*to Hanlon's razor: Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.

Monday, 4 August 2014


So I am home, or in Canada at my mother's at least.  Out of Tokyo after four years.  What is home?

This is my hometown, but not the house I grew up in, which I'd left at eighteen in any case, and which I had loathed all of my teens: the town and the family.  Father dying helped a great deal, but that's baggage and we all have it.

I've lived nineteen years in this Toronto suburb, one in another, one in St. Catharines, five in Montreal, four in Tokyo, three in a Tokyo suburb, and it must be eleven in Toronto.  What is home? 

For my heart, it is Montreal, but the heart is a fickle thing and not amenable to sense.  I have poor French, and I lived there in university for the most part.  Apart from what my heart knows, I cannot call it home, and I know if I lived there again I would be broken-hearted.

Common sense tells me it is Toronto.  It isn't any of the Southern Ontario towns I've lived in.  Even as a youth I did not feel that they were home: too limiting.  So is Toronto, though a little less.  It may be a home, but there is no love lost there.

Tokyo?  Or Kanto, at least?  A second home, but they're never going to accept me.  At best I am an odd-looking cousin.  An interloper.  Besides, Tokyo like Toronto is full of assholes: there are better places in both countries.

I do not have a home city.  I have a family, and they are home.  Where we live is just background to that.  If you cannot hold yourself apart from your surroundings you are as coarse as those who cannot from their emotional state.  Better to be a bit adrift than capped.


  1. I'm happy for you for leaving proto fascism. I did the same thing (only after 2.5 years which felt like 10), and I've never looked back. In fact, I will never go back to Asia again.

  2. I'm sorry I didn't get the chance to pour you a glass of Scotch before you left, but there's always a bottle of Ardbeg on the shelf at my bar, so when you're back in Tokyo for a visit...

    For me, home will likely always feel like the Pacific Northwest, including Vancouver as I have dual citizenship, but I've lived long enough to know that home is something you carry with you, and when your surroundings become too unpleasant to feel relaxed in, you attempt to mold them enough to be pleasant, or you have to move on.

    I wish you the best of luck in getting your family adjusted to life over there and am looking forward to reading about your new adventures.

    1. "The mind is its own place and in itself, can make a Heaven of Hell, a Hell of Heaven."
      - John Milton

      I regret not getting to your bar. With luck it will thrive and I can visit it next time in Japan, in a year or two. I'll take you up on that scotch. Likewise, if ever you find yourself through Toronto (though I cannot recommend Toronto) a few drinks on me.

      I never did ask you the whole story of staying in Tokyo. I remembered on a comment of a few years back you were thinking of leaving, or have I misremembered? Opening a bar implies you changed your mind. There's a post in that, I think.

      Any readers, 'Billy' is a good guy, and though I did not get to his bar, I am sure it will reflect him, plus has always a good craft beer or two, I believe. In Ikebukuro.

    2. You're too kind...

      That's a good idea; I will write about what has kept me in Japan. Opening the bar was a desire from almost the beginning of my time in Tokyo; I hated the idea of leaving Japan without having done it.

  3. Wishing you all the very best, and every success! Thank you for the great blog.

  4. The older I get, the more I start to think that life inevitably moves not in a smooth curve, but in long periods of stasis followed by jarring transitions; the 'disrupted equilibrium' theory of lifestyle and existence. Or maybe it's just me.

    Either way it's been a pleasure being a (however peripheral) part of your journey of the last few years. I can offer nothing but the sincerest of best wishes for the next stage.

    1. I'm never going to be free of Japan, and will be there a month every year or two. Thank you, of course for the sentiment.

  5. Congratulations. I do find that the more I travel, the more I appreciate Australia. We really do have the best of it here.

    1. I have never been. I might have gone while in Japan the first or second time, as it's much closer than Toronto. Nothing against Australia, but I couldn't think of a reason to go so far to another Anglophone country, when I really like a cooler and more damp climate, but then I didn't go to NZ either, as I could go to BC for similar climate and landscape. I know I am missing something about both, for certain.

    2. I feel the same way about travel to Canada. It's a long way to go for a country that's not that much different to Australia (I imagine).

    3. No problem, Whistler and Vancouver are already lousy with Australians. But really, you can get the mountain and fjord landscape of our west in NZ. Our little bit of European in Québec...? Why not go to Europe?