Monday, 20 September 2004


Finding it difficult to know what to write tonight. The main probelm is the book I'm reading at the moment - Alex Kerr's Dog and Demons: The fall of modern Japan. This is a fascinating book and well worth a read, especially to anyone living in Japan. The gist of it is that, essentially, Japan is f****d - too much concrete, too much destruction, too much debt, too little thinking and not nearly enough caring.

But how true is this of the rest of the world? Are they fingers that can only be pointed at Japan? How much do people care in Europe, America or Australasia?

I'm not sure how much I agree with all of what he has to say, but I am in total agreement about Japan and its love affair with concrete. Japan is fast on the way to becomming an exceedingly ugly place, paved in concrete and then covered in billboards and neon. The 'not enough caring' comes from everyman on the Kawaguchi omnibus, as it doesn't seem to matter that these things happen and few Japanese people seem to speak out about it (that I know or have heard about, I hasten to add). Though perhaps Kawaguchi is a tricky place to choose as from our windows we can see a massive expanse of greenery along the riverbank, both grass and trees, which is one of the main reasons we live where we do (it isn't the 1' 30" journey to work, I can tell you). But I can't believe that very many people in Tokyo and the surrounding Kanto plain get such a view. Our old apartment in Chiba had a car park outside (which was hidden by bamboo trees, which were very nice and Japanesey, until the carpark owner cut them down for no apparent reason) and a road, nothing much to see there, and I don't think it is any better for the majority.

But of course we are living (and choosing to at that) in a megalopolis over 12 million people (in Tokyo, not including Saitama, Chiba and south to Yokohama) so how much more can one expect? And the trains run on time, and no one is likely to mug me, let alone shoot me accidentally during a drug war standoff - OK, too much Fox News Syndrome there, but you get the point.

Maybe that's the problem with the book, too much negativity. Is there an opposite to rose tinted spectacles?

Haven't finished the book yet, but it has certainly got me thinking.

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