“Tachishon” -What we shouldn’t be teaching our kids

Author: mirai  //  Category: All Posts, Comic relief, Life in general, Politics, Rants and Raves

 

I have been in Japan for nearly 20 years now, and still, not a day goes by where something doesn’t shock or amaze me.  And today is no different.  But before I go into my rant over the event that shocked and amazed me, I will need to give a bit of some background info into the culture of child raising in Japan.

 

In Japan, there is this weird and frankly very disgusting culture of urinating in public.  Of course, many people here find it to be a lewd and completely repulsive habit, but at the same time it has been accepted as social norm in this country.  As a matter of fact, many parents even go as far as encouraging (yes…ENCOURAGING) young boys to pee in public.  When little Taro wants to go pee, usually the mother (yes MOTHER…keeping it real) who would escort the boy to a nearby bush, wall, or ally -or even sometimes right out in the open for everyone to see, pull down his pants, and encourage him to pee shamelessly while others watch.  Go ahead Taro, mommy’s too tired (and lazy) to take you to a restroom and teach you the proper place to urinate.  Fast forward 30 years, and now this young boy is a middle aged man who thinks it’s okay pee anywhere he sees fit, like a stray dog marking his territory, because that is what he was taught to do.

 

A few years back, I remember reading this story about a man who had urinated in the same elevator at train station EVERY DAY for nearly six months.  He had caused over one million yen (or ten thousand US dollars) damage to the elevator after it corroded beyond repair.  Can you imagine having to use that elevator and the unbearable stench it must have created?  The funny part is that he had the nerve to dispute the cost of the repairs in court, siting that many of the urine-damaged parts should have been recycled.   If I were the judge, I would have given him some jail time in addition to several months of community service for being a public menace.

 

You may be thinking that this is an extreme case, and perhaps it is, but I can also testify that urination in public is a regular occurrence.  If you don’t believe me, I would be happy to escort you to the ally next to my grandmother’s house which was apparently a favorite peeing venue for those who would drink at nearby pubs and bars, and wanted to quickly relieve themselves outdoors.  Fortunately, those pubs and bars have gone away over the years, but the rancid odor from past patrons still exists.  And on any given night in Shinjuku or Shibuya, its almost a certainty that you will see a drunk or perhaps sober man urinating in public somewhere.

 

So by now you are probably wondering what this event is that’s got me up in arms.  Well, tonight as I was walking home from work, and hiking up the long flight of stairs leading up to our neighborhood Shinto Shrine, I heard an election campaign van for Masako Shirai, a local assembly person for the Japan Communist Party (I kid you not -this is real), blaring her name and campaign slogans from the loud speakers on the top of van.  Not knowing why this van was even parked there, I was initially pretty irritated that this woman would make such a racket in #1. an otherwise very quiet and uneventful neighborhood, especially so late in the evening, and #2. parked right in front of a Shinto Shrine.  I am not a religious person, but I do take offense to those who disrespect a sacred site such as this.  A lot of people take that Shrine pretty seriously and to disgrace it with noisy campaign rhetoric spewing from loud speakers is pretty deplorable and disrespectful.

 

As I got to the top of the stairs, I spotted the van immediately and walked towards it.  I wanted to tell the people who were campaigning in that spot to move to a different location because they were obviously disturbing the peace.  The loud speakers were really that loud.  But as I got closer to van, I immediately noticed that no one was in it.  The repetitive campaign slogan and the calling out of Masako Shirai’s name was on tape which was infinitely looping. Arg!  What a major annoyance and no one to complain to about it, I thought to myself.  I looked around the van, and at first it appeared to be completely abandoned despite it running with all of its lights on, and the loud speaker going.

 

As I came around to the other side of the van, that’s when I spotted HIM.  A small little man who appeared to be in his 60’s or 70’s wearing a Masako Shirai campaign jacket facing away from me and towards a pile of leaves in front of the Shrine.  It was quite obvious what he was doing, so I waited until he was finished.

 

As he finished up and pulled up his pants, he turned around and spotted me standing next to the campaign van.  I glared at him in anger, and before I even said a word, he began apologizing profusely.  I pointed to the Shrine, and explained to him that little kids play in the very spot he just urinated on.  I also told him that he was repulsive and that a man his age, wearing a campaign jacket, and driving a campaign van that endorsed a public official should be ashamed of himself.  I then pointed to a life sized picture of Masako Shirai that was plastered on a large sign on top of the van, highlighted by no less than 10 spot lights, and asked the man, do you think she would approve of you defacing my neighborhood and a religious monument.  He bowed deeply and again apologized profusely.  I then told him never to come to this neighborhood again EVER, or I will write a very lengthy letter to Ms. Shirai  and perhaps her opponent, about his actions tonight.

 

He crawled into his van sped off quickly in shame.    I didn’t want to be so hard, but I was genuinely irritated that this man would drive into my neighborhood and just pull down his pants and pee -disrespecting our local landmark which is respected by many of the residents in our neighborhood.  I hope it teaches him that we are not his toilet and to think carefully the next time he has the urge to relieve himself in a place other than a toilet.