I finally managed to get a boiler installed at the house in Yadorigi, thanks to Baker Sato, which may tell you something about how slow progress has been. I’d spent the rest of the day cleaning the bathroom, which had seemingly become a breeding ground for mosquitoes. With the little time I had left, I finally took some tentative shots around Yadorigi with the new camera.
End of summer in Yadorigi: frame grabs from the Sony fs100 video camera.
Earlier in the summer I had been so caught up in the process of finding a house and making it liveable, that I’d essentially given up doing any camera work, leaving my cumbersome camera gear back in Tokyo. Consequently I have missed some glorious moments that would have been great to film. One such scene was when I came across a river swarming with dragon flies (as I was later told they were), on the way to Baker Sato’s place. It was a marvellous sight, especially with the setting sun lighting the moment golden at just the right time.
As I trudged around Yadorigi, this time round with my camera and tripod in each hand this, I idly hoped that I would come across that beautiful scene once more, and be able to record it. Unfortunately it was not to be, and in my mind I promised myself never to miss such moments again. However with a lot of work still to be done on the house, and my time in the village severely limited, it will be a constant challenge.
It’s nearing the end of summer in Japan now, which also marks the end to the punishingly hot and humid days. Used a more temperate British climate, I had always loathed the Japanese summers. However, oddly, this time I feel a distinct melancholy as summer draws to the end.
Having been kind enough to help me install the boiler, Baker Sato then invited me to a gathering a neighbour was having. It was a fun night, with copious amounts of sake lubricating the conversations. The neighbour himself was a interesting guy, and a possible character for the project. I dubbed him Laser man, simply due to the fact that his life now revolved around a high powered laser device from Germany that he was entrusted to find a market for in Japan. He took immense joy in demonstrating the power of the laser to his assembled friends, who I mentally nicknamed “The Justice League”.
Laser man, and most of his male friends for that matter, seemed to reflect the attitude that many men in Japan have to relationships – though once married with a child, he seemingly preferred the freedom of being a bachelor, and lived alone in this large house in Yadorigi.
I have met a few bachelors of this age in Japan who essentially eschew the idea of marriage; perhaps the boom generation (middle age people who had made their money when Japan was very prosperous) are so used to getting what they want that they are no longer prepared to compromise for the sake of a relationship (though I believe if that is the case, Japanese women might be equally culpable in this respect). Perhaps also a traditional married life in Japan might amount to, in the worst case scenarios, virtual servitude for a woman, and the loss of financial freedom for a man – an old fashioned relationship dynamic that still carries significant cultural resonance. It’s not really my place to question how relationships work in Japan too deeply, but the simple fact remains that Japan has one of the lowest marriage and birth rate levels in the developed world, and there may be something intrinsic to modern Japanese society influencing that.
Such conjecture aside, the only real way to find out in this instance would be to learn from the man himself, if I could only convince him to talk to me in front of a camera…