Isolation in Japan

When have I felt isolation in Japan?
Not in the train. Not in the warmth of the morning rush, standing with the other coma-quiet,
commuting bodies, white wires winding down from every ear. Outside observers may see weary,
worn workers, but within it is serene, a silent space, a place to meditate, to dream.
When have I felt isolation in Japan?
I feel it as I age. As I move further away from the typical, ink fresh on their diplomas, gap-year
group who see Japan as a place of adventure before their real life begins. I feel it whenever I
struggle to connect to my community, when my community is so young, so drunken, club-crazed,
when we lack even a generation in common.
When have I felt isolation in Japan?
Not in the flow of the unfamiliar – scenery, speech, seasons. Daily transit feels like travel.
There is the thud of taiko in my heart. Freed from distractions, I scribble or sleep as
incomprehensible conversations fade into white-noise. I eagerly await hanami drinks, kakigori,
maron cream cakes, Melty kiss and anything kikan gentei.
When have I felt isolation in Japan?
When I walk through customs in Coolangatta Airport, Gold Coast, Australia. When I feel the
awful, self-loathing taste of counter culture-shock, when everything at home seems strange,
frustrating, dirty, slow, bogan. When I realise the Australians I know in Japan, are different than the
Australians I meet in Australia. Have been changed, Japanised, readjusted, or brainwashed to better
fit their host culture, while slowly losing touch with their own. As have I.
When have I felt isolation in Japan?
Sometimes people are born into their homes. Sometimes they must move before they find
them. The guilt isolates my heart. Sometimes people you should have the most in common with fail
to. The frustration isolates my soul.
Then other times, while watching from a warm, well-timed train, the morning light paints
Osaka city into a picture. I don’t feel isolated. I feel that here, I fit. Firmly, fully, family. Finally.

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