This is the first part of English version of my book 『自‘遊’への旅』published in September 2020. The original in Japanese was written for Japanese readers, in particular for young generation. Nonetheless the arguments are not necessarily about the local isolated subjects but covers common subjects among other people in the world as well. This is the reason why I decided to publish the English version. I hope that this publication is useful not only for any non-Japanese but also for the particular person who have interest in the view which is rarely discussed on the mentality of Japanese.
Start out now because of the difficult time
The First Revised Version
(9 March 2021)
(B. Civil Eng., MIR, PhD)
This is the translated version of my original book (『自’遊’への旅』) written in Japanese particularly for the young people who are forced to be stranded due to the hard situation brought by the corona pandemic.
By this publication of the English version, I, as the Japanese author, aim at international co-understanding of those very much local, i.e. in Japan, issues. For I believe that they should not be local issues contrary to the appearance.
In addition, and importantly, the publication of the translated version is that as if I began to have my avatar who began to talk with many people of all the world instead me.
I publish the first revised version today since an extensive English editing completed.
I express my great thanks to my close friend, Russell Lain, who contributed this English editing for me.
9 March 2021
Table of Contents
(Underlined titles are linked)
The iron law of securing the means of survival
The never-ending journey
Take an unexpected chance
Middle aged overseas study in Australia
What you can choose and what you can’t choose
Enjoy political benefits
View of after-corona
Relativisation of country as unit
Amphibianology: practical knowledge of life
“Eye-opening” Quantum Theory
Between “Science” and “Real Feeling”
Not a matter of “youth is ignorance”
“Over-working habit diseases”
Maintenance of the body infrastructure
The brain is infrastructure too
Fake “private insurance”
Future society built by healthy elderly
Health of the Earth
Origins of Japaneseness
The Japanese as “un-weaned” child
At the bottom of the dilemma to survive
Japan as number one in the world
Twilight of the West
The essence of Oriental Thought
Author’s Brief Personal History
Now, I am going to write a travel book.
This book however is not a so-called guidebook for travel, but something that will lead to a different journey .
However, the world is in the chaos of the corona pandemic now, there is no sign of subsiding, and it still is in the thick fog which makes the future unforeseeable.
It is unthinkable that the COVID-19 crisis will end in a transient infection phenomenon. Moreover, the actual situation is still uncertain and what kind of “new normal” it brings in the future is unknown.
At such a time, the travel fever like pre-COVID-19 will not come back again in a short or medium-term outlook, except for a specific reopening for a specific purpose.
Thousands of aircraft have already been parked on the ground or retired from service. It would be a very thin hope that the enormous transportation capacity which has disappeared in this way, or the demand for aviation, will come back in a few years.
It is true that when you look at the actual situation of the global travel industry, the corona impact is really devastating, and many businesses are forced to withdraw or change themselves. Of course, for the travellers too, overseas travels are impossible and have no choice other than to postpone or by replacing the destination with a domestic one. Any way the reality as we have to wait until the situation is over.
But there is a point to think about. The current extraordinary period in history must be a perfect opportunity to re-think about the travel and think rather about the journey. In the first place, journey is not something which disappears just because airplanes do not fly.
I am not going to talk about a complicating aspect by using a term, paradox, but purely paradoxically, this is the best opportunity to go back to the true journey which would be thought about deeply, chosen carefully, and prepared thoroughly by everybody.
In particular, I am thinking now about many young people who all of a sudden had their travel plan ruined and have been drawn into a great disappointment due to the pandemic.
But do not give up. Journey is never erased by something like this.
I am already over 70 years old and have been journeying in my own way. However, if I ask myself whether the journey was just a fad like the travel fever as before the corona, it is clearly “no”.
And I have not thought yet that my journey has completed. As it will be described later, I am also pursuing a further journey with a different perspective.
And in the first place, life is an eternal journey.
In the current situation, thanks to the corona pandemic, there is a circumstance that time has revived rather abundantly, and we have not encountered such a kind of problem which is only solved by a hasty decision.
The journey that I am going to discuss in the book is the journey that must be free from any kind of restraints.
Now, let us take a look at the contents of the book.
