I now know…
…why Old Japanese men and women stoop. You see, everything in this country is small. And by small, I mean short. Sure, there are things small in other ways, such as the “narrow” streets, the “skinny” girls, and the “relatively little” amount of attention paid to passersby downtown; but the largest supply of “small” here is in the “short” category, of which there is ironically, no short-age. Hehe.
I’ll admit, it’s weird being the tallest person in the world (…of Japan ^_^), a fact I only recently began to understand, and that makes things a little extra-short for me but still, all the Japanese people I’ve seen at sinks, counters, tables, and chairs are stooping, bowing, bending, or just plain residing in a position which just plain can’t be good for their back. The stove is low, te sink is level with the stove, the toilet is excessively low (a fact which scares the ah, …um… uh… well it scares something out of me), the doorways, the hangers in stores, freaking everything is low! Short! Squat! Elevation impaired! They all have a certain, “How’s the weather down there”-ness.
…how the Jolly Green Giant feels, walking through a shopping mall. We went there yesterday to look at pricing on phones (hehe… it’s VERY nice, but I have to wait for Tuesday or Wednesday to get one) and I noticed that there’s a lot of things that are rather, ah, shall we say, “not tall”?… Anyway, I thought it was weird, because since I’ve gotten here, I’d had the distinct feeling that the people here really weren’t all THAT short compared to me, I mean after all, I’m no giant amongst Americans as is weighing in at a whopping 5’9”; but then it occurred to me to look around a bit more. I’d spent my time thus far with mostly other kids from CIEE, and a couple ambassadors, mostly girls, and one or two guys. But nothing seemed too out of the ordinary to me. I mean, girls are ALWAYS shorter, yah? And there are guys shorter than I just as there are guys taller, so I never really thought about it.
But then I started LOOKING at people, not as people, but as objects that had a height, and I found that I was, in fact, the SINGLE tallest entity next to the columns which held up the building. >.< It was… disturbing at best. Suddenly I started searching desperately (which, for me means actively, but not in a life-threatening sort of way ~_^) for someone who was at least CLOSE to my size… but to no avail. And then I became very self-conscious! Like, what if I bump into one of these poor, unsuspecting people! Here I am, a giant in a world of normal people, and I could take or do whatever I wanted, because, well, I’m huge!!! But that’s not my goal! I’m a friendly giant! I want to be good!
But I mean, heaven forbid I should by accident knock one of these people sideways! I might kill them! The might go flying across the shopping center! And that would make me a monster… a horrible, gigantic, white monster… *cries* …with abnormally curly hair, to make it all the more frightening.
I felt large in other ways. I’m sure my american biceps are like tree trunks when viewed with Japanese eyes, and my chest like a brick wall! (Well, a slightly flabby brick wall, but I meant it more like “broad” than “hard”…) My eyes so wide and full that I can suck their poor, hidden souls right out of their bodies!
Good God, what have I become since coming to Japan? Must every giant in a land of little people invariably become a monster? A monster, that thing which he (or she) most despises in his own land? Is it the fate of every gargantuan to be forced to risk everything every time the take a step or pass someone on the street?
The answer, they say, is blowing in the wind. So in order to more rabidly find the answer, I have increased my breathing rate by around 3 breaths per minute. Also, Japan has reported having more wind of late. I think they’re not connected events. *crosses fingers*
…why Japanese children grow up being so mature. Every day that they leave the house they take their life into their own hands. You try taking that risk from the time you’re 5, and we’ll see how quickly you grow up, shall we?
That’s right, the streets here are littered with danger. First (and I may have said this already), there are no sidewalks in and around the neighborhoods. That’s right, no sidewalks. Every street down which you walk is like a gauntlet of cars. Sure, the cars don’t come all the time, but invariably, they will come. Oh yes, they will come! Heh. They even give you a bike, sometimes, to help you THINK you can outrun the damn things. But you just can’t, confound it all! You just can’t!
They even play recorded messages to drivers (whose windows are most likely up due to the hot weather, so they probably can’t hear it anyway) telling them that school just got out, and so be careful driving, to try to NOT hit any small children.
Also, they teach children methods of escaping murderers. That’s right, they teach ELEMENTARY school children how to successfully escape from someone who, having a knife, decides he’s going to run you down and stab you to death. You see, about 6 or 9 (or whatever number they said) years ago, there was a guy in Osaka who decided it would be fun to do just that. Afterwards everyone was so scared to let their children out that they started teaching the kids what streets to turn down and which ones not to, and maybe the occasional tactic or two for avoidance.
I have two things to say on this: First, if a grown man decides to overtake an elementary schooler, odds are he’s gonna win. Period. Unless he’s completely stupid (which I won’t rule out, I mean they did catch the guy), he’s gonna do it. The physics and leg lengths (though his are rather shorter than mine… Maybe an AMERICAN elementary schooler could outrun a homicidal Japanese man…)
Second, how scared do you think this makes these kids? To know that somewhere out there, some day, they may have to USE these tactics to escape from a grown man with a knife, and that they probably won’t make it anyway? Holy crap! It’s like… It’s like… It’s like knowing you’re a guy with a red shirt in the original Star Trek! Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but someday, you’re gonna get it! Especially so when they’re announcing that your school just got out, so the homicidal maniacs know when to wake up every afternoon! >.<
Things like this will really make you grow up quick, as you realize your mortality. It’s no WONDER they stay inside all day playing video games instead of baseball at a park. (Oh yeah, and the parks are too small anyway.)
I was asked today, “When you and your brothers fought, what did your mother tell you?” My response, of course, was, “Usually she’d stop it if it was serious, or else she’d tell us to take it outside.” The response (from the lady who happened to be a mother)? “Shoot, if I told them to take it outside they’d get hit by a car!” …And she laughed. Yes, laughed. She laughed at the idea that her children would get hit by a car were they to do something such as fight outside the house.
By the way, Mom, I love you. ^_^