Sunday, March 27, 2016

Wow!  It's amazing to be back in Japan after being gone for 38 years. I am finally able to embrace this land I once called home.  The language is quickly coming back even though I only spoke "kodomo no nihongo" then and still the same now.

We arrived at Narita airport at 3:15 ish on Good Friday afternoon.  It was a massive mad house with people everywhere.  Getting through customs was easy but slow.  We went to pick up the wifi and the JR Rail Pass, which took more than an hour waiting in line.  Finally found a small soup place to grab a bowl of soup and headed to the train to take the hour ride into Tokyo.

When we got to the track the word Rapid Line was in bold letters on a sign, so I took that to mean that it was the "Rapid Express".  Come to find out the Narita Express and Rapid Line are two very different beasts. The Narita Express stops only once before getting into Tokyo.  The Rapid Line, however, stops at many stations.  Fortunately, we were able to get seats and spoke to two Japanese men who were from Kawasaki and Yokohama.  They were very nice and it made the trip pass more quickly.  By the time we arrived in Grand Central Station (Tokyo Station) it was roughly 9:00 p.m.  We were more than exhausted.  Neither of us were in a good mood and easily snapped at each other while we were trying to figure out where to go.

While we were on the train speaking with the men, we arrived at the conclusion that we should hail a cab at Tokyo station and have him drive us to the Airbnb in Akihabara rather than ride the connecting train or subway with all the luggage.  Of course, I over packed and we had too many bags and that cause more frustration for both of us.

We finally got up to the street level and hailed a cab and arrived at the apartment in Akihabara.  Once we arrived we easily got into the quaint, small but more than adequate apartment.  Very pleased that we took the chance to stay in this Airbnb it became our landing ground for the next three days.

The next morning we rose early and got out on the streets around 7:00 a.m. hunting for something to eat.  We walked to Akihabara and got the lay of the land and got on the Yamanote-sen and headed to Shibuya, my old stopping grounds.  We weren't able to find the exact land where our house stood but we came close enough.  It was so nostalgic to be in a place I lived for almost five of my high school years.

We then went to the Tokyo Tower and visited the Zojoji Temple where many famous and important people from Japan are buried.  The Tokyo Tower gave us a birds eye view of the city where over 38 million people reside (Tokyo Metro).  It's phenomenal, overwhelming and unbelievably clean.

Of course, along the way we had incredible food including Ramen.  I found myself craving rice, since I haven't eaten it in about a year.  With all the walking and exercising rice has a place in my tummy while we are in Japan.

After Tokyo Tower, we were pretty much exhausted so we returned to the apartment and rested until late afternoon.  That evening, my friend from high school picked us up and we had a wonderful private Japanese meal with him and his family.

This is where some of my anxiety began as we discussed the issues surrounding our visit to Tokyo and ultimately ASIJ where my sexual abuse began.

My friend has three children who attend ASIJ.  We discussed how everything looked from their perspective during the year and a half surrounding the investigation.  What they shared was some things which concerned me.  Some of which is to be expected by people who really didn't know what they were facing.  But, one message that seemed to resonate from the conversation is that there is still a sense of secrecy among the administration.

Middle school students haven't been included in much of the conversation and were not even informed that we were visiting the school.  It wasn't until Friday, the last day of school until Spring Break that the high school students received notification that if they wanted to come and speak with the "sisters" that they would need to reply to this email because space was limited.

We requested to be able to address the student body, but were told that we would meet with the student council and a few students.

But none the less, the new board has been more than accommodating and gracious to us and we are looking for the most productive day to share our stories and hopefully help to make the school a safer place for kids.

One area that concerns me, especially after reading a CNN article on "JK" or Joshi-Kosei (school girl) is that Japan's sexual perversion culture is at an all time high.  Roppongi, which used to be an area where we hung out in high school, has become very shady and rout with this group of exploited young women dressed up in school uniforms inviting men into to their school girl cafe to socialize, have massages and drink. Read the article here:

The Japanese shame culture is still the same so many of these women won't ever be rescued.  My friend and sister Tacey shared that the attitude toward women is still much the same. If a woman becomes pregnant and is working, she is immediately told of her dismissal and there is no maternity leave or compensation. Therefore, being a mother and having a career is relatively unheard of.  Tacey said that many of her friends who have careers are childless.

But one thing that she said also resonated to be true.  Until the Japanese women become vocal and stand up for a change, change isn't coming. They have to want it and embrace it.

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