Saturday, September 03, 2005

Wednesday 3:00 a.m Perspective
Nagoya is very quiet, empty even

Dedicated to the Cho-Cho san that exists
in all women, West, East, North or South
All the beautiful Madam Butterflies who
wait, patiently.

the comfort woman She/she

She is there, waiting and
an environment, an atmosphere
for those in need of brief respite
from the world, the now
the here

but this one's special
and all can see
She's not there for them
the needy masses
She exists only for He

but because He
is a he
there's a certain ignorance
(a dash of arrogance?)
in the presence
of she who is She

a lack of deeper understanding
of the depth and scope of passioned
sensitivity carried

by her
for him

She, creating
an environment, an atmosphere
of solitude, understanding his need
to escape the world in which He lives

the bed is warm
(not conjugal, that's not her destiny)
the cup of tea
oh calm perfection, thinks He
in her oasis, sweet tranquility


she looks later at the bedclothes
crisp linen now gone limp
the teacup on the table
only dregs to offer memory
of the figure
of he who is He

The sheets are straightened
tea leaves drained from the cold
cup that once held comfort
her gift of solitude now long forgotten

because He needs
a brief respite, an environment
an atmosphere not created

for him
by her

And all can see
He needs to be
in a place
where there is

Thursday, September 01, 2005

The Nagoya Friday Night Perspective

Shrouds Shrugged Off
Shrouds Which Remain

Here sit I
a fly
on the wall
silent witness
to thoughts which
normally remain unsaid
behind a shroud of
Political Correctness
when in the West

The voyage East
to the Land of Mystery
the shroud shrugged off
(sometimes with hesitance)
as the Newcomer
his rusty sexist lexicon
a shy glance here, there
and then declares
"Look at That One!
I'd fuck her in a Flash!"

he then smiles as his comrades
expatriates young and old
give Newcomer a fraternal
Slap! on the back and reinforce
his stance with a
"Fucking Right! I'd give it to her

As the girl they are referring to
blinks "Clink Clink" and smiles knowing,
understanding the words the
but letting the shade and colour
of her skin, the shape of her eye
shroud her in feigned

I've travelled not East but
back in time

Sunday, August 28, 2005

One View of Mount Fuji

The idea of a blog was introduced to me by a friend over a year ago. We were part of a small group of co-workers, thrown together because of work, but choosing to stick together after work hours because we like each other. One of the fold fled for soggy England, and I soon flew the coop as well, supposedly for a 3 month stint in Japan. I say supposedly not because of a change in geographical location; I am indeed in Japan. But a quick look at the calendar indicates that 3 months has transpired into a year and a half. What the hell happened?

In the interim, not only have I stayed here much longer than anticipated, two more comrades have also been bit by the travel bug, and now find themselves in opposite ends of the world; one in Columbia, the other in Korea. We are Generation X personified. All of us are walking that line that separates 30 from 40. Were we in our 20's, we'd be "finding ourselves", but, because we already have a pretty good grasp of that concept, what then are we doing?

Perhaps through my musings I will better understand this place I find myself in now. I call this blog "Western Woman" because, first and foremost, that is the identity that has been firmly placed upon me here. And, with that label comes certain expectations, expectations that, as time goes on, I am finding I am definitely living up to. Self-fulfilling propehecy? I'll say.

For anyone unfamiliar with the Western Woman in Japan phenomenon, the term itself will probably seem quite innocuous. To them I give a loud and forceful "Ha!". To Japanese and foreigners alike, the idea of Western Woman conjures up many descriptive adjectives and images. I can say, having spent a cumulative total of over 6 years here, neither the colourful desriptive words nor the full-blown 8 by 10 glossy image of the Western Woman is a very pretty one. Oh no indeed.

I would like to, over time, get a different perspective of this place; one where my Western Woman goggles aren't so firmly intact, and my guard isn't so at the ready. I want that fresh, just-off-the-plane naivete that happens to all first-time travellers. But, I know that isn't possible. I could, of course, pretend, but that pretense would soon wear off, and I would be back at square one, possibly feeling even more frustrated. So, I have another idea.

There is a famous set of Japanese ukiyo-e prints (and a not-quite-so-famous American book) called "36 Views of Mt. Fuji". Katsushika Hokusai drew Mt. Fuji from different perspectives in order to have a better understanding of its beauty. This is exactly what I need; small daily injections that remind me of the beauty that surrounds me. Mt. Fuji, in all her majesty, needs no airbrushing or touching up in order for her beauty to been seen and appreciated. Japan, the country and its people, however, has been so coated in artifice since the end of the war, that seeing its beauty is not always quite so simple. To appreciate the beauty that I know exists (and which I have witnessed, though briefly) is only a matter of taking the time to scratch the surface with a little more vigour and determination.

For a lazy girl like me, finding the motivation needed to scratch that surface, to get past the labels imposed upon me (and the ones I impose upon others) at times seems like an insurmountable task. But, I have long been an appreciator of perspective, relying on the clarity it gives me. Without exception, that clarity inevitably comes from a perspective captured from only one view - the one in retrospect. That proverbial light bulb flashes days, weeks, even years after certain life experiences, and though I can smile contentedly, better understanding why I had to endure certain hardships, it often feels like too little too late. That flash of understanding would have been put to better use at the time I was living the experience.

Today's decision is to open up the window on perspective, to not only see things from a backward glance over my shoulder. I would like to think that when Katsushika Hokusai was circling Mt. Fuji, drinking in her exquisite allure, he also witnessed flaws in the landscape. And, as he noted the flaws, he knew they were part and parcel of the beauty of the scene he found himself in. Perhaps my own personal "36 Views of Japan" will not only give me a different perspective of the country and the people who inhabit it, but a new and, hopefully, positive view of myself, Western Woman, as well...flaws and all. I can certainly hope so.