Talking as we were yesterday about my German 'student' visitors, I was reminded of another fairly disastrous encounter, this time with a Japanese man. Before he arrived, he announced his forthcoming visit with a two page letter telling me his life history, with photo attached, and itemising his travels. None of this was terribly interesting, as he appeared to be a retired teacher with no children - only a wife who was also a retired teacher.
This was my first close encounter with anyone from Japan, especially someone who was old enough to have actually been alive in the War. He was, indeed, inscrutable. His face gave nothing away, but he obviously didn't think much of either me or my house. And his first act was to give me a sealed envelope which contained another two foolscap pages listing his infirmities and ailments. I am not a nurse, nor am I inclined to become a Nursing Home, so I queried this list. He insisted that he was, really, quite ill. So I asked, not unreasonably I thought, why he was travelling so far from home on his own, and for so long. (His proposed absence from Japan was 6 months!) This did not go down well. Neither did my food, which he picked at and finally left on the plate. (This was a first - usually my food disappears fast.)
After one night, and various complaints which I won't bore you with, he apparently asked at the Language School if he could be accommodated somewhere else. I learned,
some time later, that he had told the school Host Family co-ordinator that I 'frightened' him because I was an independent woman! Dear God. He was a 65 year old man, and I had scared him off, presumably because I'm not the subservient type he is used to. I was glad to see the back of him, and felt rather sorry for the wife. Though on second thoughts, she probably deserved him.
Speaking of the Japanese, part of my chat with my sister last week was about Japan, where she worked on a film a while ago. I said that I had no experience of the place, and had only seen it in the film "Lost in Translation", which had left me with the impression that Tokyo is clearly Hell on Earth. Sister agreed, and said that although it was a fascinating experience, she had not entirely enjoyed her time there. She told the tale of travelling on the underground where the crowds are unimaginable, and conductors with white gloves push people onto the trains. As she is 5'8" tall, she stood head and shoulders above the Japanese men, who all appeared to be reading comics. When she looked more closely, she saw that these comics all featured explicit porn. Huge penises and other unmentionable body parts were evidently the subject of great merriment to these specimens of manhood, because they all laughed hugely as they read their comics. God help the women of Japan. And god help us if they ever win a War! I'm with Bridget Jones's mother.