I revisited October 5th, 1991 today via video I took that day, and in the video is a man - TM - who I met in 1984 while staying at a "gaijin house" in Mitaka (Tokyo English Center, I think it was) which was in an old wooden building (formerly a company dormitory) with widows that rattled when the wind blew. (Checking the Internet, there's a new place with the same name just down the Chuo Line, so maybe that's where they moved after that old wooden building was torn down.)
The rooms there had two beds each and the concept was that they put one foreigner in with one local. The foreigners were there because it was cheap accommodation, and the locals were there for the novelty of it and also to get experience interacting with foreigners (this was when the exchange rate was Y245 to $1, so foreign travel was rather expensive). I was only there about a month, but it was an interesting time and the building was a remnant of another era.
There's much that could be said about that time, and I was planning to do so, but it's late, so I'll just say that this came soon after my Shinagawa adventures, which I (previously) detailed here:
I wonder what became of my old roommate - who was a student at Waseda University? I remember being impressed that he was studiously going through a very difficult English novel as part of his studies, but could barely speak a word of English. Since this was during my first two months in japan, and I could hardly speak a word of Japanese; not surprisingly, we never got to know each other.
Hmm... I just had a flashback in thinking about it. When I left after being there only a month (I would have been there longer, but found a job in Chigasaki at a small school that arranged for me to rent a room in a house near the Shonan Beach), I seem to remember feeling as though I had let my roommate down. In spite of nearly zero verbal communication, we got along okay and I think he was hoping to get to communicate with me a little and was unhappy that I was drifting off so soon. In the same situation now, I'd make a point to meet up with him and others there again after moving, but I was in the thick of my New-World-Adventure and things were constantly changing, so I just pushed ahead.
Anyway - another (short) chapter in the Early Years story. Here's the October 1991 video with former Mitaka Tokyo English Center resident TM in the middle - buying cigarettes and talking to the shopkeeper about them:
"1991 Minami-Ikebukuro and Shibuya" - (911005)
I sure wish I'd had a video camera back in 1984! It was the end of an era. From 1985, the value of the yen began steeply climbing and then just about everything changed pretty radically after that... I guess.., but - come to think of it - Tokyo never stops changing.
Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon