Graham Reid | | 2 min read
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.
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