I have very few complaints about Japan. Life is generally is good here for me. But occasionally things like this happen.
It is has my become habit to go to Kita-Senri, on the Hankyu Line, it’s the end of line, but one station and only one stop from Yamada, my stop. There are many shops and restaurants, and an Aeon store. I like being in Kita-Senri. It’s my ‘goto’ place when I can’t really get out, other than Senri-Chuo. Many a sneaky MacDonalds have been partaken of there, many a sneaky chu-hi. I get the the MaccyD’s to ‘take out’. One Cheeseburger and one small Coke, or ‘Cheeseburga, Setto Onegaishimasu!’. Maybe on this occasion I get a Chu-hi from ‘The Daily Yamazaki’ – You have got to love a conbini that plays Verdi’s Dance of the Hebrew Slaves as way to entice you to buy onigiri, alcohol and other things.
I sit, bite at my burger, drink and muse on my life. I genuinely feel blessed, however trite that sound. Most days this musing goes undisturbed. I sit, I eat, watch life go by. But today – about three weeks ago, it was different. The initial routine was the same, except that this time it was one ‘Cheeseburga a cola Onegaishimasu!’ – one chessburger and a coke, please!.
I went to my usual seat, a park bench, behind me a Resona Bank and a Japan Post Office Bank. Two young lads on that most eighties of artefacts, the skateboard, comes up to me. And they are really good. I enjoy the half pike thing they have going on my ramping up the side of the bench, up and down, and I truly envied them. It made them so happy. Up and down, Up and down, Up and down. I enjoy their love of the simplicity of the event.
And then it happens. The elder skateboarder says to the younger ‘Shogaisha!’ the Japanese word for ‘disabled’ and points at me. His friend gets on his board and skates away. The elder follows suit.
I have no doubt, he meant well. That he didn’t want his friend to annoy me. But this was the first time, a Japanese person, yes a child, referenced my disability as a negative thing, And sometimes that hurts. But I still have sneaky MaccyD’s and Chu-hi’s at Kita-Senri. Kids will be kids. Life ultimately is good.