The view from my local 神社–shrine. The bright lights in the background are one of the three pachinko parlors that line the main road close to my house. I thought the juxtaposition of traditional torii and the bright lights and consumption of pachinko was pretty hilarious. Unfortunately, my lens was having a hissy fit, refusing to take a picture when in manual focus (WTF? What are these scary noises you’re making?), so I didn’t quite get the photo I wanted.
The image, though, and the feelings it evoked, reminded me a lot of my Modern Japan class with Dr. Cunningham at Gonzaga. Dr. Cunningham’s entire purpose of the class was to see the impact of western modernity on a non-western culture, and we spent a lot of time examining the mental consequences. One of my favorite books is Natsume Soseki’s Kokoro (highly recommended), and in my paper examining the symbolism in the book my thesis was “Soseki… speaks to the broader Japanese experience, showing how [he believes] superficial modern values have led to the isolation and corruption of human nature.”
Man, sometimes I miss school.