Just now I have said that the journey “must be free from any kind of restraints”. But every restraint penetrates into and never disappears from every aspect of our life stubbornly in various scenes as if it were invisible enemies.
The book discusses such restraints from a number of angles, and talks about the journey with the aim that will release oneself wisely from them.
The first restraint the book talks about is the biggest enemy, that is, the one when you struggle to survive. If you look at it as necessity for survival, it will contain almost everything. However, we consider it specially as a “necessity to earn money” in connection with the current economic system.
The second is the political restraint in relation to the economic and financial restraint mentioned above. Many meanings of the term “freedom” are also used in this connection. However, we should not stand on such an awkward word. Let us calmly go back to ourselves and think about what kind of “freedom” we need and focus on it.
The third is the academic restraint, and the core of the modern view of the world is based on this perception. However, when you hear the word of “academic”, it may not be your direct concern in everyday life. Nonetheless, it has a powerful authority in the education system. Furthermore, this is actually rooted deeply in the restraint of our mind because it was poured into us systematically especially through the education.
The fourth restraint is the limitations of one’s own body. No one can beat fatigue or illness, and one day we must depart to the other world. That is why health is so hoped for, but for us it has become more close restraint than anything else. We cannot steer well this upside-down relation in which our body should be the resource of our life but is often treated as consumable.
The fifth is the mental and psychological restraint which tends to become a source of trouble although which is a resource too. This restraint is also intertwined with the third one, i.e. education, and it is also related to the sixth one.
The sixth restraint is a thought or ideological one which should be a map for the journey which is described in the book. In a sense it is also related to religion or faith. Therefore, this constraint is unknowingly related to others and sometimes develops into self-made restraints.
In the seventh, these constraints are combined, and it is summarized from both views as an individual and as a group.
Thus, the book calls the wisdom which overcomes these hardly visible various restraints and their practical processes, journey.
In other words, the word journey in the book is life itself.
That is why, even if you are encountering the once-in-a-hundred-year disaster, it should neither be abandoned nor be replaced by any other method.
Rather, it should be coped with substantially and practiced with special actions which are specially suitable for such an extraordinary difficulty.
It can be said that whatever happened the planning of journey should never be abandoned because of the corona epidemic.
In this way, despite the situation of the COVID-19 crisis, when one can convert the negative of restraint into a positive, and one can combine or multiply them, it should become a magnificent journey which is exactly like a bird which flies in the sky.
Therefore, the book invites you to “Fly High”.
In spite of being over 70, I think of the COVID-19 crisis as an opportunity and have challenged the new journey to publish the book.
The publication of the book was a totally individual job which literally did not get anyone’s help, including for the design of the cover. I realize that the present is a time when such an individual performance is being demanded and realistic.
1. The “Dilemma”(*)
(*) : the quandary of the conflict between the need to earn money and the need to care for my self ― which I call the “dilemma”.
The iron law of securing the means of survival
Now I recall in my early twenties, when I was just starting my own life, the biggest challenge, to put it in somewhat symbolically, was how to survive, and more precisely, how to overcome the discrepancy between the compromise between money and my real intention.
At that time in the early 1970s, Japan’s economy was doing well, and there were little difficulties in getting a job after education, unless being too choosy. Rather my difficulty began since I quit my first job after only six months.
I recall the day when I made up my mind to quit my first job. That morning, at Shinjuku Station with crowds in rush hour, I did not get on a train to work, I got on a train in the opposite direction and headed to the mountains of Yamanashi Prefecture. Before I got on the train, I called my close friend from a pay phone on the platform and said, “I’m going to hide away for a few days. As it may cause a bit of a problem but don’t worry, thanks for your help.”
According to the social common sense at the time 50 years ago, it was a normal acceptance about a job to keep it for a lifetime once you got it. Therefore, it was a foolish act to quit or change the job on the way, and it damaged the career, and of course, it brought the disadvantage on income. In other words it was an act which should not be done as a member of the society.
However, I quit my job after six months, that is, dropped out of the ordinary road, and began to wander a “backroad”.
