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Sunday, July 1, 2012

Canada Day in Japan

July 1 is Canada Day. Canada became Canada in 1867 with the enactment of the British Noprth America Act... which we now call the Constitution Act of 1867. It was the uniting of three colonies: Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and the Province of Canada - which was then divided into Ontario and Quebec. Ontario and Quebec were previously known as Upper and Lower Canada, respectively, belonging to the British and French, respectively. And I say that with a lot of respect. 

Despite being born in London, England, of parents born in India, and having lived in Japan (hence this blog), I am most definitely a Canadian. I'm not a hyphen Canadian, and must admit it pisses me off when people say they are so and so-Canadian. Pick one, dammit. Have some respect!

It's what I admire about the Japanese. In Japan, perhaps because of homogeneity, they are simply 'Japanese'. 

The photo above - well... I've posted it a few times now... but what is important is the flag waving - hmm... the flag pole seems to be jutting out from my crotch. Good god. After 21 years, how it it that I just noticed that?

Matthew took the photo... I believe he was either jutting out from my bedroom window, or more than likely leaning out from my northern balcony and peering south to my western balcony in Ohtawara-shi, Tochigi-ken, Japan back in the summer of 1991.

That flag is something Matthew and I picked up one day after an international festival held in our adoptive hometown.

Matthew is from Binghamton, New York, US of A, and I'm from Toronto, Ontario in Canada... and after the festival, but sometime at around 10PM, the two of us were riding around town on our bikes when we spied a streamer of flags.

Just so you know - by 9PM on any given night, the sidewalks of Ohtawara are rolled up, and the only ones out are looking for fun. We were out because Matthew was looking to celebrate. 

In anticipation of the celebration, I obviously took a Canadian flag, and I'm almost positive Matthew took an American one.

It was probably the first illegal thing we did in Japan. If it was illegal.

This evening... it was July 4 of 1991 when we liberated the flags. It being Independence Day for the US.

Matthew, like all Americans, had earlier got his hands on some fireworks. I'm not a big fireworks guy... I've set off a few Black Cat firecrackers  when I was maybe 11 - bang-bang-bang-bang! - but that was it.

Matthew... he had sparklers and some missile-like fireworks that would shoot high into the air and explode in noise and colors and sparks! Matthew would light them all - I wanted nothing to do with them. I'm Canadian, and yet, I am a chicken when it comes to fireworks.

I wonder if Matthew would have been so keen to fire these things off with a Canadian if he had remembered that the Star Spangled Banner (US anthem) was written by Francis Scott Key after witnessing the British navy in Cheaspeake Bay bomb Ft. McHenry during the War of 1812 (we Canadians celebrated the 200th anniversary of that this week).

The Brits - and Canadians - worked in cahoots against our evil neighbors to the south back then. 

You know the lines...    
 And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there;  

Well... perhaps Matthew did remember those lines. I specifically recall one particular rocket that Matthew lit coming whipping towards me, and me having to dive out of the way as it exploded against a nearby fence.

Revenge? Or a simple accident? Only Matthew knows for sure.

Anyhow... every picture tells a story... it's worth a thousand words.  Good...  I was at 499 before this sentence.

Happy birthday Canada! Thanks for the flag, Japan! Thanks for the near-death experience, Matthew. And maybe I'll do something for Independence Day in a few days time. You know... as a sign of respect.

Andrew Joseph


  1. Wow, you look REALLY proud to be Canadian. Even your clothes match the flag. The flagpole is aptly placed. Also, what book are you holding up? Or is it a VHS?

    1. It's my first Stephen King book! That I know... I had never read horror... I've never been scared by words... and so I was disappointed... but which book? You made me look it up... Needful Things! Aaagh! The questions people ask! good thing I enjoy looking things up! Knowledge is my needful thing...