As a boy I was intrigued by certain countries, especially if they had a robust culture of fairy-folk and monsters. My intrigue with Scotland, for example, was based on them having the Loch Ness Monster. My lifelong fascination with Japan was kindled by ‘monster week’ on the 430PM movie (oh the embarrassment!). As a ten-year-old I was spellbound by Godzilla.* I didn’t know anything else about The Land of the Rising Sun other than it had bad-ass monsters and it was full-up with spirits and demons.** Since then I’ve tried to learn the land that is behind the schlock. This didn’t diminish my desire to see the place but enhanced it.  

I suppose my fascination with Japan rests mostly on its deemed differences to my up bring. Compared to the dreariness of the Midwest, Japan was exotic and it beat what we got here.  The music (which I love), the customs, the mentality – it all fascinates me.

Oh! I would love to learn the language! The Japanese language has many lovely words and expressions, some I have borrowed to use in my ever-expanding lexicon (and no-doubt use incorrectly):

Boketto: to gaze vacantly into the distance without thinking.

Danshari: to clean out the clutter for a spiritual and physical well-being.

Hikikomori: folks who have withdrawn into their own little worlds, who are only in contact with others through technology.

Karoshi: a death from working too much.

Nodogoshi: a good feeling in the throat (as in tasty food: see photo of the ramen)

Omakase: to entrust, as in “I will leave it to you”. This is said to bartenders or barbers or waiters whom you trust will give what you would like.

Shikata ga nai: ‘it cannot be helped’ or ‘nothing can be done about it”.  

Shinrin-yoku: ‘forest bathing’  meaning a walk in the forest for health’s sake.

A friend of mine lived in Japan for a decade and I could kick myself for never going while he was there. I long to go and see this dreamy and enchanted land – if only to wipe out my probably erroneous beliefs about the place. 

Until the happy day arrives when I actually go there I am learning its history and customs and conventions.  I found on YouTube a young man who is teaching folks like me about Japanese living.  I got his permission to post his link:

 

 

I wonder if the Japanese are quite fed-up with Godzilla. It is one of the first questions I ask when I get there.

 

 

*The official name for Godzilla et. al. is Kaiju.

**These are the Yokai.