why a grown-up like him sneaked a kid’s snack

It’s common in Japan that a child remains at a parents’ house after going on to college or starting to work at an office, or even after marrying. That had been my family’s tradition for a very long time and as a result, we lived in the exact spot where our ancestors had lived, without moving for hundreds of years, because a firstborn should have stayed in the parents’ house. That had lasted until one particular firstborn broke the tradition by leaving the house; that was me. So, my grandparents, my parents, my uncle, my younger sister and I had all lived together when I was little. This uncle of mine is my father’s younger brother and he was such a trouble some existence when we lived together. He constantly teased me and stole from me. My biggest pleasure back then was to get a snack at a nearby small candy shop after school with my scarce allowance. But the snack was often gone the moment I put the bag in the house and looked away from it. My uncle would eat it. I never understood why a grown-up like him sneaked a kid’s snack. He brought me a toy whenever he went on a trip or out for an errand. Even so, his daily plunder harmed goodwill, and I earnestly wished he would leave the house as soon as possible…

other self was born inside me

I have two different personalities inside myself. They’re in stark contrast with each other and that often confuses me. I know fame and money would do no good and I try to live only in order to make good music, nothing else. But my other self always wants to live in Monaco and own a Formula One team. It sneers at my way of living and makes me feel miserable. I vividly remember the moment this other self was born inside me. It was when I was in the second grade. Until then, I hadn’t talked to anyone but my family members, all through the years of kindergarten and the first grade at elementary school. To me, people outside my family were all evil and stupid. I despised them for some reason, and ignored them, as I didn’t want to be one of them. As a result, my social life as a child was atrocious. Because of my attitude, other kids constantly picked on me, slandered and bad-mouthed. I was always alone and loathed school so much that I couldn’t sleep every night of schooldays. I sensed that I couldn’t live like this any longer. I was about to be broken like a machine with no lubricant, and couldn’t stand it anymore. I knew the way to make my life easier was to become one of them. After long deliberation, I came to a decision, and my other self was born. I started talking to people, laughing with them, playing with them, by enduring the foolishness. I became popular and my school life turned into a less nightmare although my true self was very unhappy. Now I’ve grown up and chosen to live as my true self. Still, my other half disturbs me once in a while by craving fame and money. Am I really sure that other self isn’t my true self? What if the other self is true me…?

my dream is to live on a mascot planet

I’m very fond of stuffed animals. They have been my best friends since early childhood. For me, seeing a mascot moving around means my friend stuffed animal tribe comes to life and that always gives me great pleasure. I record and burn on a DVD when I see a mascot on TV, and go to him or her to say hello when I see one at a theme park, a supermarket or a drug store, by plowing through other kids. In Japan, the number of mascots has been increasing lately, with all sorts of a kind. Most of them are mascots of unknown, minor characters, opposite to famous characters such as Mickey Mouse, Snoopy or Hello Kitty. Whether famous or not, more mascots are greatly welcomed to me, as my dream is to live on a mascot planet. But Japanese people especially seem to like minor characters among others. A lot of companies, municipalities, campaigns and movements have introduced their original mascots and it’s a trend. Unlike famous mascots from professional sports teams and theme parks, their characteristics are somehow loosely defined, their looks aren’t so refined, and they’re only known to a limited number of people. Even so, they’re booming enough to have established their own category as ‘unrefined characters’. And that seems the key to appeal to Japanese people most. This trend may reflect their subconscious about living in an undefined, unrefined country…

desperate loneliness with these old memories

I had a dream last night that my mother left me in a shopping mall to enjoy shopping just with my younger sister. The sensation I felt in the dream was so familiar that I recalled the similar experiences in my real life. Since I started junior high school, my parents and my sister had often gone out without me because my school was far from home and I came home late every day. As I got furious each time when they came back, they usually lied that they went out just for an errand. But I always knew they went shopping together or in a worse case, visited my favorite grandparents’ house without me. The main reason I could see through their deceit was because they bought something for my sister when going out, and I often found it later in her room, as the evidence. In my theory, parents should get something for a child they leave at home, but my parents do the opposite and get something for a child they are taking with them. And the luckier one who got into the car with my parents for fun was always my sister who came home much earlier from elementary school. I can’t count how many times I shouted a word ‘unfair’ to my parents. Sometimes, they even ate out just three of them and still pretended that they hadn’t had dinner yet. At dinnertime of those occasions, they had strangely little appetite while I was starving. My mother repeated, ‘It’s weird. I’m not hungry tonight’, and my sister followed suit. Only my father tried to eat his second dinner for the night, contorting with fullness. Their acts were so poor that anyone could tell they had already eaten. But no matter how hard I demanded, my mother kept lying. I can still feel some sort of desperate loneliness with these old memories…

I feel like a fugitive

Japan has a census every five years and now it’s the time. Back in my hometown, the chair or a leader of the area used to be entrusted with distribution and collection of the forms for the whole block as voluntary work. Then, the forms would be handed to the area’s public office by him or her. When my father took charge of it, he looked through all the forms after collecting them for possible errors in filling them out, that was also one of the responsibilities. But, as he was checking errors in the forms, he inevitably acquired neighbors’ personal information, such as the income, the family members, the work place, and the academic background. I felt extremely unpleasant about it. After I left my hometown and was on my own, I had never submitted a census, as I knew what a person who came to collect the form did with my form. Probably because of the similar complaints, the government has changed rules for this year’s census. They hired people to distribute and collect the forms and the form should be sealed by a person who filled it out. With this way, the personal information should be protected from some neighbor. Instead, the form collection person is persistent ever, now that it’s a job. They keep coming up to my apartment and even call after me on the streets in the neighborhood. I go out sneakily, looking around for a collection person. I feel like a fugitive every day…

I was over the moon

During the construction of my family’s new house, many contractors and carpenters came and worked every day. As we lived in barns as a makeshift home at the edge of the construction site, I saw them regularly and had a crush on one of the carpenters. He would come to work by car and pass under a pedestrian bridge at the almost exact time every morning. I used the bridge to the elementary school, and every morning when I was walking on the bridge, his car passed beneath it. I waved at him and he waved back at me every time. One day, while I was hanging around near the construction site, he came up to me and handed me a key chain in which miniature playing cards were contained. He said it was a small gift for me. I was over the moon. But, that was the last time I saw him. Because the construction company executive ran away with all the money my family had paid, the pay for the workers stopped. The construction was abandoned and no one came to work anymore. Only a carpenter with craftsmanship who carved beautiful patterns on the wooden thresholds came to continue his work without pay after his new job. But the carpenter I had a crush on never showed, and his car never passed under the pedestrian bridge. I cherished the miniature playing cards for a long time…

never seen her since

When the construction company executive disappeared with my family’s money, his wife came to our place with his daughter. She wanted us to know that she wouldn’t shelter him, that she didn’t have any idea of his whereabouts either, and how sorry she felt. She begged not to report to the police. While the grave meeting was held, I was sent to play outside with his daughter. I was nine, and she was a year or two younger. I used to be shy and wasn’t good at being friendly with someone so quickly. But with her, I got along so well at once for some reason. Along the narrow way at the back of my house, clovers grew rampantly. I taught her how to play ‘clover wrestling’ and it became uncontrollable fun. I had never laughed so hard so much in one day. That was the most fun I had ever had in my life. We promised to play together again and she left with her mother. I’ve never seen her since. As her father’s body was found in a gutter a couple of years after the day we became friends, I wonder how her life turned out and how she is now. I hope she’s happy somewhere now…