I thus did the social self-damaging act of dropping out from the stable track which I once got, and was driven into a quite miserable psychological state. Even if I had my own idea, of course, since it was inescapable to sell my labour for income, I encountered a big wall of dilemma to exist that would be sandwiched between the duality of the self-mind and the reality.
Such an action was influenced in some extent by the leftist thought which had caught a lot of young people at that. However, there is no Right or Left in this ” iron rule for survival”.
Consequently, my job which I had to have for survival was a labour-hire work which was illegal at that time. If I look at now, it was a job of seemingly the origin of freeter〔Japanese slang for a unstable employee〕even though it was technical work.
I thus began to experience the subject of restraint in order to secure the means of survival via a heretical way by derailing the customary path by myself. After that, as a matter of course, I took the way going in the backroad of society and could see scenes which could be watched only there probably.
However, even if I were on a regular route without dropping out, there would be no significant difference, just that I might experience a different type of difficulty in the same society, even though there were the difference of front and back.
Currently, due to the stagnation of Japan’s economy for many years plus the impact of the COVID-19 crisis, the degree of dilemma caused by the iron rule is far more severe and it is just like a bottomless swamp.
Thus, the dilemma for survival is a fundamental problem regardless of the difference of one’s age, and it is a restraint due to the economic system which is unreachable by the effort of individuals, although it is a characteristic of society.
Therefore, there can be no liberation from it unless a utopian society is realized on earth.
Nonetheless, it is possible to move within such a sandwiched state even though it can be a relative effort.
As a result, we can clarify what we work for and devise ways to achieve it effectively and efficiently. This step is significant.
This is because the “movement” is, of course, a limited action within the society, but there is also a variety of niches and unexpectedly interesting little-known spots. While establishing a clear purpose, it is possible to find your time every day even a little by little, and to create a place of your own.
During the time you spend those days, you will see another perspective, and you will have unexpected luck or encounters.
The important thing is to build up your foothold for your survival, without derailing, and get ready for what you really want to do. Of course you are not confident and being exposed to anxiety. Unfortunately, there is no silver bullet to make you succeed.
Life is long. There are many happenings. The times change little by little. And the chance surely comes after the pinch.
The never-ending journey
I have been taking these dilemmas as “the doubleness of survival” since my twenties. And this subject is not something that has begun in modern times. Perhaps, since the history of human society began, in some way, it is a subject that nobody can escape. If you look at some of the most famous books around the world, many of them discuss details related to this.
Anyway, if it is impossible to leave, it is human nature to try to find even a little brightness in the dilemma by changing the criteria to choose from among the various kinds of Catch-22 problem.
Then I came across the work of the labour union by chance at the end of my twenties, and started it as full-time work which might be a job to be able to achieve both addressing economic exploitation and money earning. A few years later, I encountered an incident where a member of the union attempted suicide from overwork. Through trial and error, four years later, we won for him Japan’s first worker’s compensation for suicide from overwork.
However, even if the compensation was achieved, it was only the so-called follow-up for the tragedy from which he was already severely disabled. Namely, the acquisition of financial compensation did not mean the return of the previous body and normal life to him. Thinking of this as an opportunity, I decided to be a middle-aged overseas student because I wished to learn more about labour issues from a broader perspective, especially internationally.
In that way, the place of life has spread outside the country, but even now when decades have passed since then, such a dual life in which one part of myself makes money and the other is used for own wishes continues. Further, the system which forces the dual life has changed in various ways, and more skillfully has deepened the degree of restraint on people. As a result, sometimes one cannot find even one’s own position in the jungle.
In other words, as far as the conclusion I come to learned in my life, this restraint will not go away from the world unless you are an employer, as the survival system which you need employment and wages covers all the human society. Also, just because you become your employer might not mean that it is your goal. Or you might be able to become your master if you are gifted and can show what you want.
That is why there is a need to be at the top of the world or dream of becoming a celebrity. However I do not think that such behaviour is the solution to the problem of doubleness, but it must be that the majority of ordinary people on the other hand will be forced to be associated with the restraint until they die.
Of course, the way we interact with others has great variety, and there is also the diversity, subtleties, and depth of our lives among them. And the subject of the dilemma of doubleness enters the area of the consideration which advanced a little more when the issue comes to this area.
