Silly Grins

Monday, May 27, 2013

Sandmen: Trading New Days for Old

Background ‘noise’ has a way of becoming invisible to the naked ear. 
Perhaps it’s hidden in the Muzak you don’t really know you’re listening to. 

For that middle-of-the-crossroad sound, smooth jazz works best for me.


Won't you stretch imagination for the moment and come with me
Let us hasten to a nation lying over the western sea 

Hide behind the cherry blossoms here's a sight that will please your eyes
There's a baby with a lady of Japan singing lullabies 

Although, walking over fine pale sands along forgotten miles of beach, the ‘richness’ of being allowed to be human (or at least try to be) has somehow ebbed.   


Which, at the moment, represents a delicate and distracted state not exclusive nor universal to any form of life. 

Under the rising tide in a current stream of wounded pride, fond memories are waxing nostalgic.

Like an echo of the song I hear the Japanese Sandman
Call new days near for all here's the Japanese 

Those who would have it another way seem to have forgotten ‘her’. 

Then you'll be a bit older in the dawn when you wake 



And you'll be a bit bolder with the new day you make

Not understanding, in a land of color blind ears and tone deaf eyes, I slept well beneath her naked beauty.


  1. "Wake up, my little darlings... It's almost time."

    "Time for what?"

    "What it is exactly hasn't been decided, but it is going to happen very soon."

    "Will it be good?"

    "Now, that's a silly question..."

    1. Reading that exchange, as a comment to this piece, admittedly I'm kind of nervous about what may be happening. Beate Gordon seemed almost celebratory in her relief during and interview after the ruling party had been ousted. Now she's gone (for good) and they are back. The Sandmen are still selling dreams of a past that never existed, wanting people to pay with their future up front. I was once told by an in-law that Japan was very much once like what lay north of the 38th parallel. Today, not so much so. The lines are still there.

      As for the dialogue, Wool 100%?

    2. "The Sandmen are still selling dreams of a past that never existed, wanting people to pay with their future up front."

      This is why I'm semi-retired, borrowing free time from my future full-time retirement to free up more time now while I'm young and healthy. Yeah, I may have to work part-time for the rest of my life, but it's a perfectly fine trade off for me.

      Japan may have the longest average life span in the world, but if everyone sacrifices their youth, what good is that extra time toward the end when all you can do is regret that you didn't enjoy life more when you were young enough for it to be magical?...

    3. That regretting bit seems like it's part of the retirement routine for a significant portion of the population here who have bought a lifetime's supply of sweet determinism's bitter flavored snake oil.

      The happiest 'retired' people (of all ages) I've met are the ones who are doing something productive with their time, be it through work or some kind of project(s) involving the accumulated skills of a lifetime... because they apparently choose to.

      There are also the blissed out crew who have made it a point to be on good terms with their family doctor.

  2. 8 years ago when I started my employment where I am now, jazz. Jazz was the way to know whether the internet had gone down or not, so I was told. So is everyone else who wanders into our office and asks why is streaming into the room. In all honesty there are other ways to know, but this one is something I have grown fond of.

    As for 731, Men Behind The Sun.... and my fingers can't type and there is a blank stare. Not exactly a number that the Japanese should be so proud to flaunt. -_- Parts of that movie still bother me to think about.

    1. When you say that "Jazz was the way to know whether the Internet had 'gone down'" I had to step back and try to figure out what you meant. No, what you say makes perfect sense... sometimes it just takes a while for me to put things into context that is obvious to everyone else. Jazz is definitely background music that you can hear when it stops because that soothing-good feeling gets cut off. I wonder what other palatable ways there are that people in organizations use to alert/warn/inform them when the Net goes off.

      Numbers and that blank stare - not yours, theirs, the people around me. The level of deafening pride and blinding ignorance foments a malleable mindset that I find familiar in a number of ways.

      My opinion is that this invisible 'religion' isn't good for being able to deal with issues that require a kind of social situational awareness that is sorely lacking here.

      I'm going to pull up a comment that was copied because it articulates so well observations that I tend to agree with. Here it is.


      "Patrick McPikeFeb. 21, 2012 - 07:20AM JST
      As several others have pointed out in various ways, that the author (who still seems new to Japan) and some of his supporters, still don't seem to quite get...
      The root of Japanese culture is based an "US and Them" mentality. The Japanese culture teaches that Japanese are unique and uniquely special and have a uniquely, unique culture and a country with a uniquely, unique climate with unique four uniquely, special seasons which is unique to everywhere else in the world (basically they need to get out more); and everyone NOT-Japanese is not unique and is less special.
      No matter how much you assimilate, master the language, bow at the correct angle for the particular occasion, can catch flies with chopsticks, eat natto, whatever... you can never "be Japanese" and therefore are always an outsider. Even foreigners (esp non-asian) who become Japanese citizens are still viewed as outsiders.
      I would suggest that in Japan, Shintoism and Buddhism are not the religions of the land -- they are merely ingrained rituals passed down through time. The real religion of Japan is BEING JAPANESE.
      In their mind, they cannot separate ethnicity from national citizenship, or dozens of other categories. This is also way when you critique the country, you are told you are "bashing" the Japanese.



