What I misunderstood to be capitulation I now recognize as a form of spiritual confrontation, calling their spirits to task. What I misconstrued to be passive, I see now was a sign of strength beyond measure, the discipline to use your opponents aggressiveness against him, a judo of the mind. What I interpreted as an appeal for sympathy, or for pity, was actually an invocation, an appeal to that great mystical energy that flows within all of us, that unites us regardless of our superficial differences. Something we all share no matter how we worship, and even if we don’t worship at all.
I checked out this new Cat Cafe in Kannai, Yokohama today. I’ve always been a cat person, since childhood, but the idea of a bunch of them swarming around me just didn’t work for me. I imagined that it, for one, would smell like god knows what in the place, and that, once the novelty wore off, I’d be this black guy, sipping cappuccino in a room full of finicky cats and flustered Japanese.
I wasn’t in Japan long at all before I came to learn that here, particularly for non-Japanese, you are what the image of you portrays you as, nothing more, nothing less, until you’ve made personal contact. And, even then, you’re placed in the (awkward, at best, humiliating, at worst) position, with every new acquaintance made, of having to dismantle the image that proceeds you wherever you go. (Assuming you find the premise “Image is Everything” problematic – some people don’t, I’ve found, and these people tend to LOVE Japan unreservedly).
You can count on a number of things happening during holiday season in Japan, and after all these years here, none of it even budges the needle on my WTFometer anymore. Once Mariah stops screeching about what she wants for Xmas, once those Xmas illumination extravaganzas no longer draw prohibitive numbers, and once all the kampai and bonenkai […]