So I mentioned that I prefer urban aesthetics to rural.
Enter Kumamoto City.
Just outside of idyllic Kashima is the metropolis of the prefecture, thankfully only 30 minutes away by bus. I think my interviewers gathered I should be placed near an urban center; I don’t think I could handle 24/7 countryside.
As much as I appreciate natural beauty OR WHATEVER I’ve always had an odd proclivity for…the unnatural, shall we say. I’ll take concrete and crossing signs over fields and mountains any day.
I couldn’t say why. Maybe it’s the energy, the presence of other people; the architecture, the infrastructure.
The feeling of life in every restaurant and storefront, the streetlights, the passers-by.
Maybe this is all a huge allegory for my being superficial rather than “down to earth” or what have you.
Maybe I just fucking like lights and buildings.
One of the things I like about cities in general is the anonymity. You can pass hundreds or thousands of people a day and no one would ever think twice about you. Wouldn’t even notice you.
That doesn’t happen here.
In a city this small, in a prefecture this rural, foreigners don’t go unnoticed. You can’t walk through a crowd without turning heads – even if you’re not blonde, pierced, and tattooed. I might be overly sensitive to this, over aware of this othering gaze, and there are times I squirm under it.
But I’m getting used to it. I like Kumamoto City despite it – and Japan despite it. In a way I came here precisely to become the subject of such stares, spreading intercultural awareness and all that.
If nothing else it’s given me the balls to take more pictures. You can only be hyper self-conscious for so long before you stop giving a fuck about who’s staring or why and you start doing whatever you want.
Like blocking traffic to take 3000 photos of the street. Whoops.