Just now, about to end my third project in that country – albeit a short one – I’m inclined to share some of my thoughts of a place I’ve grown rather fond of.
I like Japan. I like the food, the folks, the scenery. I enjoy the porcelain beauty of so many young Japanese women and I enjoy the strong undercurrent of politeness and consideration that pervades the culture.
I’ve had some memorable adventures in Japan. It’s a place where you can walk down a dark side street on a Friday night with little or no worries, a few neighborhoods in Tokyo excepted. Some of my best adventures in Japan have started in just this way; some aimless wanderings in a new town that led to a great little local watering hole or restaurant. One of these, some years back, was Koharu – “Spring Nights” in English. Koharu is a little bar in Kusatsu, Shiga Prefecture, that in 2009 was run by three ladies (I’m guessing) in their early to mid 60s. My friend Paul and I hung out there a lot, and the Mama-sans loved us.
On this trip Paul and I wandered up a little side street in a Tokyo suburb called Fusse and discovered a little local ramen shop, where I enjoyed some of the best ramen I’ve ever laid jaws on.
With all that said, though; I could never live in Japan. I’m too deeply and irretrievable American, a red-state American at that, to willfully put up with a lot of things Japanese folks take for granted. Now the Japanese people have the right to choose the government that suits them; they have done so, and I would be the last to say they should change that to suit the whims of Americans, just as I would be the last to say Americans should change our way of life to suit anyone from another country. But the Japanese culture and still rather unquestioning acceptance of authority has led to some policies that I could not and would not abide. Among them:
- No protection against unreasonable search and seizure. I am told the police can legally enter any Japanese home once per year with no cause, no warning, no nothing, just to have a look around; no warrant needed. In my own Colorado, even were it a police officer trying to force his way into my home, had he no warrant I would have the legal right to part his hair with a shotgun. Which brings us to:
- Refusal of the right of armed self-defense. This is not and has not been an issue in Japan, not the least of reasons is their crime rate, which in most places is so low as to be nearly non-existent. But Japan is a culturally and racially homogenous society, and what’s more a culture that places great value on conformity, on respect for authority, on blending in. The United States is very different. America was born in armed rebellion, the exact opposite of respect for authority; Americans today are fractious, rebellious and quarrelsome. As evidence witness our recently concluded Presidential campaign and its aftermath. Americans, by and large, favor our right to armed defense, a right defined in the Constitution by men who had just led a citizen’s army to defeat the world’s dominant superpower of the day.
But live in Japan? No. I’ll take Colorado and, in a few more years, Alaska.