An Anthropologist in Japan by Hendry J.

By Hendry J.

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She was a youngish Japanese woman, smiling and cheerful, and she was dressed in a colourful, expensive-looking dress. She spoke as if we had already met, and I was not entirely certain that I had not perhaps encountered her briefly during my previous visit, but I certainly had no recollection of it. In fact, she made me feel a little invaded, and I walked on towards my house in the hope of shaking her off. She clung fiercely to my side, however, pressing her conversation on me and asking questions about my presence here.

26 Part I: Settling in and making contacts A Japanese friend was booked by chance on the same flight from London, and she had promised to help out if necessary. In fact, her presence did prove to be extremely fortuitous, for the arrival of two foreign children, accompanied by neither parent, was an eventuality evidently uncatered for by the rules of Japanese immigration procedure. The party was led away to an office beyond the security barrier, while I stood forlornly outside, wondering what on earth could be taking so long.

It was vital to procure bags for all these items, partly to keep them separate from each other, but also because their programmes of transport, to school on certain specified days and home again for washing, were carefully timetabled. This could have been to avoid excessive loads, perhaps for the washing machine, but probably mostly for children’s backs. They were definitely to help their owners to develop a system The school…and a f ight 25 of order. This scheme may work eventually for Japanese children, engaged year after year in the care of their belongings, but in our case it was almost certainly more instructive for the anthropologist.

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