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Ginza Hokoten Story Ⅱ
Judit Kawaguchi
Ginza Hokoten Story Ⅱ


Since 2000 I’ve been listening to people in the middle of Ginza’s hokoten and on any given day I see a great kaleidoscope of people: a young Osaka guy dressed in his coolest with his pretty girlfriend who was recently transferred to Tokyo, an elderly lady, a bit tired yet full of jokes, just off her shift selling lunchboxes at Tokyo station, a retired man taking photos and a middle-aged couple from Fukushima prefecture shopping for fish at Matsuya.
Once they hear that I was born in Hungary, they describe how beautiful Budapest is with the Danube river running between the hilly Buda and the flatter Pest sides. They are familiar with Hungarian music and wine, our beautiful folk arts and the many healing hot springs. I am always amazed how much Japanese already know about the world and how eager and curious they are to learn more.
Next they all ask me how I feel in Japan. “I love it here! “ Now this is the point where things get tricky. Maybe exactly because what they are familiar with tend to be the most positive and most culturally interesting aspects, I always get surprised looks that I prefer living here. Of course I do: first of all, I am married to a Japanese man and his home is naturally mine, too. Plus I really love Japan and often think that even if I were single, I would want to live in Tokyo.
In the past 12 years here I had this exact same conversation thousands of times and a fascinating pattern appeared: I found that people around 70 or over smile knowingly, nod their heads and heartily agree that Japan is a great country and a nice place to live. Still they are amazed that a non-Japanese can love it that much but at least they are understanding and happy about it. However, from people between 55 to 65 and their children, the 25-35 age bracket I often get a whole different reaction: “Really? I think it’s much better in Europe and in the USA. I would rather live there!” This is not the typical Japanese kenson: they seem to really mean it and are eager to explain their position.
Now let’s go back to 1985, Chicago when I was just fresh off the plane from Hungary and working as a waitress and very few people I talked to had any idea about Hungary and probably nobody ever questioned why I was living in the USA instead of Budapest. Their comment was always: “All right! Welcome to America! This is the greatest country on earth!” Words are powerful: although I was poor for the first time in my life and I had to work all the time just to pay the bills, every moment I felt thankful for the opportunity to be in the US.
In Japan I found total happiness but it seems to me that the Japanese just don’t see where I am coming from.
Till next time, from hokoten with love! JK
【2006/05/20 19:44】 | Ginza Hokoten 物語(J/E) | トラックバック(0) | コメント(0)
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