Japan still uses the “era” system for counting years, based on the current emperor, so this is year 20 of the “Heisei” era. The previous emperor’s reign was known as “Showa” and started in 1925. Amazingly, when I got here in 1976 it was still Showa and the emperor was the same warlord who had presided over the Japanese military regime in World War 2! Now there’s a “Showa village” theme park not far away (maybe I could get a bit of side work there as a “Showa foreigner”?) and Showa is becoming history.
If you live in Nagoya, two events that might be of interest:
- If you’re reading this today (2008/12/12) a bunch of “Showa foreigners” are getting together at a bar just up the road from here called Country Joe. It’s on the Raffles’ Map (at the bottom of the page).
- A long-term resident, Jim Goater has been making beautiful drawings of local buildings for some years. Having just returned from crossing Australia by bicycle (!) he’s got an exhibition at a Nagoya Gallery called Daikokuya from the 17th to 23rd of this month. Well worth checking out.
Jim’s drawings capture beautifully the Japan that I remember when I first got here. Of course they already had the Bullet Train and enough high-rise buildings for anyone, but away from the main streets that’s how it was. Now everyone seems to live in plastic prefabricated boxes that look like Legoland, and anything not immediately needed is knocked down and replaced with a car park. The system of land tax seems deliberately set up to force people to make money from their property in order to pay the tax. Even Kyoto hasn’t escaped.
Now the bottom’s fallen out of the economy the pace of destruction might let up a bit, but there’s not that much Showa left these days.