February 05, 2009

The House of the Rising Sun

Here is my response to the second of five questions asked by Lime. They really are tough ones so I don't want to just peel off a frivolous answer just to fulfil my Memterview obligations.
This is the second question: What part of life in Japan do you love most? What part of life in the USA do you miss most?

As many of you have noticed, I am a little long winded and have a tendency to overcomplicate things that ordinary people handle in a straightforward manner. The question looks simple yet it offers myriad avenues for me to choose from. Shall I discuss the sights and sounds of my adopted home or shall I espouse upon the changes Japan has had upon me or will I be more pragmatic and tell you about the simple life I lead. It's not so easy.
What do you think of when you envision Japan? Is it a high-tech wonderland of neon, flashy gizmos and steaming bowls of noodles or do you see Geisha walking down lantern lighted lanes with Samurai at their sides. Is it a world of Judo and fast cars; of international business cartels and an incomprehensible sense of politeness and honor? It's all that and more. I like this place for all the good things, the silly things, the puzzling and outrageously frustrating things, but I like it most for all it has shown me about myself. In order to live here I had to tear down the walls of prejudice and ignorance and learn to learn again. I created a new and deeper value system for myself that had nothing to do with my own personal achievement, but rather on the effect I had on the world and folks around me. I had to realize that there are many ways to achieve the same objective and no two countries or people go about it in the same way. Yes I knew these things in my head and with my intellect, but feeling them in your bones is quite a different thing. I love the life I live because I have to work so damn hard to get it. In America things would have been a lot easier for me and I might not have valued it as much.

Plus the women are so damn HOT here!!!
A gift for Grant

The country, and especially the city of my birth is still the sweetest place I can imagine and there are times when I come back I feel that maybe "This time I'll stay for good", but I don't.
Before I tell you about the thing I miss most I would like to mention the one thing that I don't miss at all: Americans have a horrible habit of passionately stating their opinions as if they were cold hard facts. Now the irony of saying this is not lost on me. I am an American who has always said what he believes and I love this country even at times when it doesn't act in the most responsible and honorable way.
As far as countries go we' re special; ours is a land that is based on principles and ideas that before our forefathers applied them, they only existed as abstract ideas and ideals. Then again let's not forget that were still pretty new at this, two hundred thirty some odd years is not a whole helluva lot of time when you compare us to other nations. There are festivals here in Japan that are older than that.
So, what is it exactly that I miss about the USA?
I'll have to supply two answers to that query: 1. My family and 2. The food!
My god do I miss the glorious food of home. I can circle the globe just by walking into the multitude of restaurants that serve us gastronomical delicacies. In New York alone I can enjoy Cinco de Mayo in a Tapas bar or lift a stein of lager in a gasthaus during Oktoberfest, enjoy a funnel cake at a street fair and even celebrate San Gennaro with an eppie roll and plenty of wine.
The feasting and cornucopia of the United States is unmatched by any other country. Forget the fast food restaurants, it's only called fast food 'cause it speeds you on your way to the grave, take a road trip through the amazing, if not always gourmet fare that feeds the nation. The chillis of the southwest and fresh apple pie in Washington. Cheddar cheese in Wisconsin and Pralines in New Orleans don't forget to include a dirty water dog on the Coney island boardwalk.
Don't live to eat. Eat to live and live well. You have the best of everything, America. Majestic mountains. Thundering rivers. Cities that hold some of the most beautiful architecture and an amazing panoply of people from all over the world. You have it all, but I miss your food the most.


Grant said...

I promise you now that whatever happens, I will never ever miss a funnel cake. Bleah - it has to be the most embarrassing American food ever.

BTW, could you edit your post to include a J-bunny pic after the "Plus the women are so damn HOT here!!!" statement? More pics of Ebi-chan would be nice.

Spin said...

Good answer! Ido have to say there are a lot of these foods that I love too.
Love that comment on fast foods.

lime said...

this answer was so well worth the wait. how rich and deep a set of reflections on what you've gained and what you crave.

tear down the walls of prejudice and ignorance and learn to learn again. I created a new and deeper value system for myself that had nothing to do with my own personal achievement, but rather on the effect I had on the world and folks around me

that line in particular is so resonant. wonderful. thank you.

whimsical brainpan said...

Great answer!

Kurt said...

But you're going to live forever eating that Japanese food.

NYD said...

Grant~ Done Deal, Budddy

Spin~ I don't like fast foods except for Yoshinoy beef bowls. Damn I could eat a truckload of the stuff.

Lime~ The thanks goes to you! You bring out the best in people and the questions are perfect. Wait til you see what I'm gonna do with the next one.

Whimsy~ Just tryin to keep the standards high, kiddo.

Kurt~ You only live forever if you give up all the things that make you want to.

Megan said...

I thought for sure I commented yesterday. I guess I didn't. More fool me.

I am so in awe of you, writing such essays for each question. Loved this one, can't wait for the next one...

The Grunt said...

All this talk about food has got me salivating. I've gotta go get a meatball sub now.

Mona said...

true, the greatest difference between the people of Japan and that of America is the laziness factor... People of Japan are truly amazing in their hard work & resilience !

Food...I am not so sure about...I haven't have the fortune of tasting any Japanese food, But American food is not made to suit my palate!

Grant said...


X. Dell said...

Hmm. This reminds me of when I first left the US. A few weeks before my return, I had this craving for Hostess Twinkies (far worse than funnelcakes).

I don't even like Hostess Twinkees. So, I think what I really missed was the opportunity to go to a store and not buy them.

-Cora said...

Both times I've traveled abroad our group took food supplies to the families who'd moved from the US to live in other parts of the world they felt they were called to serve in. Watching them open a box full of stuff like Mac-n-cheese, froot loops, different soups and sauces- it was like watching a toddler on Christmas morning, only with more feeling. What you described here has helped me understand why those "pantry boxes" meant so much to my missionary friends...food from home feeds the body, and perhaps the soul as well? There's just nothing else like it ♥