Japan: Japanese Society in Okuda Park

A Kaleidoscope of Japanese Society

It is 09:30 on a Sunday morning in July, and it is already hot and humid. As I pass through Okuda Park on my bicycle I remark that the grass needs cutting on the circular patch of green, 100 metres in diameter that constitutes the ‘park’. Backing onto the park there is an array of apartment blocks, arranged like a honeycomb of cells in an enormous white bee-hive. In front of them, a sweeping line of palm trees add a Mediterranean flavour.

The residents of the apartments make full use of their allotted open space. This morning there are several dog owners exercising their pets (small dogs predominantly); a group of elderly men are stripped to the waist doing their daily morning stretching exercises, continuing the routine which they acquired long ago, whilst employed by their company as “salarymen”.

Two elderly ladies are chatting under parasols which shade them from the heat, the parasols bobbing in time as they nod their heads at regular intervals as prescribed in polite Japanese conversation. On one of the green metal benches which circle the grass area, a homeless man lies asleep. All of his worldly goods are assembled about him in a collection of plastic bags. On the bench next to him, a young couple kiss and cuddle, apparently indifferent to his misfortune. On the grass, a young mother tries with difficulty to play football with her two energetic sons

Two perfectly manicured middle aged ladies pass by, wearing neatly pressed tennis outfits. As I look up, a short distance away I can see the roof of the Ito Yokado department store and the netting which covers its rooftop tennis courts

Two Japanese teenage girls pass by on their way to the beach. They are riding identical, new, silver-grey scooters. Barefoot, wearing brightly coloured shorts and T-shirts, they each have a small surf board wedged precariously in front of them, resting on the footboard. The surf board is kept upright by gripping it between their knees. Underneath their identical silver-grey, flat-rimmed crash helmets, their hair is dyed blond and their bare shoulders display a deep golden tan. As they speed past me, their long hair flutters gently in the breeze. They are a perfect picture of carefree affluence.

As quietly and inconspicuously as possible, a homeless man is washing his body with his handkerchief which he wets with water from a drinking fountain. To his left, suspended from the branch of a tree, his blue shirt and white socks have been hung out to dry in the morning sunshine. They too, flutter gently in the breeze.


Copyright © 2012-2013 Sannyasinman. All rights reserved

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