Writing lately about Japan

Lately, I’ve been reminiscing in writing about my time in Japan. This is mostly for my own sake, but I think that I’ll post some of it here, for those who may be interested. I’m not going to proof read or edit these pots, so it won’t be up to my usual quality of writing.

We pick up a few weeks into my time in Kagawa, where I was staying in Tadotsu, far away from everyone. I was recently writing about the arrival of Kevin, a short-termer who was with me for 3 weeks.

Finally, a friend

With Kevin, finally I had a friend. Finally I had someone to experience all this new stuff with. Finally, I had someone to talk to when I got home at night. I don’t remember those days super-clearly, but I don’t remember having any attacks of loneliness during that time, and I remember them being brighter days overall, though still tough.

Kevin was a guy born in Taiwan who came to America when he was 12. His English was totally flawless, and we both were big fans of John Piper (at that point in my life, I was coming down from the pinnacle of my Piper-love). Theologically and in life-stage, we hit it off pretty well, and we both would pray together at night whenever we could.

Praying together at night had been something I started in Sapporo after seeing my sophomore roommates Chris and Rich do it. On that project, the guys prayed together every night of the project except for a couple nights. I continued that in the AGO house with some brothers, with my roommate at MTI, and then in my two months in SLO with Stephane. It was a way to debrief the day with a roommate, and then to pray for one another. It has been one of the most powerful habits I’ve developed, but it’s only doable with a roommate. I pray by myself before bed when I’m alone, but it’s just not the same. Lacking that roommate to daily pray with was killing me, both when I was with my parents and then when I was in Japan.

But Kevin and I prayed, and we were encouraged by one another. I don’t remember him being an obnoxious snorer, but I did have to leave my room through a separate door, since he slept in the other half of the Tatami room. Ah yes, the room in Tadotsu. It was something like this:

4-mat room 6-mat room
————-wwwww—————–
|DDD      +                       |
|DDD Chair+                       |
|DDD      +                       |
|DDD FFFF + KKKKK                 W
W    FFFF + KKKKK                 W
W    FFFF + KKKKK                 W
W    FFFF + KKKKK                 W
W    FFFF +                       |
|    FFFF +                       |
|         +                       |
-CCCC-====–=====———-CCCCCC–
|CCCC…..>………SSSSSSSCCCCCCSS
|CCCC…..>………SSSSSSSCCCCCCSS
————WWWWWW—————–
Little hallway

Note: There were also some overhead shelves going around most of the cicumferance of the 4-mat room. Kevin slept in the 6-mat room, and I slept in the 4-mat room.

K = Kotatsu
= = Swinging door (swung inwards)
W = Window
D = Desk
F = Where I lay my Futon
S = Super-steep Killer stairs
. = Wooden floor
= Tatami flooring
> = Little step going down
C = Closet
+ = Sliding door

There we go. Ahh, remembering that room. The windows to the four winds, the heat in the summer (prompting all the screened windows to be permanently open and the fan permenently on), the sliding doors in the middle, etc. One window faced the temple and graveyard, one faced the tall kindergartin, one the neighbors, and on out towards the river. Or something like that. You could see all the ornate roof tiles from that view. My room was a window to the world, a place of refuge when things were so hard. I generally was more at ease in that room than anywhere in the rest of the house. It was a good place for all the hardship of Tadotsu. Even when the heat hit, I kept sleeping in that room without air conditioning. One, I didn’t want to spend the money. Two, I didn’t want to have to rearrange things and set up a bed downstairs. But maybe psycologically, I just felt more at ease up in that room than anywhere else in the house, so I stayed up there, sweating it out. Probably foolish: I should have just forked out the cash.
I have fondness as I remember my little loft, up the neck-break-staircase that I eventually learned to climb quickly. I am probably innacurate in remembering it this fondly, for I spent hours and hours in lonely despair up there, as well, but there was a certain charm to it, at least until I had to bug bomb it (which was later).

Anyways, Kevin was a good companion. He was not much of a snorer, but I rememeber one night when a mosquito (or some other small mosquito-looking fly) got into the the room. I’d had it happen to me: you’re asleep, then you hear a sudden, loud buzzing in your ear: a mosquito is here, and you’re awake, just wanting to kill it. It’s so annoying. Well, at one point, Kevin had had enough, and he turned on the lights and starting banging around his room, trying to kill the bug. I forget if that night he was shouting, “it’s a black one, a blood-sucking black one,” but it woke me up, just the same. Funny, looking back.

Kevin loved milk tea. Most days, he made a big teapot of it and filled a 1 liter bottle with ice milk tea to take everywhere with him. And he actually drank that much every day, too. I don’t remember how he did at cooking, but it was good to have someone to do meals with.

One day, we went out shopping at the local market. This was the awesome market, the discount one. Kevin felt weird walking around, I think. I know that it was easy to think he was Japanese because of how he looked. Until he opened his mouth, at least. Anyways, at that market (ah yes, and it always was playing American music), he heard a bunch of people around him speaking Chinese, and he found out that there were actually a lot of Chinese in Tadotsu working at the docks. I’d seen four of those girls and even taken the same train with them from Zentsuji one. I could tell they weren’t Japanese from their behavior and language. Well, Kevin could communicate with these people. Though, it never went anywhere.

I felt less at ease praying out loud in the morning. That was one thing that was bad about it. My personal prayer life suffered a little because there was only a sliding door separating me and Kevin.

Oh yes, and it was so nice to have someone to walk by the barking dogs with me.

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