Chapter 28 – Lonely in Tokyo (1969)


1. House Finding 
2. Missing R.
3. Japan Erupts

Chasing stories was one job. Trying to organise my private life was another.

1. House Finding 

I had been able to rent for 80,000 yen a month a cute two-storey Japanese house — what the Japanese call an hanare – in the garden of a large, wooded Kojimachi estate. 

It was owned by the widow of a former top MITI bureaucrat. 

She lived there alone with her attractive, divorced daughter, with whom I tried obliquely, and unsuccessfully, to be more than just formally friendly. 

(The daughter later married Ogura Kazuo, an up-and-coming diplomat who later headed the Japan Foundation, and whom I also knew since his father was an agricultural economist who had headed Ajiken. 

(He had also been a friend of my father who had also become keen on agricultural economics.

(Wheels within wheels in Japan’s fairly incestuous upper society.) 

2.Missing R.

Kojimachi in those days was a genteel, upper middle class residential area, very convenient to central Tokyo.

Alone in my little Japanese-style house, I began to miss R. greatly.

I had become very close to her during the book publication troubles of my last year in Canberra. 

Selfishly, I wanted to be with her again. But I had already sensed that Japan would be my future for quite a while, and not just because I liked what I had seen of the country. 

The Vietnam war was still raging.

Australia’s raucously dominant right-wingers were still confident of victory there. 

Those who opposed the war were still regarded as demented bleeding-hearts at best, and traitorous, crypto-communists at worst. 

Even quite a few of the progressives had looked at me askance. 

It would be a long time before I could or would want to go back to Australia. 

But if I was to survive in Japan, I would need someone with me who shared my feeling and interest for Japan. And who knew the language.

I could not demand that of anyone. 

Later I heard she married and had a family. 

That did something to ease the pain. 

I heard she had turned into a very beautiful woman.  I am not surprised.

Meanwhile I was renewing my friendship with Yasuko whom I had got to know well during my student days in Japan two years earlier. 

We were to stay together for many years, had two sons and enjoyed a very full life,

One friend in Tokyo

3. Japan Erupts

Japan too was in turmoil, caught up in what came to be known as the kodo seicho jidai no makki – the last years of the high-growth period. 

One day Japan had overtaken France’s GDP; the next day it would be Germany; soon it would be the US. 

There seemed no end to its breakneck growth. 

The euphoria was overwhelming. 

After a hot day at the beach I once wrote  how the economy and society were like something poised on the top of an endless wave, being pushed on and on for ever. 

(Little did we realise it would soon hit the rock of the 1973 oil shock.)