As I pull out my chair to take my seat I glance out of the window and I’m greeted by a young girl of no more than 8 years old flying down the pedestrianised High Street; pink jacket with a rainbow of tassels and ribbons flowing in her own breeze as she kicks the ground with her left foot and propels herself along on her two wheeled scooter. What a way to start the day!

The weekend was spent pitch side again, Saturday and Sunday both brought long shifts (6 hours) of training and matches for Taiga. I spent much of this time enjoying the newly opened ‘clubhouse’ at Liverpool’s Kawasaki stadium.. and it was using the new toilets there that it dawned on me. We have to talk about toilets in Japan!

Bidets come as standard, as does a heated seat! This model pictured here has several buttons/modes/settings, yet is commonly found in cafés, gyms, shopping malls and hotels. The one in our apartment has an automatic flush. And the flush is so powerful… woe betide any superfluous artefacts getting caught in the cross fire – you ain’t getting that shit back. Literally.

Waste disposal is paramount. Burnable/non burnable, paper, plastic, glass, metal, batteries, PET bottles; each has their own sections in the recycle room within the apartment block. Paper and card MUST be flattened and wrapped neatly with all identification removed. Any oversized items must be booked and paid for a separate collection service. The organisation is eye-wateringly precise. I find it quite satisfying to be honest, yet it’s bewildering to the uninitiated.

Ah, there they are again! The pair of security guards that carry the money. Handcuffed to the trolley, they’re moving at pace today, reassuringly.

There is something serious I’ve been meaning to discuss. There was a stabbing here in Minatomirai last Thursday, at a music concert at the K-Arena. I didn’t say anything at the time as I didn’t want to alarm readers unnecessarily. Also , when the news broke, I couldn’t help but feel there was a little more to the story yet to unfold.

The first headline last week read: “Woman stabbed at Yokohama music arena. Suspect at large. (HERE)

This, understandably, lead to mild panic in the community. Police were enlisted to escort children to and from school, teachers also joined the patrolling efforts and the K-Arena (a relatively new building that I’ve mentioned in a previous post) came under fire for attracting large crowds of rogue strangers. The fear of the perceived threat hung like a low, dark cloud over the neighbourhood.

Taiga came home from school and declared “everyone” was talking about the “stabber”, the demon man now hiding in the bushes – armed and ready to pounce.

But something felt off to me; the victim said she hadn’t noticed being stabbed, hadn’t felt anything until she left the concert hall and noticed a knife protruding from her abdomen as she made her way down the steps of the hall back to the street.

This morning the news broke that her wound was self inflicted. HERE

Imagine the maze of confusion within her mind. Imagine the depths of trauma this poor lady must have been experiencing in order to decide on this act. Picture the weight of self hatred, shame and negativity she has to carry, to live with. My heart goes out to this woman and her loved ones, I wish her a full recovery and hope this can signify a new beginning.

Fear is such a strong driver, such a powerful emotion. They say that attack is the first form of defence, and that we attack when we feel threatened. When Taiga first arrived here in Japan, I was so scared for his well being. Everything was new and unknown to me, and I felt unable to protect him in the way I was accustomed to. I look back now with the benefit of hindsight. At the time I was blinded by fear: I remember one morning walking him to school and our route took us past a construction site. I’d been introduced to this idea of him walking home from school alone and he was due to begin this practice soon. At 6 years old it felt way too soon for me, but everyone else was doing it. I reluctantly agreed to it but insisted I check out the route myself first. As we walked past the entry doors of the construction site I looked down and noticed a hole in the ground, under the gap between the doors and the pavement. It was right there, and so close to where the kids were walking, who knows how deep this abyss could be…

I spent the whole day worrying about the treacherous journey he’d be taking back from school on his own. By the early afternoon it was driving me crazy, to the point where I felt compelled to walk back to the spot of the abyss and take a closer look. I knelt down and peered into the darkness of this black hole, prodding the water that collected at the top with my umbrella, the chrome spike immediately meeting resistance and water lightly splashing onto the toes of my trainers. The ‘abyss’ I’d discovered was actually a harmless puddle, slowly evaporating now in the afternoon sun.

I gave the security personnel guarding the entrance to the site a gentle bow and continued walking.

Dan x

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