The Normal Files

a caveat:

everything that follows is a work of fiction.

even that which has actually happened.

reality is what you can get away with

and i don’t think i could possibly get away

with you believing any of this.

if you did, you would only believe it subjectively anyway

Parks and Exhibition

In my mind the best public facility is a clean, free and accessible bathroom. Second to a clean bathroom I really appreciate a good city park. Living in Japan is then an exceptionally fortunate situation as public parks are abound and each is equipped with public toilets. The toilets are invariably clean as they are of the Japanese variety, which means they are basically holes in the ground. A hole in the ground, to a westerner, may not seem like the ideal place to poop, but because no physical contact is made with the toilet, they are far more sanitary than the western chair style toilet. My appreciation for a clean bathroom is one based in necessity, not frequent use. My appreciation for parks is the opposite a result of frequent use rather than necessity. Much of my life, I am lucky to say, has been spent in parks.
The majority of time I have spent in parks has been to skateboard, at skateparks. I also love a good swing set, jungle gym and any slide that seems particularly dangerous. Though parks that contain these kinds of things are typically catering to young children this has never stopped me from enjoying their facilities. Then there are parks, or aspects of parks, that cater to the general population, young and old. These parks contain basketball courts, fitness stations, and in Germany, ping pong tables. There are bio-parks for nature enthusiasts, zoo-parks for captivity enthusiasts, and, in Albuquerque, bum parks for drinking/sleeping enthusiasts. In Japan every park, despite its intended purpose or design, is a place people go to exhibit their enthusiasm for what ever it is they are enthused about.
To make a very broad generality, the Japanese are an incredibly focused people. In America we are proud of choice and this may lead us to be easily distracted. But, to quote on oft worshiped king, we want, no feel we deserve, to 'have it our way' regardless of the effects this has on our attention spans and decision making skills. We like to think of ourselves as renaissance people able to take on a handful of hobbies and express ourselves accurately with each. However in my own experience I have noticed that when presented with so many options I get lost. I become adrift in an ocean of possibilities and rather than pursuing my various interests I spend an obscene amount of time deliberating over which interest to pursue.
In Japan it seems that everybody has one hobby and they give into it completely. They spend every moment of free time, which in such a work-centric society is never much, pursuing this one specific interest. It may have something to do with their samurai ancestors. It is written in the Hagakure, a famous samurai manual of sorts, 'It is bad when one thing becomes two. One should not look for anything else in the way of the samurai. It is the same for anything else that is called a way. If one understands things in this manner, he should be able to hear about all ways and be more in accord with his own'. Of course it may also have nothing whatsoever to do with this, or it may be a result of the subconscious resonance of such thinking. I can't really say with any certainty. Whatever the reason is, the result is that most are incredibly good at what they do. Whether  or not it is necessary, whatever it is they do, they do it in public parks.
As a skateboarder I cannot skate in the privacy of my own home, I must go out in public, a park or otherwise, to find space enough skate. The same is also true for runners, jugglers, bikers, etc; many of which I have seen practiced in parks in Japan. It is not however the case for all hobbies, for example hip-hop dancing and fashion modeling. Yet the hobby I have seen both in public parks.
Hip-hop, or B-Boy dancing, is definitely the more popular of the two. It is also  one of the goofiest and most endearing things I have ever witnessed. A single teenager, or maybe a group of two or three, each wearing headphones. With no regard for the world around them, they get down. As a cultural reference I offer the scene in Napoleon Dynamite, wherein Napoleon is dancing in front of the mirror in his bedroom. Now imagine that Napoleon is a Japanese b-boy and his bedroom is a city park. If this reference doesn't help, watch this video of some kids I saw getting down in Nagoya.