Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The Old Folk Gather...

A few weeks ago I characterized the crowd outside our school as a lot of bums. And bums there may be, but I've spent the last few days studying them and now I'm forced to admit most of them are the elderly.

They're probably just happy to get out of their houses on these sweltering afternoons we have here in Japan during the summer months. There's no real relief from the heat unless you're willing to turn your A/C on full power and turn your house into a self-contained Siberia, but that's an expensive option. And not as social as lounging about on a bench outside a supermarket, chatting with others your age and socio-economic status and feeding pigeons.

And sometimes playing harmonica.

The shouter-guy seems to have either moved on or else given up his attention-getting antics. Most of the people are wizened little ladies in shapeless, floral-pattern dresses. They sit hunched on the wooden benches in groups and talk about whatever it is little old ladies like to talk about here in Hamamatsu. Or else they just stare. There's always something to see. Pedestrians and bike riders, young people, businesspeople, other elderly people, pigeons and crows scavenging for crumbs. It reminds me of an earlier time I've only read about or seen in movies, when people were more social and gathered in the town center to be part of a community. Old men played checkers in the park and gossiped and old women complained about them.

And it beats sitting home and watching TV all day.

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