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Sunday, April 23, 2017

No Man Is A Mountain

There’s a certain absurdity of life that I seem to embrace on a regular basis:

I am a weirdness magnet.

Over the years I have been doing this blog, I took about 5+ years to write about my entire three-year stay in Japan between 1990-1993.

One of my frequent topics—because it was a real part of my life—was the fact that no matter how close I seemingly was, at no time could I see Mt. Fuji… perhaps the most iconic representation of Japan.

I’d march up a volcanic mountain to the north of my home in Ohtawara-shi, Tochigi-ken… drop a coin in to the slot of some high-powered binoculars, swivel the damn thing around to the south west and try and spot Mt. Fuji some 100 kilometers away

Clear, blue skies overhead, but where I looked all I saw was a grey cover of mist as the mystic mountain was enshrouded by a rain storm.

Rain, snow, fog, mist, smog… it didn’t matter which, something would rear its ugly head to obscure my vision.

Now… this wasn’t such an obsession for me that I would try and spot the mountain every single day I was in Japan. It didn’t dominate my thoughts until such time as I was in an opportunity to supposedly see it.

I had traveled by it numerous times on the shinkansen bullet train… but I couldn’t see it thanks to the grey misty rainy clouds that hung low to the ground.

I even got off the train once at a town supposedly two or three kilometers south of Mt. Fuji… but no… mist… rain… and some stupid luck where the black and white film I had shot around the area was accidentally processed as color because who the hell had any black and white film?

I had friends visit from Canada, stay at my place and then travel down to Tokyo and over to where Mt. Fuji was supposedly hiding, climb the damn thing...

I had friends on the JET Programme do the same... and yet, every time I bothered to look, my white whale was nowhere to be seen.

I had actually given up in seeing Mt. Fuji in the flesh, so to speak, when it came time for me to go home at the end of my three, one-year contracts...

I flew home without a thought for the misty mountain, and instead made plans to return to see my girlfriend Noboko, flying back to Japan after a month's respite back in Toronto.

I stayed another month of fun and frivolous activity with Noboko, and pain and aggravation with Noboko as I unsuccessfully tried to convince her that a life would me would better than one under her powerful father.

During my three years in Japan, I had been on what any casual observer would have described as one helluva lucky or winning streak... but I knew it was all a house of cards.

Unlucky at cards, unlucky at love.

So I flew back home from Japan that last time... staring out the window from 20,000 feet up in the air, hoping I could still see Noboko--I really did think like that--staring back at Japan... my life that was, and realizing that the life that could have been had been crushed under the weight of the world.

And there... there out the damn window was Mt. Fuji... rising through the clouds like some magnificent giant's finger... giving it to me one more time.

It would have been funny if I hadn't already been in one of those moods knowing I would never see Noboko again...

Hey Andrew... looking for me?

Fug you.

That's what I thought.

But then I took it as another sign... just when I thought I was out, it dragged me back again... it was like it was telling me to never give up... everything comes to those who wait... just maybe not how you thought it would be... but there... see?

I whipped out my camera and tried to snap a photo of Mt. Fuji to prove I hadn't imagined the whole thing... that life was not just a dream...

I looked at the camera... I was already at 36 shots on my roll of 36 film... but I knew that if I had loaded it just right I could get 37 images.

I snapped one shot... the one at the top of this blog...

To me it was like Japan was telling me just one last time, kid, that you were lucky.

When I arrived home, I had culture shock like you wouldn't believe... still bowing on the phone, accidentally driving into the wrong side of the road... unbelieving that no one wanted to hear me talk about how great Japan had been for me, or about all the neat things about the country that would blow my mind...

Because I continued to lust after Noboko for one more year until my mother died the day before Noboko's birthday... or ON her birthday considering the time difference... I still had Japan on the brain.


When no one cares but you, a smart guy kindda gets the picture... and my momma didn't raise no fools.

I stopped talking about it.

I stopped thinking about it.

I certainly never wrote about it.

Bored with an endless stream of women working in jobs of questionable moral character (because that is what I had become), and going to the gym six times a week, two hours a day, taking supplements both legal and of questionable moral character, I had become someone I didn't recognize anymore.

And there was still this fledgling thing called the Internet that had been out for six years... and I had all these wonderful stories of my rife in Japan that I had written for various JET Programme newsletters... maybe I could create a blog (biographical log) of my time in Japan.

The thing with a blog, that I saw back in 1999, was that while there were a lot of blogs about Japan, they were all about a current stay... with almost all writing 100 words to describe something... with few delving within themselves to describe WHY something was, or how they really felt about Japan.

So I wrote this blog starting in 2009... to be true to myself and thus to Japan.... but still initially as a means to get those old stories out for someone to read.

Now eight years in... now nearly three times as long as my stay in Japan... now writing stuff about nothing and everything every single day sine February of 2011.

Fulfilling whatever prophecy Mt. Fuji had developed for me... to never get close enough to touch it... but just close enough to know it's there... and that I got to experience it.

Okay... I'm 13 hours late with this blog... too many things on the go...

Thanks for indulging me.

Andrew Joseph


  1. Replies
    1. I'm not dead. Just forgetful. Thanks. Revenge can be postponed, my dear FFF.