More Time There Than Home
I spent nearly 20 years in Japan. I probably have more interesting stories to tell of living there than of living here in the US.
Our first winter there had nearly 7 feet of snow!
A major event in my life happened in Nagasaki. There are pre- and existing PTSD stories to tell. All in due time.
I first went to the land of the rising sun because Uncle Sam sent me there.
I stayed because I married a Japanese girl. We launched a school there and it grew to two islands and two countries - Japan and the then USSR!
There were no hot dogs in Japan when I got there in 1980.
Apple pie looked like apple pie but did not taste like apple pie. The crust was more for looks, heavy on the egg paste, and the apple innards tasted like apple. Americans like when the crust tastes like flaky bread and the center tastes like sugar with a hint of apple. That wasn't Japan. It also explains why most of them are half my size, too.
Baseball has got to be the same. So, I thought. After all it was imported from the US. The Tokyo Giants' uniforms looked like the SF Giants. The Hiroshima Carp uniforms could have been swapped out for the the Cincinnati Reds. Ah! Baseball! A taste of home, finally. So, I thought.
But ... BUT ... at the time, Japan had a limit on how late they could show baseball games on TV. No kidding. Cross my heart and hope to die, I cannot remember how many times I watched a game into the 9th inning, sometimes the top and a lot of times the bottom. when the TV announcer would say, "Kore de, jikan desu." And the game would be turned off. Everybody would head to their radios (remember those?) to listen to the end of the game.
"Bottom of the 9th. Two on. Two out. Score is 4-3. The count is 3 balls and two strikes. Kore de, jikan desu." I swear that's true. Over and over again. The numbers changed a little. I got so irritated, I stopped watching. I gave up on baseball and started watching sumo.
Yokozuna, Ozeki, Seikwake, Komusubi, Maegashira. Chiyonofuji, Konoshiki ... and more.
One hundred percent in Japanese and NEVER, ever, cut off. Six times a year for 15 days.
My eyes became accustomed to reading Japanese kanji by watching sumo. I was cool at any coffee shop as the foreigner (gaijin) who could discuss sumo in detail with anyone there.
Until one day. My friend, Toyama-san, told me, "It's rigged." inchiki.
For the next six or seven matches, he called every match. Six for six or seven for seven. Japanese sumo is rigged. We just don't always know in which way.
He broke my heart.
That day was the last time I watch sumo.
I took up rock climbing and decided to cheat death instead of sumo.