It has been almost ten years since I left Japan for graduate schools and I never really lived in this country since then. This summer I am restarting my life in Japan almost from scratch because I had no working bank account, no Japanese credit card, and no cell phone. My only Japanese ID, a passport, was going to expire as soon as I arrived in the country, too. I had to go through the process of establishing my existence step by step.
At the passport center, they rejected my photo because I was smiling in it. The bank probably knew how to deal with foreigners better but seemed not to know how to deal with a Japanese citizen who does not have ordinary things like set income sources or a cell phone number, but has too many of unusual things like home addresses. At the cell phone store they could not understand why I was not a customer who is switching from another cell phone company. They looked at me as if I had been an alien who had suddenly landed on the earth. At an electronic store, I asked where the section of wireless internet routers, and he laughed at me because I pronounced “router” as “ラウター.” He said, “are you talking about ルーター？” Wait. I am getting a feeling of starting over in a foreign country. I thought I was in the country where I grew up.
Turning on the TV, I find that 40% of the TV commercials are about “skin whitening” cosmetics. Hirosue Ryoko, somehow still one of the most popular actresses, tells you, “White — that’s the pure color you were born in. Please do not contaminate it.” I cannot believe this is broadcast without any political uprising.
People are nice and food is good here. I do not mean to criticize Japan. But it certainly became a lot more mysterious than before.