A new chapter begins

I’m now finishing my first week in Japan, having being wafted here with Teutonic efficiency by those nice people at Lufthansa. Even getting the sword through customs proved an absolute breeze – however I’m sure getting it back into Britain won’t be quite so easy.

The place hasn’t changed much in my absence – i.e. junk and clutter everywhere. I’m not sure if this decor scheme is actually some kind of post-earthquake look or what. It’s bloody annoying, although to be fair the big problem is lack of available storage space. A shortfall that yours truly and his toolbox has already been called upon to remedy. No rest for the wicked.

Yet, for all the tasks waiting for my attentions, it is good to be back. I don’t know what it is, but I sleep so much better here. Monday night I slept for a straight 14 hours. And I needed it, after the traumas of the last 6 weeks.

Today we went to Suginami City Hall so I can register as an alien and get my infamous “gaijin card”. When issued, all foreigners have to carry this card with them at all times because they can be stopped by the police and asked for it in any circumstances. If you don’t have it, it’s “nick ni ikimasho, watashi no furui chugoku sara” – “let’s visit the nick shall we, my old china plate?”

Our American cousins (and I suspect the PC brigade in the UK) really hate this idea of being “picked-on” to produce ID papers on demand just because you are a foreigner. But I can’t see what the problem is. It’s their country and they have every right to wish to protect themselves from the kind of international miscreants that the UK falls over itself to welcome. I say, good luck to them. If you follow the rules and have done nothing wrong, there’s no problem.

I guess in the UK it’s different insofar as if you jump through all the right hoops (and pay their extortionate blackmail fees) you can eventually “become British” – whatever that means. Here it’s different: You are welcome to come and settle, as long as you obey the rules, but you will NEVER be Japanese. Again, I don’t really have a problem with that because I am not (nor, despite a deep affection for the country and its people, do I want to become) one.

However I can see that this status of “gaijin” might begin to become irritating after I begin paying taxes and medical insurance to my host country (next month!). One would like to think that participating financially in society would allow one to also participate socially and politically as equals. But not so. Mind you – looking at the so-called democracy in the UK, I can’t see much difference.

Oh..apart from the fact, there’s very little crime here, the streets are clean, there’s no stupid laws that penalise the law-abiding, the trains work, the cost of living is reasonable… etc etc