Sunday, July 31, 2016

Commies to the left of me, Christians to the right

Upon moving to my new neighborhood, I rather flippantly called it a "barren, suburban hellscape". Part of that was probably born out of frustration at being so far from... anything, really. It's a 90-minute commute to campus, with the train station alone at least 15 minutes' walk from the apartment. It's akin to commuting between Grand Island and Lincoln five days a week.

There's also the fact that the most notable buildings in the immediate area are a recycling center, a building supply store, and a wastewater treatment facility. Affordable rent in Tokyo still comes at a cost.

All that said, poking around the neighborhood has produced a few interesting findings. Pictorial evidence of said findings is below the jump.

Apparently I live in something of a Communist hotbed. Even before the recent Upper House election, the neighborhood was replete with posters from the Japanese Communist Party. Many of them had anti-war and anti-Trans Pacific Partnership slogans, such as the poster below.

One of the places with the most posters was the house immediately to the left of my apartment block. Their garden wall had several posters, such as those below. The gentleman on the left is Kazuo Shii, leader of the JCP. How did the JCP do in this election under his leadership? They gained three seats... all via proportional representation... from 11 seats to 14... in a 242-seat legislature. Not so good, Al.

If I go right out of my apartment block instead of left, the narrative shifts from politics to religion. Religion doesn't exactly play a big role in daily life in Japan, despite the plethora of Shinto and Buddhist buildings. Christians only make up about 2.5 percent of the population, and most of the Christian churches I've seen around Tokyo have been small units in back alleys alongside train tracks (i.e. not exactly prime real estate).

So imagine my surprise last week when I was out for a walk and found not only a large church but several buildings as part of a campus. Something called the One Mission Society has not only a church but a theology school. I guess they, too, found the rent in the hinterlands of Tokyo much more reasonable.

This bit of exploration happened thanks to only having two finals during Finals Week, one on the first day and the other on the last day. The time in between was used for studying and a bit of wandering. I also took a walk through the scenic Toritsu Sayama Natural Park, which is about another 20 minutes or so down the road. Photos from that excursion, including a shot of the Seibu Dome rising from across Tama Lake, can be found in the usual place.

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