    2. I don't have an issue with the Japanese people, ethnicity or bloodline - my two boys are half Japanese. I have many friends who are Japanese.
      What I DO have issue with the mindlessly blind aspects of the "Japanese Establishment": the bureaucracy; the cultural need to turn a blind eye to anything potentially negative about the country (you can't fix what you refuse to see); the desire to deny that their views of human rights are misguided (to put it in the nicest possible light - the UN called Japan deaf re: human rights); the refusal to even consider that having the highest suicide rate and lowest birthrate of any industrialized country might call for a rethinking of some aspect of their societal views. etc.
      Japan wants to receive the benefits of International trade and commerce. Japan wants to benefit from the skills that foreigners can bring to the table. They want to be able to leverage international treaties, while not honoring the treaties themselves. And Japan also wants to be able to treat foreigners as indefinite outsiders and, if we are very lucky, second class citizens.
      If the Japanese come to someplace like America, the UK, Australia, etc. They are treated fairly, protected equally under those countries laws, etc. But the same does not hold true for foreigners in Japan.
      Heck, the Japanese Supreme Court has even ruled that only Japanese are allowed human rights protections in Japan. Japan doesn't even have any laws to protect against racism -- Because they don't think it is wrong! They think that discrimination is perfectly okay - as long as it's discrimination BY them, not TOWARDS them.
      People who still don't realize this, are the ones in denial... or still walking around with their blinders on.
      I'm sorry, relationships are about give and take - and Japan still needs to balance the books on their end; and I don't mean in the Olympus-balancing-books way that the Japan typically tries to get away with.
      I gripe, because I love Japan and I love the Japanese people - and I don't want to see them continue down their blind path of self-destruction.
      I don't think the idea of "unique" is quite the same in Japan and other places. In Japan, is appears as part of a binary: the world is divided into two parts- Japan and notJapan. The former is better.
      For those from other places, "unique" is more akin to individual or different. Each country or culture is unique in some aspects. Unique is regarded as a postive quality for individuals- 'be yourself' and all that. At the individual level in Japan, 'unique' is not valued. It is only valued in situations where Team Japan is set against Team NonJapan.


      So there you go. From a land where 'B' movies are the thing, and one eyed men act like kings.

  3. That 'unique' mindset is something I enjoy seeing explode. I have hosted 3 Japanese exchange students (others from other parts) and their little minds were blown when they came to live with me. The first one (female) was baffled that I didn't have a husband, earned my keep and lived alone. My pet (iguana) terrified her the first day, she thought it was going to be dinner? She was equally shocked that being American did not equal anglo, blue-eyed, blonde haired woman.

    The second one I had (also female), had a difficult time for the above reasons minus the iguana. She had such a hard time she pretty much lost it an on the third day in really broken English managed to beg me to allow her to call home. Who knows what she told her family. I called up my sisters and we pretty much did what girls do for other girls that are sad, cheered her up. I have a sinking suspicion she thought I was 'being mean' by making sure she did her part around the house. She had to do her laundry and her dishes (I did the cooking). I don't think she was used to that.

    My third (a boy) seemed to open up more. Maybe he came from a more open minded Japanese family? Maybe it's a gender thing... but he kinda blew my mind because he was so different than the previous kids that came to visit. He embraced cultural exchange with his arms wide open. At that time I also was hosting a boy from Brazil, so he got the benefits of learning more than one culture.

    The first 2 tried to stress to me their different seasons and how it was unique to them... while where I live I do not get the distinctive seasons, we do have seasonal changes. I let them have that one, though I know differently. I will have to say I liked the 3rd exchange student the best because he was able to benefit from the cultural exchange I had to offer the most. I also really liked how the 1st one left almost a different person because she slowly came around and embraced the exchange. As she said her goodbyes and left it seemed she carried herself with self-confidence which was nothing like when she first arrived. Talking to her was like pulling teeth! Maybe we bonded because during her visit she 'became a woman' so we bonded. Maybe that's a story best saved for later. PHYSIOLOGY!

    1. While I can take pleasure in imagining the sight of mindsets exploding over where you are, the pressure here does things to people. Not a pretty sight. Not so beautiful seeing the results of implosions that are decades in the making.

      Developing the ability of a person to stand on their own two feet is something which is actively discouraged here. A helpless person is the sign of someone whose family has cared for them greatly, something to somehow be proud of. Well, that system is collapsing under its own weight.

      You not only care for iguanas, but also exchange students. Never an excuse for a dull moment.

      This myth of uniqueness wears thin, especially when used as a copout for not facing up to responsibilities. In some ways, it feels a little like one of Vice’s tours through the glorious land north of the 38th parallel, only not nearly as intense.

      Personally, I have a hard time trusting blonde haired and blue-eyed people simply due to some downright nasty stuff I’ve heard people spew, particularly in certain parts of California. Although I’ve never been mistaken for having been a local in the barrio, I was, at one time, told how ‘disgusting’ and irritating I sounded because I had apparently acquired a little bit of a ‘vato’ accent from living in Watsonville. It really was disappointing to see such hatred. How a person could say that while living in California blows my mind.

      So much of what goes on in harmony land effectively destroys a person’s self-esteem. Amazing what a little warmth and sunshine can do. Good job. You’ve done well.

      Thank you for the inspiration.

      And I would certainly like to hear about the ‘becoming a woman’ thing. Not like I’m planning on it anytime soon. You weren’t working at the video place during the times when you hosted the students, were you?

    2. I only worked the video place for a year.... it wasn't until a few years after that when I started hosting students. I have hosted 10 thus far, hope to host again next school year.

    3. Hosting exchange students, at this point, is not something we are prepared to do. Wifey's a little too crazy for that with the kids the age they are; they may change while I doubt she ever will. I've personally benefited from being welcomed into people's homes and I do appreciate the kindness I've been shown.

      Your kids, they've been really lucky.