Delving into the Intangibles

   Ah, the good old days  

No matter when or how many times you watch Tora-san's show, "Otoko wa Tsuraiyo," it will always make you cry and laugh. Tora-san, a wanderer, takes us on a tour of the Japanese archipelago from north to south, and in each of his 48 films, a beautiful woman called "Madonna" appears, each with a different personality. The film is filled with the "intangibles" of the Showa era (1926-1989), such as the atmosphere and humanity characteristic of it. You will lose track of time while reminiscing about the "retro" of Showa. Tora-san was an evangelist of nostalgia.

The energy of Showa generation that survived the poor postwar years was tremendous.

When I was in elementary school, there was a black market on a back street near the train station. I would watch it timidly from the backside of people. "Come in, come in, if you are not in a hurry.... "call in Toad oil peddlers, banana hawkers. Unhygienic foods that would be unthinkable today were sold on a wooden board . Necessities were not available by rationing, but in the black market. The power of the black market was too great. I believe that the black market was a creative business that was thought up and developed in order to survive.

It is no exaggeration to say that the intangible power born in the black market revived Japan. Without this power, we would not have survived today.

It must have been courageous enough for anyone to moonshine "bakudan-shu," an illegal drink made by diluting industrial alcohol with water, but it also took courage for the fathers who drank it without regard for the risks involved, believing that getting drunk would make them forget the pain of hard days. Instead of sweeteners, they used saccharin and zultine, and made a snack called "Carmela-yaki" for the children. A moment of happiness and danger were always next to each other. I cannot say that it is a sweet memory, but it must be the one that gives my heart a strange nostalgic sensation.

What exactly is nostalgia? Is it a "memory that will never be encountered or experienced again, but that rises in the heart with a deep unexplainable intangible feeling.

It is only a memory, so no matter how much we reminisce, it is harmless. It cannot be said that everything in the past is nostalgic, and what is remembered fondly by each person must be different. Nostalgic memories are intangibles for every person.

For me, nostalgic memories are my mother's crisply starched white kappo-gi apron, precious white rice increased volume with wheat served on the table for the whole family. They enjoyed the modest dish of soup and vegetable. Without this power of poverty, we would not have survived today.

Eating itself was a luxury. The joy of having a familial supper filled me with a sense of security because we were all together. This is a scene of extreme happiness that existed in the midst of poverty.

Courage, trust, energy, solidarity, cooperation, love for neighbors, and compassion... I think it was the postwar Showa period that brought out a lot of intangible power. These days were the best times that I will never encounter again........

  K.Yamakawa -Founder Feiler Japan       
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