He' a guy.
Some day he's going to be an old man.
And the old Japanese men I know tend to be rather trying to be around. There's the king type: "Heather, heather! Tea, tea!" As he waves his cup at me while sitting down digesting the meal I cooked, served, cleared away and have yet to eat myself.
There's the waffling drunk type who don't open their mouths wide enough to enunciate clearly even when sober and decide to have long and involved conversations with me when drunk.
There's the know-it-all type who decide to educate me on Australia. "There's two men for every woman in Australia. There's only one road in Australia. Australian's only use their washing machines once a week- I saw it all on TV, it's all true!" Try as I might I will never convince them otherwise. Then again they at least get points for remembering I'm Australian. I have been quizzed on US gun laws, governmental agriculture support and how the president is elected more times than I care to remember despite emphatically stating that I am Australian and have no US experience past having been stuck in LA airport for 6 hours once. And it was under construction which was seen as a security threat so we weren't even allowed to walk around and explore.
So yeah, I am still looking for a positive old man role model for K. Each interaction I have with the old men here makes me more and more worried. The three I've had in the last week:
Just do it man
Just do it man lives in a huge and very extravagant house on a side road here. He was a Japanese garden landscaper until he retired and started spending all his time doing up his own garden. It looks amazing. His garden butts onto a deserted mini shrine. I don't know what their official title is but they are dotted around the place here. A big shrine gate at the road, a narrow path then something about the size of a pigeon coop as the shrine. The shrine is surrounded by huge pine trees. The trees seem to have something to do with the shrine as they are encircled with straw ropes and white paper. Whoever the priest was who used to look after the shrine is no longer around and the neighbourhood association now looks after it. This basically means weed-whacking, raking leaves in Autumn and replacing the straw and paper decorations when they rot. Just do it man has another job he wants done though. He wants the big trees removed. All of them. Because they're dangerous. They could fall down and hit his garden. Not his house- his garden. He comes over about once a month to harangue K on this point. The neighbourhood association is reluctant to remove the trees as a) they are not really dangerous (but just do it man's garden would get a lot more sun without them) and b) the neighbourhood association is merely the guardian of the shrine. It's a murky area to start removing stuff. But yeah, he was hear again right on tea time Sunday night looking for a progress report and he left with a cheery goodnight and the phrase 'just get it done.'
Life's tough for some man
Life's tough for some man is straight out of a British sitcom. He has the flashy house, the shocking dress sense- a big fan of the pull your pants right up to your armpits brigade, the inflated sense of self-importance, the habit of speaking in long and winding sentences with no clear point and the charging around the neighbourhood looking terribly busy but just faffing around and getting in the way of the real workers. He is the biggest tomato producer in the neighbourhood. A fact he will proudly tell anyone within 30 seconds of being introduced. This year he has planted one trillion tomato plants. (I think. one cho worth anyway. A billion? A thousand billion? A trillion? A freaking huge number of tomato plants anyway.) Obviously he and his wife can't do all the planting and spraying (and spraying and spraying) and picking by themselves so he has a small army of casual workers working for him. Tomato prices have been pretty bad these last few years and a lot of the smaller producers have taken on part time jobs to supplement their income. So they work in the town, race home, try and do all the tomato work before it gets too dark then wake up the next day and do it all over again. So sitting around listening to Mr Life's tough for some bitch and moan about the problems of managing labourers, how much time he spends in his truck racing between his 10 or so fields, did he mention he's done one trillion plants this year? etc etc etc is a bit galling. And he seems completely oblivious to the feelings of the people listening to his diatribes. Anyway, he is building his son a fancy new house at the back of his land. It's huge, will command views of the entire Matsumoto Valley and as we were all informed (repeatedly) he didn't even need to get a loan. Just moved some money around. Well, seems a few more people than he hoped heard about the money manoeuvring. The local tax department paid him a visit. Ouch. Now he's hopping mad and all woe is me to anyone who'll listen at having to pay horrendous amounts of tax. Life's tough for some, hey?
Mr You can't help me but listen to my complaint anyway.
Quite a number of people who come to our door ask for Fukase-san. When I say "Yes, that's me." They look troubled and say "No, Fukase-san." Oh, right. Forgot I was an imposter... So they want K. Who is invariably not home. So I offer to take a message. No, no, no, no... not necessary.... but.... and that's when I get to hear the entire problem. Friday it was the phone bill for the community centre. Slightly tipsy old man waving NTT bill in his hand asked for Fukase-san. Not here. Can I take a message? No no no no. Have him call you when he gets home? no no no no. Give you his work number? No no no no. .... "See this is the bill for the community centre. It's got your name on it." "Yes. we're doing it this year." "Well the street number is wrong." "Sorry for the inconvenience, I'll take it from you, tell K the problem and make sure it's fixed before next month." "No no no no." "This bill came to my address." He was waiving it around like he was bidding at an auction as he waffled on for a good 5 minutes about how the address and postcode were fine but the street number was wrong." Finally said I had to go get my kids their dinner so I needed to go but could I have the letter to pass on to K? "No no no no. I'll take it down to the other guy who should be doing this job." AGHHHHGHHHHH!!! Give me back the last 10 minutes of my life!
So yeah. While I love living here I think we'll have to retire to Australia to avoid K becoming a Japanese old man...