Tuesday, August 19, 2008


1988 began in the Soviet Union with Mikhail Gorbachev launching his Perestroika economic reforms at home and abroad withdrawing troops from Afghanistan. The US Congress denied the Regan administration funding for its terrorist campaign against Nicaragua, and one of the key players in illegal arm sales to Iran, George Bush senior, became a nominee for the fall presidential election. The US Navy shot down an Iranian civilian airliner in the Persian Gulf, while Pakistani generalismo Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq and the US ambassador to Pakistan died in a mysterious plane accident.

European and American companies were trying to figure out how to emulate Japan's success, a country riding high on a skyrocketing stock market and land speculation boom. From the scrum of greed emerged an insider trading deal known as the Recruit Scandal, forcing a number of prominent Japanese politicians into retirement. The Showa Tenno (Emperor Hirohito) continued his state duties with only months to live.

And I arrived in Japan.

I don't remember the date, though it's probably noted somewhere in a stack of old letters in a box in an Atlanta attic. I remember my first festival in Japan was an evening bonfire by the riverside to welcome the ancestral spirits home for the Obon holidays. I spent about a week in Tokyo before being shipped off to my job and home in Himeji, so I had to have arrived late July or early August.

Before leaving the US my mother said I'd be ready to come home after a year. I thought I might like to stay at least two or three.

This summer marks 20 years. 240 months. 7300 days.

A lot of things have changed in the interim.



  1. Hi Jeff-

    Your passport should hold your original entry permit into Japan. Mine does: November 29, 1983. This year I celebrate 25 years in Japan. Falls on a Saturday. If you can be in the Kansai, let me know, there's bound to be a party of sorts.

    Cheers! Craig

  2. Good idea!

    Now I just have to find that passport, which may be in my box of stuff left over from Kuwait, which is where we lived when I renewed my passport with the original entry permit.

    29 November I should be in Kathmandu. But I'll raise a glass of something appropriate, like some chang.



  3. Actually, my original entry permit keeps getting transferred from my old passport to my new one. It's strange to see it in all its aged and primitive glory next to the digitalized re-entry permit. C