It’s 5 in the morning, listening to Pink Floyd’s The Wall as I write, drinking my vitamin C from Japan’s famous machines. Wake up early, walk a lot, train a lot, learn a lot, see a lot, experience a lot. One single day suddenly turns into a week. Time is life and we have little. And after we enter that life-grinder called worker “life” we have even less.
The first sign I’m in Japan is finding the vending machines that are everywhere. The second is to find the iconic Japanese public phone. And the third, and perhaps the one that brings me most nostalgia, is to listen to the classical bell that is played in Japanese schools. Silence (even in big cities) is broken by this melancholy music. This sound is very important to me for two reasons. Previously I lived in a rural area of Japan and the silence and peace were something from another world. When I heard the bell it was time to go to my training. Karategi on the shoulder, walk a few miles along the roadside and between the plantations and hills up to the Dojo. The second is that in my adolescence a great friend introduced me to the piece of art called Neon Genesis Evangelion. This anime/masterpiece has had a great impact on my life, including my choice on psychology and philosophy, and everything I’ve seen there comes to life when I’m in Japan, everything is exactly the same.
Another thing that you soon notice is the hand of the cars. In Japan it’s like in England, the driver is on the opposite side. Even having lived here before and knowing this, it is funny sometimes to be surprised to see a child or dog “driving.” But the danger of being hit by a car here is zero, you do not have to look at both sides of the street to cross because you always use the crosswalk. Never. Every street has a well located crosswalk and, if not, it has a walkway. Sometimes you have a crosswalk and a walkway. Here you wait the light turn green. Even if there is no traffic on an empty strret and it ha a traffic light you stop and wait. And if the street has a crosswalk and has no signal, you can cross without looking because the drivers will stop. And this is not a stupid law or rule (and those who knows me knows that I hate stupid rules and challenge and expose them all), because here the conception of freedom and care is communitarian rather than individualistic. I respect the traffic lights and crosswalk for the welfare of all and not because the street belongs to the cars and who does not have a car is poor and has no right to the city. The standard thinking is – rather my “freedom” to ride with my car than the well being of all. After all, only I, who have car and money, deserve it -. This kind of stupid thinking that many have in Brazil and that the prefectures reinforce with their pro-car and anti-social politics does not fit here. My freedom is not curtailed by the freedom of others, but is elevated to the tenth power when we take care of one another. From this comes another very Japanese thing, the famous surgical mask that the Japanese wear. They wear masks when they are sick or with the slightest suspicion to avoid passing germs to others and not because they are afraid to get something from others, as the Western idea would be.
When walking the streets I come across an unusual scene and, although I have seen in videos, watching live is very funny. Several foreigners dressed as characters from the Mario Kart game walk in a row in their mini karts through the streets next to the traffic. Unfortunately I did not have time to register, but as I always do in my travels I record everything in my memory and live things to the maximum instead of losing the real experiences when trying to film or photograph what should be lived.
To be continued…