Wednesday, June 07, 2006

In Which Yuko Teaches Her Elders to be Creative

The Sign Says: J Power Culture Course / Scrapbooking Class / Lecturer: Mrs. Yuko Elliot (Kazamaura Village)

J Power is the power company commissioning the new nuclear power plant being constructed in Oma, about ten minutes north of us. In order to show their good will toward, pacify and otherwise mollify the population that they are endangering, the power company has built a sparkling new community centre (called “Wing” or, in the vernacular, “Oui-n-gu”) that offers all kinds of subsidized programs. Yuko is, both by heritage and conviction, a staunch opponent of nuclear power but . . . they have a corner on the “culture” market, so what can you do?

“Pregnant? Why, yes, now that you mention it. Only for another month, though.”

Yuko has been a Creative Memories consultant ever since she returned to Japan several years ago but, between graduate school and working at a mental hospital as a clinical psychologist, she was never able to do anything about it beyond buying $100 worth of products a month in order to keep her status. However, now that she has been unshackled from the degrading bonds of salaried indenture (the hierarchy of corporate and/or public employment) she is finally able to enjoy Creative Memories. And Japan is a country ripe for a Creative Memories harvest. The women who came to Yuko’s class have been taking photos for decades but, like most people around here, they were just keeping all their pictures in boxes or stuffed into those free little photo holding “albums” you get at the print shop. Now they are on their merry way to creating sophisticated libraries of handcrafted, beautifully designed family albums.

Incidentally, while walking into the “Wing” I happened to catch a glimpse of what appeared to be my cousin out of the corner of my eye. On closer inspection, it proved to be a Shimokita promotional poster featuring a picture of my mother, sister, two cousins, Michael, and a number of people from Ajigasawa Chapel enjoying the Nanohana (Rape Seed) Festival. Today I discovered that the same poster adorns the hallway of my junior high school, right in front of the staff room. I’ll have to get one as a souvenir.