2010年8月25日水曜日

Hi, how old are you?

Every year on Respect for the Aged Day (third Monday in September) our neighbourhood host a part for all those over 75. Why 75? Probably because if we dropped it any lower we'd have everyone on the sitting side and noone on the serving side but anyway Matsumoto City gives us some money each year to buy gifts for the oldies. Exciting gifts like towels and pot scourers and mini bottles of sake.

So the neighbourhood committee got money x54 old people. Only for privacy reasons we weren't told which 54 people. So we don't know who to invite....

So the guessing games have started:

What about Mr N?
Hmmm, he retired from the water board after I retired so he's probably younger than me.....

Mrs K?
Hmmmm, I'll ask her daughter in law at work today...

Mrs W?
Ahhhh, definitely old enough but I think she is still registered at her old house....

And you see that's where it gets complicated. In Japan everyone is registered to a domicile at city hall. That's how tax is paid and health insurance dependants are organised and a million other beaurocratic things. But sometimes old people move in with their children and leave their address at their former house. Which means the city doesn't realise/ recognise that they live where they do. And so they are not provided for in the community respect for the aged day money.

Which means the neighbourhood committee are reduced to supersleuthing as they try and work out the 54 old people who are registered as living here. Not all of whom actually live here. And some of whom appear to be living here but aren't actually.

Some are relatively simple to work out- the family with not one, not two but three grandparents in residence and both kids in fulltime daycare? Definitely unregistered oldies as city hall wouldn't ok daycare with that many hands on deck to look after the kids.

Some are more of a grey area. Did the woman who moved in with her son and his family after the death of her husband 'until she gets used to not having him around' four years ago finally admit to herself she's here for good and officially move or is she still 'just visiting'? And how do you broach the subject tactfully?

And what about the people of indiscriminate age?

The round about way:
Ahhh neighbour. Look at the clean neat lines of your cabbage crop. You surely must be born in the year of the horse. No? The rooster then? The snake? The sheep?

The slip it into the conversation way:
Hey neighbour! How about this weather, huh? Raking it in in the tomato business this year, huh? By the way- how old are you anyway?

The straight up way:
Hi, how old are you?

Hey it works for kids yeah.......


4 件のコメント:

anchan さんのコメント...

A timely subject! ;-) I'm wondering exactly how many of Japan's registered elderly turn out to be dead... The reports are getting more and more amusing, yesterday told of a missing 152 year old!

jojoebi さんのコメント...

anchan beat me to it, I was going add how many are registered, the family are collecting money but grannies is actually dead, mummified and shoved in a suitcase in the attic?

achan さんのコメント...

So Mrs Fukase "how old are you?" will you be on the sitting or the serving side?

...I love how city hall shares every other detail of life with everyone but won't tell you who's to get the presents.

gaijinwife さんのコメント...

good luck with that then. What a mission. Happy serving.