So, the place of the discussion ahead will be carried over to the next chapter, but there are new elements that should be taken into account here.
In other words, just as I decided to study abroad in the middle years, so to speak, this was a way to change the geographical conditions of the setting of the problem.
As the saying goes “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” When people were born and raised in a country and had experiences, there may be problems peculiar to that country. Here comes a new challenge of geographical movement.
In this way, we will enter to the stage of travel which is exactly the theme of this book.
Take an unexpected chance
Before moving on to the next chapter, however, there is a point of view that I would like to take up here.
In the last 20 years or so, Japan’s iron rule of securing means of survival has become more severe, that is, the standard of living has been declining. Also, there is a reality that even to move is becoming a risk in the area related to travel.
For example, a young friend of mine, who went out into society with hope after he finished his studies, was only able to get a career as a so-called freeterand finally became disillusioned with Japanese society and came to Australia with a dream. As a person on working holiday visa, he worked hard with every effort possible. However, in his case, it did not realize his dream, and he returned to Japan while knowing what kind of reality was waiting for him.
In other words, in Japan, needless to say, even if you went abroad, that same the iron law of securing the means of survival is still becoming heavier and stricter.
Because it is such a situation, it is not easy to even save the overseas travel expenses while earning money to feed oneself. Not only that, but even if we manage to make ends meet and go abroad, our opportunities overseas are extremely slim too.
In short, it is a situation in recent years that the hurdle is being lifted gradually higher and harder even if you are very keen to want to fly out to a journey.
Recently, for example, many Japanese nurses have come to Australia to study at vocational schools or to spend a working holiday and I can find at least a few such people around me. Some of them are aiming for an international qualification as a nurse, or they have found a new workplace to live by joining Australia’s emergency medical teams by taking advantage of this pandemic that they happened to come across. In one girl’s case, her part-time work experience at a nursing home in Australia and previous English skills just coincidently matched the necessity suddenly arose due to the COVID-19 crisis.
The above cases are usually described as good luck. However, it is not a precise enough explanation to accept totally. Because although it can be possible to accept it as luck, coincidence, or intuition, there is an area called the ability to develop a series of very peculiar chances beyond it.
Such a field which is not able to be explained in general by conventional common sense certainly exists in our life.
In these fields, which are occasionally classified as “New Science,” it is also seen as the ability to catch the contingencies of the world and which is called “serendipity.” Alternatively, it is also called “synchronicity” and is one of the new perceptions that natural phenomena respond to each other.
At any rate, it is a field that we cannot help but be conscious of when we try to deal with things seriously and delicately.
As for this, the mention comes to rest here, and it will restart later (Chapter 3).
In addition, the world is in a great mess by the corona pandemic now. As a result, people who had managed to go abroad before the outbreak have been forced to return home, or others have become nailed down because they can not move at all. This is a situation which has occurred beyond any forecast. How should we make sense that what is happening on the earth due to the COVID-19 crisis.
In this way, no matter what you encounter, the possibility of such a dramatic encounter is life and a journey.
It may be arguable but it is possible to do something to prepare for gripping a clue of the unseen journey by activating so-called intuition and clairvoyance free from any conventional framework.
From that point of view, it might be said it is life to prepare a contingency with making a sort of bet. Of course, there is no guarantee there. A man may cross a dangerous bridge very carefully or a man may never cross such a bridge. In any case, your choice is in your hands.
Thus, you can polish up your sensing ability by fully mobilizing yourself internally or externally and then building up your careful preparation step by step without sparing time. Through this way you can grab even a once in a hundred years chance eventually.
On the other hand, in December of last year (2019), Tetsu Nakamura, a doctor who had been working on humanitarian assistance in Afghanistan, was shot and killed. He was only about a month younger than me.
I think that his way of life was the best way of life which embodied the heavy contingency which accepted such a peculiar event as a mission far from being rare. Even if it leads to such a death, it does never mean that the meaning of his way of life has faded in any way.
Life is an adventurous attempt that includes such a tragic outcome and ultimately which does not allow to come close to any prediction.
It is up to you, of course, whether you take it into your life or not.