Yesterday was sports day for the school. It was good to see the kids having fun, but combined with the after-sports day party with the teachers, I feel exquisitely awful today. And yet, we continue to fight.
So the crowning irony of living in Japan, in my opinion, is that I’m more isolated as an anime fan than ever before. Manga is ubiquitous, of course, and everyone knows the long-running children’s shows, but that’s about the extent of things. The other foreign teachers are a little more hip to my game, but I still feel like I need to tread very carefully around the subject. I don’t want to be branded a geek with the few people that I could call a support network.
The problem with that is that anime is, or was, a significant part of my social life. I like to watch it and keep up with the latest news, but most importantly I like to TALK about it. Face to face, sitting in comfy chairs with a pot of tea or coffee is the way I prefer it, but simply the pleasure of interacting with another anime fan is important. It’s refreshing. I don’t have access to that here.
The other day I was visiting a shrine, and it was explained to me (by a white girl from Michigan—go figure) that the torii gates you see in front of every shrine function as holistic gateways. What this means is that once you step through the torii, not only have you formally entered the world of the kami, but you have also stepped into the shared universe of every shrine ever built. Each one of Shinto’s sacred spaces is literally the same place, forming a kind of spiritual network that keeps Japan together.
How is that related? Well, I’m just thinking about blogging, about the Internet in general and what it does for me in this profoundly quiet part of Japan. If you’re reading this entry, it doesn’t matter if you’re in Japan, America or Singapore. The ani-blogosphere, too, is a kind of holistic space, a virtual convention ground. Once we log onto our computer gateways, we can all interact in a shared digital universe over anime, where the only distance is one of words.
And you know, that helps a little bit. For now, at least, I can get by on that.
The images in this post are from Kamichu!, a truly delightful anime. If we happen to meet in person, let’s talk about it. I might even buy you a cup of coffee. How’s that for generosity?