I went to Japan for three weeks in autumn 1999 to visit my brother in Fukuoka. I arrived in Tokyo at night. After rumbling endlessly through the night, I finally got off the train and out into the open air near the hostel. My first thought was, "this looks just like the cartoons!"

It seemed to me that Japanese is going through the 1960s and 70s. After a period when everyone seemed to be working all the time and the economy was exploding, young people decided it was time to experiment and enjoy life. But Japan is modernising in its own way. They have a different outlook.

Haruki Murakami is wonderful, especially his books The Windup Bird Chronicle and Wild Sheep Chase. My favourite Japanese movies include Seven Samurai, Spirited Away, and Ring. Unfortunately, the sweet and harmless Ranma 1/2 television cartoon will probably never be shown in a North America terrified of teenage sexuality.

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