The messages started being written in the Book of Hope only 9 days after the TV screen confirmed my worst suspicions. I rarely get up before 7 a.m. and during the Canadian Winters in Nelson it is pitch black until about 9 a.m. Why on this morning did it feel like there was a presence in my house? I crept out of bed. I walked into the kitchen and just stood there in the dark. It was supremely quiet. Not only that there was a deep sense of peace pervading the room. Had an angel visited?
It turned out to be the angel of death for Japan. I walked upstairs and switched on the computer, still wandering why I was up at this ungodly hour. The first email began in Japanese, ” I was so scared-it lasted so long..” This was from a friend in Yokohama. Then I realized what was going on and switched the website to BBC news. The rest is, well history.
My Japanese wife watched the news after breakfast-in those days we had TV. Scenes that every reader of this needs no description for unfolded. I felt detached. I had been there only two weeks before. I had sensed it coming with an absolute certitude. I even recorded that sentiment on video on February 29th as I walked down Omote Sando avenue in Tokyo.
“How many of these people can feel the wave of transformation coming in?”
“Oh well, it has happened. It was just a matter of time. Maybe this is exactly what Japan needs to get with the program.”
That crispy attitude of disdain for a culture I am married to was not without love. I had seen Japan descend into the very reason that Japan’s last great writer committed hara kiri. Yukio Mishima may have been a bit of a nutter at the end but his heart was in the right place. He saw the banks take over a culture like an alien virus pollutes an entire organism, slowly but surely. He exhorted his fellow countrymen to return to the way of the samurai two centuries far too late. But my wife and all her school cried when he decorated the floor of the ministry of defense with his entrails. Somehow they knew that Japan was never going to be the same.
Thanks to Georges Armani and Luis Vuitton and all their crooked capitalist cronies Japan was now firmly a nation of brand bullshitters. As if brandishing the brand name made you more real, more acceptable as an individual. Such patent horseshit had infected every sector of the culture. Now I saw it as almost useless. McDonald’s inflated obesity now walked the streets of Tokyo coupled to Hollywood attitudes to life. Cool!
I had warned the Japanese in my own highly illogical and anachronistic way that if they let their culture slip much further then I would have more right to call myself Japanese than they. “Just being born on a Pacific island don’t make you Japanese folks..It is a certain spirit does and you know that…”
Fast forward a few days and I am decidedly troubled. These are friends. Family. Sponsors and supporters and acquaintances and yes, a few enemies I suppose. The yakuza might not be too happy with me after that affair..
And so I announced to the family, at a time I could least afford it, that I was going back to ‘help’.
That meant I was going to bring them hope. But as I discovered hope is for the Pope..and I mean that with no disrespect. Hope requires some sort of living faith, whatever the religion. Hollywood had ripped that out of the culture too. Hope was for dopes..