Yes, as I was saying: I’ve been away, so how about filling me in?

19 09 2007
Japanese toilets: Kenny was right.

I’ve been feeling a little cut off from the rest of the world these past few week sans internet. It’s been difficult enough keeping up with goings on in Japan, given my workload and my inability to read or understand the language, and nigh-on impossible to keep up with happenings at home. I’ve been missing my mornings with Fran (of Radio National Breakfast fame)–in a platonic sense, you understand–which makes it all the more wonderful to finally have an internet connection and to be able to enjoy streaming audio. (I’ve been surviving off my collection of podcasts all this time–“life in the fast lane,” I know.)

Life in Japan has many advantages, of course. Two which spring immediately to mind are that I don’t care that the Eagles have been eliminated from the finals, and I don’t really care that Australia looks likely to be eliminated from the Twenty20 World Cup. It all just seems so trivial–and probably should have seemed as trivial when I was back in Australia.

Of course, living in Japan also means that I am living outside the Abrahamosphere. Japan is a religious country in its own way, and that is a topic I intend to investigate while I am living here, because I know so little about it. It’s just that the Japanese (yes, I know I’m generalising) don’t seem to feel as if they need to wear their faith on their sleeves; and–get this–their society manages to hold itself together, quite successfully I might add, in the absence of Jesus. Japan held a federal election last year, but to my knowledge there existed no Japanese Buddhist or Shinto Lobby that deemed itself (by virtue of its very religiosity) qualified to vet the ethical credentials of the contending parties’ leaders on national television. And it is actually possible to gaze from a lofty height across the skyline of a Japanese city and not see a single spire, cross, or minaret–and yet somehow, amazingly, the citizens manage to make it through a single day, even many single days, without raping and killing each other!!! Go figure.

Needless to say (but I’ll say it nonetheless), it sounds like paradise to me. (The intolerable summer heat and humidity is quite another matter.) But I do have a favour to ask. During my sojourn in the land of adzuki bean-flavoured frappacinos, I fear that I’ve become quite ignorant of matters religious, political, politico-religious and religio-political in Australia, the US and elsewhere. What’s been happening?

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