Ishige sits in the middle of a vast lowland plain that surrounds Tokyo. It doesn’t take long when leaving the capital for the grid of the city to be replaced by the grid of the countryside, the flat expanse of rice paddies intricately manicured through the ages.Towering from the linear landscape is a white castle with a green tiled roof, seven stories that seem lost in the smallness of the town. It is a modern replica, a community center disguised in the allure of the past. Perhaps it was an overzealous mayor’s attempt to put this place on the map, to make it distinctive. Distinction is an oft-sought commodity in the sameness of Japan.
When I first arrived in Japan almost two years ago I was a kid in a candy store, ready to discover my new temporary home that seemed fresh and new at every turn. I reveled in the foreign atmosphere, of day to day blunders and gems of new knowledge.
Now almost two years into my adventure, those days seem distant. There is an interesting half-life to exoticism. What at first seems a place infinite in newness slowly blends into the normalcy of life. One’s eagerness to take part in all that is foreign must at some point come to the realistic conclusion that it is me who is foreign, and short of reincarnation, there are some aspects of a place I will not come to know.