I’ve come to realize over the years that Japan is NOT the paradox I once thought it was.
While living there, and for years upon years after having left the country to move back to Toronto, I had thought that Japan was both the loneliest and non-loneliest country ever.
Several things have come to light within the dark thoughts that routinely form within my head.
1) I have been to quite a few countries… but hardly close to even five percent of the countries currently in existence. So how the fug can I have such a global opinion about Japan’s place in it? I can not. I can only know what I know and can not guess as to how it relates to the rest of the planet.
2) I’ve been lonely and non-lonely pretty much every where I’ve visited or lived. Japan is hardly the cause of that.
3) Am I really lonely if I choose to be alone? No. Yes. That’s a truly philosophical question… and I didn’t waste my university degree on that subject. I wasted my university degree on political science. One can obviously be philosophical with a piece of paper telling you are. And how does that make you feel? Why?
Considering how I am now… an introvert pretending to be an extrovert (Hardly a revolutionary self-discovery, I’ve been saying that since I was in journalism school (after university, and not a waste of time… though I wouldn’t recommend anyone to go into the written media field if you expect to eat regularly in the future).
In Japan, I didn’t have to feel lonely ever.
As a junior high school assistant English teacher on the JET (Japan Exchange & Teaching) Programme, I was given a list of all the other gets living in my prefecture of Tochigi-ken.
I could, should I choose, simply call up any of them and chat… and they could do the same to me.
Yes, this was in the pre-Internet days of 1990-1993, so hearing a person’s voice was almost as good as reaching out to touch someone. Talking to Kristine, it was more like touching myself.
Years later, it was still nice to hear she would have slept with me if I wasn’t sick that one time she traveled 500 kilometers… not to see me really, but to use my place as a home base for touring Eastern Japan.
Anyhow… lonely… how could old Andrew ever be lonely when he spent five years describing his daily life of three years in Japan?
Exactly. He couldn’t have been lonely.
I may have said I was lonely, but that was how I felt.
If I wanted to not feel lonely, I could call up Matthew, or Colin or James or Trisha or Kristine or whomever.
For most of 1992 and 1993, I was always surrounded by some female companion… the sex-crazed Junko, or my love Noboko.
I could have used more Noboko and less Junko, but lonely… I only wished I was a bit more lonely with the constant attention Junko demanded I give to her, as she pampered me to exhaustion.
And what about all the women I slept with between them and before them?
All it took was for me to go to my local bar where they knew I liked to go… THEY knew… and almost like they had each taken a number, waited until someone metaphorically called their number.
“Now serving #47. Number 47… hello, my name is Andrew. What’s your name?”
I never had to ask anyone out. They didn’t even have to ask me out.
Arriving at my bar table and stool uninvited and mostly unafraid, one at a time—no pushing in line… no butting… that’s my job—women would come and chat me up in broken English.
Most of the time we barely got the introductions out of the way before one would invite me to go to my place.
I know, I know… this was 25 years ago… and nowadays Japanese women don’t seem to be AS interested in sex as the women of 25 years ago were.
I think it’s true that socially Japan has changed.
I think that’s because of social media and cell phones—at least partially.
If i was in Japan now, as a 25-year-old, I would not have the same success as I did back in the early 1990s… but I still believe I would have had success.
Before re-writing of my adventures here in this blog, I had to re-read them in my diary (diaries) first… while it’s true I may be slightly more mature than I was back then, the Andrew that was me is pretty similar to the Andrew who is me.
Like having a weight lifted off me, I realize now that the song remains the same.
Maybe i liked to punish myself - beat myself up whenever I wasn’t in a real relationship… shut myself off from the world to reboot my system. To make people worried… few ever did. Matthew did.
Does it sound weird to state that I like to be alone... hmm... maybe I don't like to be alone... but I can handle it...
Even nowadays, it doesn't bother me... I wonder if that's a learned experience, or if one's brain is ingrained to adore or abhor?
Whatever... check out the video above to see one how one Japanese man has found a way to combat loneliness.
As for me? I don't even know if I'm lonely... is that why I put myself in harm's way by coaching kid's sports? Is that why I blog?
And even as I reach out, why do I pull back? Do I trust people? Have I learned not to trust people?
Do I just like asking a lot of questions?
I don't feel lonely, however. In Japan, I think I felt lonely... but was I?