Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Tokyo is Like 1986 Again - Let's Live for Today

Today is a wonderful time to begin to live for today. Let's try to give up our guilt feelings and our hate and anger. Let's give up our attachments and surrender our sins. Let's drop our defensiveness and our masks. Let's go back in time to when we were more pure at heart.

Live. Let's really live for today.
Thomas Aquinas put it nicely when he said, "Every time someone sins, they're sinning under the guise of good even though they know it's bad; they're rationalizing because they're seeking something under the pretext of good."

As Anthony De Mello wrote in Awareness:

"Charity is never so lovely as when one has lost consciousness that one is practicing charity. 'You mean I helped you? I was enjoying myself. I was just doing my dance. I helped you, that's wonderful. Congratulations to you. No credit to me."

Kabukicho crossing in Shinjuku 

Last night I went through Shibuya and Shinjuku. I rode the subway, the JR and the Keio line from Shinjuku for the first time in at least 20 some years.

It was like a time trip. It brought back good memories.

One more thing brought back good memories; as I rode the trains and walked the stations, I saw very few foreigners. In fact, I'd guess that I didn't see more than 5 foreigners on the entire trip. Why that brings back memories is that that is because it was the way it used to be; you rarely saw foreigners.

I remember a time when I walked down Center Street in Shibuya and people stared at me and whispered, "There's a foreigner." That was back in January of 1979. Those were the days when, in Japan, you were a star just because you were a foreigner.

How silly we all were. I was such a fool. And, as a young man, I loved playing the fool.

It felt strange last night to stand at the Japan Rail (JR) platform at Shibuya and Shinjuku and not see one single other foreigner standing around the platform and I even looked for them.

I hate to admit it, but it felt fine.

I felt like a 20-year-old once again as, in the early to mid-eighties, that's what it was like in those days: very few foreigners; you had to look for them to see them. Perhaps it was my imagination, but I thought that  little boy in the train walked up to me and stared at me out of curiosity.

If you want to take a time trip in Tokyo then you can do it today. Throw away your preconceptions and live for the now. See what is around you and notice what is different today than yesterday.

If you've been in Japan a long time, then look around. Really look around. Take this opportunity that we have been given to, if even for a moment, go back to a younger time.

This moment is fleeting. We rarely get a chance to go back in time. Catch it today and live it while you can.

If you have recently done wrong or felt guilty because of your actions, or you want to help, don't talk about it. Say nothing and do it. Do it for yourself. Don't do it for other people or to gain glory.

Could there be any greater glory than being happy and living in the now and being and doing "happy"?

If you need help, then say it. There's far too many who are willing to offer advice and yet, far too few who are willing to actually get off the couch and help and lend a hand.

The best advice is no advice and the best charity is the charity that one does for fun. The happiest people admit their sins and drop their chains.

"There's no begging bowl in a true community. There's no clinging, no anxiety, no fear, no hangover, no possessiveness, no demands. Free people form community, not slaves..." - Anthony De Mello


Dave said...

Well, not sure if it's like '86 (I was 9, and in the UK), but it's glorious out there today. Tokyo, despite recent events, remains one of the most wonderful places to be in the world.

Michael McThrow said...

Last year I did an internship with a major Japanese company in Kawasaki, where I also lived (I lived in the Nakahara ward, so I'm familiar with the Tokyu Toyoko, Meguro, and Den-en-toshi lines; I never rode the Keio lines before since those lines ran much further north than where I lived.). Whenever I had free time after work and was not tired, I would explore the Kawasaki and Tokyo areas. One thing I noticed was that along the major stops of the Yamanote Line, such as Shinjuku, Shibuya, and Akihabara, I would always run into foreigners. However, judging by their mannerisms, I could tell that they were mostly tourists and not residents. As soon as I ventured outside of the Yamanote Loop, however, finding other foreigners was very rare, even in places near the Yamanote Line such as Sangenjaya and Nakameguro (both of which are very nice places). In Kawasaki I was sometimes given "star treatment." Whenever I ate at a ma-and-pop restaurant, I would usually get questions about where I was from and how I liked Japan (and I would almost always hear 「日本語が上手ですね」, even though I'm still far from fluent in Japanese), and I would occasionally hear the words 「外人」 and 「アメリカ人」 from children. I enjoyed the attention. I guess the nuclear scare has really taken a toll on tourism, and the fear-mongering by sensationalistic journalists is not helping matters at all.

If I remember correctly, you live in the Setagaya Ward in Tokyo. Do you see many foreigners there? The only parts of the Setagaya Ward that I'm familiar with are Sangenjaya and Futako-tamagawa along the Den-en-toshi Line; I don't remember seeing many foreigners at either place. I really like what I saw along that line. There is a great pancake place called Voi-Voi south of the Sangenjaya Station, and I liked shopping at Futako-tamagawa and exploring the Tama River.

I enjoy reading your blog posts and your articles on! Keep up the great work, and I look forward to hearing more about Japan from a libertarian point of view!

See Otter said...

Here's something fun to play, let's borrow from Hawaiian local culture and institute 'Kill Flyjin Day'!

Like their Kill Haole Day! Fun fun fun.

Just kidding... actually I second what Michael very intelligently said above in his comment - there were always TONS of foreign tourists in core areas like Harajuku etc. but off the main areas, very few I ever much saw.

Anyway I'll be back in Tok for my usual May/June/July thing soon, not worried about radiation at all but glad I'm a martial artist in case some locals stirred to Flyjin hating madness come after me with a tar brush and goose feathers...

d. wad said...

It's kinda funny. If flyjin is actually used in Japan then it would be "fryjin" which would of course maybe what they really would like to do to the foreigners that split. Have a fryjin on a stick. Only 200 Yen.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for bringing back some good memories. You described it perfectly.

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