playing on cassette tapes in my Walkman.
Also, I do not attend Japanese “hanami,” or Cherry Blossom viewing parties. They are not enjoyable. Japanese think they are practically the most enjoyable thing imaginable, and they would not understand my claim that they are not enjoyable. I do not enjoy them because parks are so crowded with noisy partiers that it is impossible actually to see the blossoms. Japanese do not have a strong idea in their collective consciousness of being in the physical way of others, so the idea of congestion detracting from enjoyment is not part of their thinking. Doing things together, no matter the congestion, is practically their definition of “enjoyment.” But for me it is the opposite. Some pleasure comes from being together, but more pleasure comes from being alone.