Saturday, September 24, 2011

(Photo: Yuki and Akimoto San)

Day 183: Friday, September 9, 2011

Two months ago I asked Mari if she could help translate the first month of Talking Barnacles because I’ve been planning on releasing it as a series of zines in Japanese. Today when I asked her on her progress since it was way past the original deadline, she exploded on me and said I didn’t appreciate what she was doing. After she had finally calmed down, she confessed that she didn’t mean what she had said. She had been stressed out because she had been keeping a secret, which had been bothering her a lot lately. She told me that I would definitely get criticized and judged by Japanese people for my 7 Days diary because there are many other people out there with worse stories. She also said that she had showed it to her friend, and they had both agreed that it would be better to just cut it out entirely from the zine.

Deep down, I already knew that was a major possibility, so it didn’t take me by surprise. My reply to her, which will be the same for the people who will attack me in the future, was that I had never claimed to have had the worst experience ever, and that my story was pretty much the same as almost everyone else’s in Tokyo. I also said that just because we didn’t live in or near the Tohoku area at the time, does that mean that we are not allowed to talk about the earthquake and how it affected us at all? Where does one draw the line if comparing one’s tragedy is going to be the measure about who can or cannot speak in public about the disaster?

I continued to tell Mari that Talking Barnacles is my diary, which means I write about my day, and for seven days, I did write about the earthquake and how it affected me and my friends… but since then, I have also been documenting the other 182 days that have gone by, which have been about love, friendship, masturbation and a million other things. If I were to give in and cut out the first seven days like she and her friend had recommended in order to avoid judgement, then, for me, I believe there would be no reason to publish anything else because I would be giving in and censoring myself for the sake of small-minded people as well as pretending the earthquake had never even happened in the first place, which would be invalidating the worth of my own experience and everyone else’s in Tokyo.

While we continued walking, I told her that I would still go ahead as planned and that I would be ready for the criticism that lied ahead. Because I had convinced her that I knew what I was doing, she felt relieved after getting her worries off her chest and by the time we got to Denny’s, she was happy again. We sat down in our booth, looked through the menu, and while she was telling me about her choice between omu-rice and gratin, I did my best to listen and be present, but the truth was that I was still defending myself against the imaginary people in my head.

For the people in Tokyo who will read 7 Days in the future- the ones whom will wince and wonder, "Who is this asshole who wrote this?"- they are already looking back at our mutual experience in retrospect like it was not such a big ordeal… but the truth was, that it kind of was, and that it was actually really scary. These people have already forgotten the details and how it really felt to be there then… and that’s why I recorded and published everything at that time in English and hopefully one day Japanese.



  1. I agree with you Pat. You are writing about your own experience. Not every one needs to write Schindler's List every time they write a story. Your personal experience is your own perspective and you're honest in the way you present yourself, just as you do here; so it might be dishonest to not tell that part. ??

  2. Thanks, Erock for taking the time to write. Yeah, I think excluding 7 Days would leave me feeling uneasy, like I sold out.

    But Shindler's List is a good movie though.

    Hatagaya misses you. We just had a Hatagaya Festival here!

  3. do what you gotta do man. people will never understand.

  4. I'm just a visitor to this site, but let me play the devil's advocate and ask:

    If I want a visual document of the Post 3/11 experience, Why should I look at TB when there's already the Tohoku Rolls project?

  5. Hey Ian,
    Sorry I don't know what the Tohoku Rolls project is.
    And I am not claiming that TB is the place to find out about the quake. I never did. It is just my diary. I just wanted to say that I think I shouldnt have to censor my earthquake experience- neither should anyone else- because "nothing" supposedly happened to me or them.

    I intentionally avoided going to Tohoku after the quake because my project is not about the earthquake or Tohoku or devastation. It's about Tokyo... and life in general.


  6. If you haven't heard about Rolls Tohoku (I got the order wrong), then you should really check it out. I'm actually surprised you haven't, as I found out about it through a blog that also mentioned your site.

    Take a look:

  7. Ian,
    I forgot to say before (since I was groggy from just waking up when I read your comment) was "Welcome" since you are new to TB.

    Anyways I appreciate you taking the time to write and especially for playing devil's advocate.

    Thanks for the link. I will check it out.

  8. PS You have the same name as my roommate/best friend.