February 2, 2018
I live on Japan’s southernmost island, Kyushu. I’m living in Ichikikushikino City, Kagoshima Prefecture. Some people might write our city as Ichiki-Kushikino as it merged Ichiki Town and Kushikino City in 2005.
Japan is now facing population declining society and concentrated in Tokyo, so the population in our city is declining every year, from 35,000 in 2005 to 28,450 in these 13 years.
I’m working at local city office, belonging to policy planning division and taking charge of international exchange. Kyushu is warmer and more tropical than much of Japan. Our part of Japan is known for making shochu (an alcohol distilled primarily from barley and sweet potatoes).
It is very important to the economy of Kyushu that we sell more of our products. This morning I had a meeting about that. But it made me feel depressed. We were supposed to be sharing information on how to better market local specialties—such as shochu and satsuma-age (fried fish cake)—overseas. But the meeting was totally destroyed by those called “Local Vitalization Cooperators.” Our city office have five cooperators, four out of them attended the meeting on that day. It’s one of the Japanese government’s policies to liven up the countrysides by dispatching variety of people from city, to breathe fresh life into country. But the government don’t check their character enough. The people they hire do whatever they like with bragging they’re from big cities and always right. There are lots of failure with this issue all over Japan, although there are good result in some cities. For me and some others, they just seem self-centered and uncooperative.
Some attendees like H, who is always saying “don’t deny others’ opinions,” and M, who’s always saying “be loose, cheerful and boisterous” shared their nonsense opinions. They said they did not get the purpose of this meeting, and the meeting lost the original purpose of sharing information with all who are concerned about how to better sell products. F, who is one of the most affected person as he is considered to be an avant-garde from big city by most participants of the meeting who were brought up in this small city, said, “Making a group on Facebook to share information would be the best way to stay caught up all the time, as this kind of monthly meeting isn’t enough to share information.” I finally said, “I can’t believe it, as there are a lot of things which are still confidential. Sharing information on the office network is not confidential.” The meeting ended.
The best way for me to release stress on such a day is to drive fast to Kagoshima City for half an hour and join a Jazzercise class at 8 p.m. It’s the coldest season of the year here, and it was only three degrees Celsius. The rain had changed to sleet that morning.
The instructor was my favorite, K. Her leading is always perfect and she has an ideal figure with no unnecessary fat no matter how much curry and ramen she eats. I’m so envious because she eats as much as I do and is the same height at 5′4″. Tonight’s lesson contained rather difficult mambo steps, but I acted as if I liked it although it was bit difficult. But afterwards I felt refreshed, then I warmed myself up with shochu diluted with hot water and went to bed. It was perfect.
The next morning, I was woken up early by the annoying sound of ringtones. I was surprised as those ringtones were made by F, who already formed a group and some of the members already responded “good.” This annoyed me so I went to sleep again. I got up at nine and left the TV on and watched some of a weekend entertainment show as usual; a painter girl who was made beautiful by professional stylists and makeup artists.
I was surprised to see that it was 9:40, so I quickly got ready and hurried to a new nail salon which just opened, the first in this town. The beautiful nail artist, as well as the owner, came from Tokyo. “Well, I was in London for a year when I was a student,” she said. “What? I was there too! Only about a month, though,” I replied. While we were talking a loud and creepy warning sound blew from our cell phones. It made us think an earthquake’s coming, and we looked at our phone screens saying “scary, scary!” but it was just a test as a part of an annual evacuation drill. Our city is situated next to a nuclear power plant, so the drill is done in case of accidents. I kept talking to the nailist, and found we’re the same age. What a coincidence! I hit it off with her, which doesn’t happen so often. We promised that we’ll have drinking party later.
It was almost noon. I was wondering what I want to get, and decided to go to Taiwanese restaurant which also opened the other day. The waitresses are all from China. I love their broken Japanese which makes it seem promising that they’ll serve genuine Taiwanese cuisine. “But what is ‘Goma-yaki (sesame fry),’ today’s special?” I asked. I ordered it with regular sized Taiwanese noodles for only 100 yen additional charge. They came just five minutes later. The loud conversation between the waitress and kitchen made me feel like I’m in Taiwan. I got full.
I found that the post office closed soon, and I needed to go there to get a new credit card today. My T-card magnet is too weak to read, maybe because I overuse it at the neighborhood convenience store, so I asked to make a new one. I want it as soon as I can so that my payments go smoothly. Come to think of the post office process, it’s getting more and more strict. I remember they didn’t accept my driver’s license, saying, “It’s not a valid ID because it doesn’t bear sex,” while I wore a blouse and skirt. Times have changed in a strange way.
I met my downstairs neighbor friend H when I returned home. She was about to run to the vegetable field behind our apartment. “Finally found the grandpa working in the field! I need to talk to him to get his permission if the internet cable can cut across his field!” she said. So I didn’t talk to her, even though we usually have long conversations.
I got back to my apartment. It was two degrees C. This winter is much colder than usual. We’ll have another snowy day tomorrow. I got a sudden chat message from S, who I usually don’t hear from as she places priority on her boyfriend. She said, “I’m going to have a wedding party in May. Let me know your home address because I want to send an invitation.”