JAPAN 1999. Your man in the Land of the Rising Sun

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JAPAN 1999. Your man in the Land of the Rising Sun

At the tail end of the Nineties I approached what was then called the Asia 2000 Foundation for assistance to go to Japan to do . . .

Well, in all honesty, whatever came up.

I was a senior feature writer at the New Zealand Herald with a decent track record of serious journalism, some award-winning stories and had spent personal time in various parts of South East Asia (and maybe even Japan before this, it's a blur) and so . . .

They gave me a modest but decent amount: enough to get trains and buses, a room, a plate of noodles and a beer every day.

That seemed enough to me. So I went from the bottom to middle on Japan's main island with no help and no language. I loved it.

Waitakere City (as it then was) had a sister city relationship with Fukuoka - where I started and was saki-ed, dined, given a lovely engraved wine-glass and a watch which never lost a second -- by the mayor.

Later I visited an astonishingly boring young New Zealand teacher who was up near Fukushima and had a boozy night of karaoke singing until dawn with a man who seemed to run titty bars, a tourist information centre and was something to do with the nearby nuclear power plant which later imploded. His was a long business card.

And in what was an extraordinarly productive 28 days I filed 29 stories for the New Zealand Herald which covered everything from the local rock music scene, an interview with a 90+ year old banker about the "economic bubble" which had burst, a Zen monk, jazz bars, New Zealand-Japan cultural relations, kids in Shinjuku and Yoyoji Park, a Beatles record store somewhere, cheap food (and expensive booze which I couldn't really afford), met some guys who showed me how you could download individual songs from CDs onto you own CD and pay a nominal fee for it . . . and . . .

Just a lot.

There were trains, handshakes, saki and singing, uncomfortable (for me) politeness, cheap tatami mats, a moving period in Nagasaki which haunts me to this day, a long strange and sad day and night with a tertiary education teacher/salaryman who got drunk and told me he and his wife hadn't had sex in years . . .  and . . .

Just a lot, and more.

At one point, because it was the Japanese way and I was an honoured guest I was interviewed by some newspaper.

Much later they sent me the following clipping.

I have no recollection of this at all.

These entries are of little consequence to anyone other than me Graham Reid, the author of this site, and maybe my family, researchers and those with too much time on their hands.

Enjoy these random oddities at Personal Elsewhere.

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