Monday, April 15, 2013

A Saturday In The Showa Era

On Saturday, the Tokyo Shimbun (the capital district’s unabashedly lefty hometown newspaper) published a cryptic* senryu:

tsugi wa boku da to
tamago yaki

The People’s Honor Award
Next on the list is me
Says fried egg
Of course, readers of my post on the response to the announcement of the government’s intent to bestow People’s Honour Awards upon Nagashima Shigeo and Matsui Hideki would know that the food item has reason to feel hopeful.

At noon, in the train, I checked my ancient mobile phone for news. In the headlines was the death from illness of Murata Katsushi, the Sumiyoshi-kai gangster who fatally stabbed Japan professional wrestling hero Rikidozan in 1963 (Link - J). Nearly a full 50 years had passed since the commission of the crime that killed the most prominent (albeit sub-rosa) and admired member of Japan’s North Korean community.

In the course of the afternoon in Odaiba, Tokyo’s urban beach (no swimming due to the coliform bacteria counts – though these high counts are probably the product of the huge numbers of waterfowl that reside there) I stopped in at Daiba Icchome, the Showa era retro indoor shopping arcade in the Decks Tokyo Beach shopping mall (Link). I did not enjoy the experiment, though it must be terribly convenient for populist and low brow media giant Fuji Terebi to have a mall of Showa junk just across the street ("Hmmm...we have an hour of airtime and no budget...hmmm...I know, let's go across the street and document our no name and no talent talent saying the word natsukashii over and over again!").

I only caught the tail end of the Showa Era, during the Bubble Years before the fall. Having departed a still hippy inflected Northern California, the late Showa seemed a time of noise-induced intellectual and spiritual catatonia, redeemable only by in retrospect** by ironic/proud singing of the Regain theme song. (Link)

For those like the prime minister, who is not only a child of the Showa but of privilege, the sights and sounds of the Showa evoke nostalgia. For me, they give me a headache, reminding me only of the cacophony, the hubris and the grime.

* Cryptic according to Tokyo Shimbun standards, that is. The senryu that The Asahi Shimbun publishes are so allusive the paper publishes a key. Otherwise, the poems would be nearly indecipherable.

** Yuki no shirushi would not be released until the tail end of 1989, when the Showa Emperor had already gone to meet his ancestors. However, the song was the embodiment of the mad ethos of the last years of the Showa and became a hit song just weeks before The Bubble burst.

Image: Beach at Odaiba on April 13, 2013
Image courtesy: MTC


D said...

Well, I must have just missed you, for I was there at the beach at Odaiba at about the same time and taking photos in about the same spot.

Later, as I ate a hot dog topped with curry and wrapped in nan while drinking a Kirin draft as I watched a young boy and his father do a little dance to the Texas swing that was playing at the (Hawaiian-themed?) cafe on the beach at Odaiba, I was able to avoid looking in the direction of Fuji TV. But I always avoid that no matter where I am.

Yes, this a useless comment, but it's a slow night.

MTC said...

D -

1) Glad you were getting out and enjoying the sun.

2) You did see me. I was the 67 year-old woman in skin tight pink and black running gear.