So I cycle to school this morning, through the road (which frankly reminds me of a Zelda Game in that it is straight and has crossroads with roads that seem to go off into the middle of nowhere, I know there`s a shield hidden in that field, if only I could find the sword to cut down the long grass and find it…) that goes past orchards and paddy fields. I was even lucky enough for Fuji to make a brief appearence this morning through the clouds. Mountains in the distance and paddy fields up close and I cycle around the bend to be greeted by familiar strains of music slipping over the farmhouses and the Beauty Parlour..’da da da daaaa da’…sudden familiarity drops in…’Da..daaa.da..da.da.daaa…da…’ and The New World Symphony welcomes my bycicle past the school field where the marching band are practising again (last night I left to Holst, I can’t remember whether it was Jupiter Bringer of Jollity or Mars Bringer of War as they were practisinmg both all day in the baking heat!) And then the sudden jolt as I really place the music in a specifically cultural way, I swing myself off the bike as the music’s playing and into my head pops ‘laike tekkin bread up top o world’…no one’s going to say that today about the music. No one would understand if I said it, in England it would at least get an eye roll. In this country I cycle past a MacDonalds and a KFC everyday but there is no Hovis.
My adult class only seem to want to talk to me about America, Bill Clinton, George Bush, John Kerry. No one’s heard of Tony Blair (should I breathe a sigh of relief?) I even tried the lady from Grantham and no one knew who she was either.
English culture? Oh you mean American. You’re an America? No English! Ahhh so you been to New York?
Part of my remit is supposedly internationalisation…but all the Japanese people I meet seem to want to know about is America, and it’s really not my forte.
I even took a blasting for being American from a Phillipino lady I walking around the five lakes with on SUnday. Eventually I gave up protesting ‘But I’m not American’ and ‘Not all American’s are like that’ when she deigned to explain she was from the Phillipines, and gave me a list as long as Schwarzenegger’s arm of the many and varied atrocities and breaches of humanity that America and Americans have perpetrated on and in the Phillipines. (I briefly wondered about asking about Arroya and Iraq and decided not to!) It occurred to me during her rant about child rape, molestation, American soldiers and wartime occupation (all separate as well as linked subjects, it was a rant that spanned about seventy years!) that had it been a hundred years in the past and another of several countries throughought the world then it would have been Britain she was ranting about and me she was ranting to, not the American that she thought I was.
So my rice fields are dotted with vending machines that sell Coca~Cola and MacDonalds are so numerous I use them to navigate by. On the other hand I cycle past Mount Fuji everyday (even if he is mostly covered in kumori) and there is no Hovis!