Friday I got an email from someone who wants me to teach Japanese to a girl in Wisconsin by email and phone. This contact person told me she had visited Yokosuka Naval Base during the 1980's when serving in the Navy.
Her mentioning Yokosuka reminded me that Laura and I visited Yokosuka a number of times when we lived in Yokohama. The base seemed like such a "foreign" country from the Japanese perspective, with streets that ran in straight lines, American-style lawns of green grass, tanks displayed decoratively as sculpture, streets named after General Pershing, etc.
We had friends there: one, Mrs. Paul Alff, a librarian at the DODS (Department of Defense) school, another, Caroline Willey, married to a naval chaplain. They used to get us "essentials" that we couldn't buy in Japanese stores--Tide detergent being one of the most important. Also, only people with base privileges could get turkey at Thanksgiving.
Prices at the PX were much, much cheaper than prices in Japanese stores. Military people are paid very little; so they have to have access to necessities at lower prices. Their housing, much more spacious than Japanese housing, was much cheaper as well.
A friend wrote to me that she didn't recognize the blog because she thought "nikki" was a personal name or epithet. I explained that it means "daily writing," in other words, diary or journal. There are a number of famous "nikki" from Japanese literature of the Heian Period (9th and 10th centuries) and later eras.It has just occurred to me that I've been following tradition without consciously deciding to do so, the tradition being travel narrative and personal reflection interspersed with poems.In the case of Matsuo Basho's "Narrow Road to the Interior," the poems are by him (17th century), and they are masterpieces. I've been borrowing other people's masterpieces.
Thinking of what the summer is going to be like in Yokohama, I'm going to include a waka by Masaoka Shiki (1867-1902):
"tree with lush leaves
at an outdoor fair
to a goldfish seller
as summer begins"
(That is the translation by Ueda Makoto in the edition I have.)
wakaba sasu ichi no ueki no shi ta kage ni kingyo akinau natsu wa kinikeri
Tora-san, the main character in the Otoko Ga Tsurai Yo film series, was just the kind of guy who might have sold goldfish at those outdoor fairs. The poem made me think of him. Also, there were goldfish being sold near Kamakura's Tsuru-ga-oka Hachiman-gu Shrine, when I took Evanston kids to Japan years ago.