Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Dear Japan,

You know I love you. I have come to care for you very deeply, and you will always remain very special to me. You know, we shared a lot over this past year and a half, and I hate to write you like this, but perhaps its easier for both of us. I put this letter off for a long time, thinking that you would just go away, but I just can't forget you. So I know this might hurt, but I have to say a few things.

You have a lot of good things going for you. Takuya, for example, will always be there for you. He is a wonderful and hilarious man, and he will take good care of making sure that you don't stay out of too much trouble.

You'll always be able to take solace in the Heinan Gardens in Kyoto, which are amazingly beautiful. Try not to let them get too much sun, will you?

The concrete Toriis - ah, they are interesting. One never knows what will happen when you walk through them. This little gate, for example, leads to one of the most controversial religious sites in the entire world! Remember how a single politician's visit sparked controversy across Asia? It sure doesn't look all that controversial from the outside....

Still - I'm so glad I visited these places while we were spending time together. I spend quite a bit of time considering the historical debate that this place ignites among your citizens (quietly, and with respectful aims towards consensus, of course!) and around the world.

Of course, you aren't afraid of public opinion at all, are you? Perhaps that is part of your charm, that you can be so fascinated with cultures from around the world - yet quietly refuse to bow to even the most torrential international pressure.

(Whale restaurant, anyone?)

Also, I have to tell you that you can sometimes drink a bit too much sake. This can bring out bad behaviour in your friends.

Of course, one of the things I like best about you is your beauty. There is something magical about the marks your citizens have made on the earth.

Thousands of years or thousands of pounds of steel and concrets - you've built some amazing things. In fact, some of them are stacked on top of each other!

Of course, no one is perfect. You have a few really serious fetishes that are a bit much.

Neon, for example. Someone needs to find the Tokyo neon sign guy and chain him up. Just for one week of the year. Please?

Furthermore, you have a shoe fetish that makes the entire cast of "Sex in the City" look like sensible women with a small number of comfortable shoes.

You also have that whole semi-porno cartoon thing going on. Which is cool and all - we all have our private lives - but do you really have to advertise it (and READ it) on the train?

Especially when any self-respecting businessman can so easily blow a week's salary at a hostess bar that provides ACTUAL, live, giggling girls that pour his drinks for him? I mean, you have about ten near every train station, so maybe you could open up a cartoon-porn-reading nook or something? What's that? You have those and they're called "comic book stores?".

Oh well. At least the hostess clubs believe in truthful advertising.

And you take care of them, too! You even have a place for those well paid hostesses to unwind over drinks poured by pretty boys with 70 000 yen haircuts.

So, you know that I love you, Japan. But, as with any pile of sashimi, stack of 1000 yen notes or year and a half of international adventure, all things must eventually come to a close. My time with you has been wonderful, educational, shocking (for both of us, I suppose) and more interesting than I ever hoped it could have been.

I learned several new languages (spoken Japanese, written Japanese, drunken businessman Japanese), made many new friends, and learned an entirely new set of cultural cues. (bow-lock anybody?)

Still, I had to leave you.

Why? Well, I found someone else, you see. Yes, I did know her all along, but now things are getting serious, and you just can't come between us any more.

Cheesy, silly, ridiculous love. You offered a life of adventure, Japan, but at the end of the day I'm going to come home instead. This love is good stuff – I suggest you try it some time. I’ll let you know how the whole marriage thing works out too– most likley with fewer offensive videos.

Anyway, I just wanted to write and let you know that I'm doing well. I'm sure you've got lots of boys that will give you the attention you crave.

I'll think of you often, I promise. Don't worry about me. I'll find some new adventures.

Tokyo, I'll miss ya. Don't offend too many people without me.

I took one last picture of you, from the bus on the way to the airport. I hope you don't mind.

PS: Write back soon.