I’ve been messaging someone who lived in Japan through her blog, The Six Foot Bonsai. She lived in Japan before and it really brought home a lot of the recent events. I’ve been caught up in the day-to-day stuff, like finding food and shelter, as well as staying safe, so I haven’t really been thinking about the human impact and the way family have been torn apart or destroyed completely. She had this to say about her old life here:
I lived on Sadogashima as a young housewife and I was in charge of tending to the dying matriarch, so I was in and out of the ryojinhomu (retirement home). I saw many different ba-chan (old ladies) then with all kinds of dementia. I could actually take their state and transpose it onto every Japanese young, old, male, female…anyone. Some ba-chans said nothing, but their mouths were in a constant scream. Others picked away at their blankets as if the were after weeds in their gardens. A few were bent over in perfect right angles from working in the fields. Ritualistic processes would be repeated over and over. I would watch the Japanese elderly and unstable.
When I was out walking close to the school, I was thinking about this and I came across the sculptures pictured above and it really made me sad. The older people in this country have been through so much in their lives, seeing Japan modernising, the war, the post-war economic boom, bubble, the bursting of the bubble and now this. I don’t know if the infection has affected all of the old people or just a large proportion, but either way, no one deserves to go out like that.
I was feeling pretty melancholy about all of this, but I was able to put it out of my mind a little when I got back to the school. When I got to the gate, Risa came running up to me excitedly saying, “Mum and dad found hotdogs! We’re going down to the river to cook them.”
I didn’t really know what she was talking about, but we hopped on the bikes and I followed her down to the small picnic area where her parents and Alex were waiting. Apparently they had been at the small corner shop and found a few cans of hot dogs, stale bread and sauces. Taro wanted to try a way cooking them he’d done when he was at school, and had wrapped each hot dog in tin foil, then put each package into old milk packs. He then set them all on fire, while Alex looked on with a bit of a smirk. It was really weird, but standing there with the four other people I knew in this country helped me to push the thoughts of earlier to the back of my mind.
As the flames died down, a line of blackened tinfoil packages remained. We opened them up, and the hot dogs inside didn’t seem overly strange. We added sauce, and although the bread was past it’s best, it was amazing to eat something different after so long. Sometimes you have to thank all of the preservatives they put into cheap bread these days. Standing by the river at the picnic area eating hotdogs as the sun was starting to dip beneath the trees, it was hard not to think about how lucky are, all things considered. Three cars drove past while we were there. We waved, but none of them stopped.