What follows are 20 lists of some of the things I’d seen, done, heard ... loved, laughed, and cried about ... pondered, wondered and marveled about ... feared and loathed during my wrong strange trip into the heart of crepuscular gloom in Japan.
“Wow! … This is so cool.”
During the final few months before I left Japan in 2005, there was one thought that came to mind, over and over again.
As I was walking through the quiet streets of my old neighborhood in Sendai, as I was hanging out in the entertainment district Kokubun-cho, or as I was cycling through quaint villages up in the mountains and along the coast, I kept thinking ... “Wow! I’m in Japan. This is so cool.”
And that was after I had already spent 17 years there. Wow.
Tough to leave ... but time to leave
After experiencing many remarkable years in Japan, I had decided to leave. It took close to 11 months, but I somehow managed to extricate myself from the country. It was tough to leave, but it was time to leave. So I left.As the plane ascended into the sky above Tokyo and beyond the Japanese coast, the tears cascaded. I soon regained my composure, and I eventually started jotting down the many thoughts and countless memories that became these notes.
“Notes from Under the Tatami Mats”
I started compiling “Top-3” lists regarding my grand experiences in the Land of the Rising Sun. Soon, the compilation grew to dozens of entries, and many of the lists grew well beyond 3 points.
Top 3 Reasons for Staying in Japan (Note #1)
Top 3 Stages that Expats Experience after Arriving in Japan (Note #2)
Top 3 Appropriate Nicknames for Japan (Note #3)
Top 5 Ridiculous Comments by Japanese about the Outside World (Note #4)
Top 3 Ridiculous Questions by Friends Back Home (Note #5)
Top 3 Exceedingly Overused Japanese Words (Note #6)
Top 5 Myths re Things Japanese (Note #7)
Top 3 Weird Excuses for Japanese Behavior (Note #8)
Top 4 Disorienting Aspects of the Japanese Language (Note #9)
Top 3 Disorienting Aspects of Living in Japan (Note #10)
Top 3 Worst Ways to Celebrate New Year’s (Note #11)
Top 3 Fields in Which the Japanese Have Achieved Perfection (Note #12)
Top 3 Fields in Which There is Definitely Room for Improvement (Note #13)
Top 4 Persistent Illusions about the 25-Year-Long Recession (Note #14)
Top 5 Expropriated Islands that Should Be Returned to the Original Inhabitants (Note #15)
Top 4 Brilliantly Novel Uses of Concrete (Note #16)
Top 3 Ineffective Anti-Terrorism Measures (Note #17)
Top 3 Dirty Politicians and Bureaucrats (Note #18)
Top 11 Stars I’ve Been Told that I Look Like (Note #19)
Bottom 8 Stars I’ve Been Told that I Look Like (Note #20)
– Tatami mats are a typical Japanese flooring material. The mats consist of woven straw over a solid base, providing a soft but firm surface, with a very pleasant texture and a subtle earthy scent. Even today, most Japanese homes and apartments have at least one room whose floor is made of tatami mats.
– “Notes from Under the Floorboards” is a novel written by Fyodor Dostoevsky (sometimes translated as “Notes from Underground”).
– “A Song from Under the Floorboards” was written by Howard Devoto and performed by the band Magazine. – These “Notes from Under the Tatami Mats” are my meager attempt to capture some of the glory of those 2 fine works of art. Or maybe to capture some of their gloom.
Top 3 Reasons for Staying in Japan (with additional commentary)
Top 3 Stages Experienced by Expats after Arriving in Japan (with additional commentary)
... and more
Links to my Other Series …Introduction – "Intro to Vocab-ability" (right-click on title)
Guide – "Guide to Entries" (right-click on title)
Index– "Index" to all Chapters and Sections (right-click on title)
Lou Reed – "Anthology of Memorable Lyrics, Part 1" (right-click on title)
Lou Reed – "Anthology of Memorable Lyrics, Part 2" (right-click on title)
Images sourced from Google Images, unless otherwise indicated or unless my own.