I thought it was a national phenomenon. I was lookin for any possible explanation, but any excuse I found for them just didn’t seem to fit. For instance, I thought that maybe my blonde hair and blue eyes had something to do with it…that they made me frightening and unusual. And then, I traveled around to other parts of the country and found that the standard I had drawn didn’t apply anywhere else. The only conclusion was that, for some reason, dogs in Shimonoseki, Japan, just don’t like me. Dogs in Hiroshima, Tokyo, Ube, were fine. But Shimonoseki dogs cringe away from me, or start barking maniacally. It’s extremely disconcerting, especially since I am a full-blown dog-person, and I’ve been living here for a year!
But yesterday, the legacy changed.
I went to lunch with a friend, Yukiko, from a local uni, and then we went for a walk to the top of a mountain nearby and around. It was really nice, a beautiful day, and even though there were no flowers (except for a lonely magnolia tree), the park was still lovely with all the greenery. As we were walking, I told her about the general loathing Shimonoseki dogs have of me and she just laughed. We came around a bend and there were some people walking three little long-haired dachsunds. They were so cute, and even though I know that it will end in sadness, I can’t help but try to pet them. I moved forward, asking if it was ok to pet them. Per norm, one dog shied away, another started barking crazily, and the other just stood there staring at me. Disappointment must have fallen on my face because the woman walking the only calm dog walked a bit closer to me and the dog actually approached and let me pet it! I was overjoyed!
It didn’t last long as the parents did not have the patience to indulge a love-sick foreignor for more than 30 seconds, but it was enough. Yukiko was laughing at me and commented that it must be a miracle! I told her it was a very special day indeed. We continued on our path which led us right along the oceanside. We started to sit down, but I noticed a woman walking a little shitzu, wearing a sweater and blue bows in his ears. I moved over and asked if it was alright for me to pet him. She consented most heartily and the dog leaped over to me, licking my hands, and jumping into my lap as I squatted down into a more efficient dog-petting position. The woman began to talk to Yukiko and ask her questions about me and where I was from and such, but I was only half-listening. I was enraptured by this adorable dog (I don’t usually like small dogs at all) that seemed to be just as enamored with me. I looked up just long enough to realize that the woman had asked me a question directly, so I asked her to repeat it. She was wondering where I had been in Japan. I told her and she continued the conversation with Yukiko.
After some time, Yukiko asked the woman what her name was. The woman simply replied that the dog’s name was “John” and went on from there, asking me if there was any place in Japan I still wanted to go to before I left (Yukiko had explained at some point that I’m leaving soon to go back to America. I said the first city that popped into my head, “Nagasaki.” She got an overwhelmed look on her face and then mentioned that it was much too far! But Beppu, or Yufuin, were much closer and very nice, as there are some very good onsens (hot springs) in those areas. I just smiled and said that in a couple weeks a friend of mine and I are going to Usa, Japan, which is on the way to Beppu. (I didn’t mention that the reason we’re going there is because it’s the same spelling as USA) After some time, Yukiko seemed to get annoyed by the woman who wouldn’t tell us her name, but only the name of the dog, and I think she was just tired in general. So, she asked where the nearest bus stop was and then if I wanted to go inside a nearby old-style Dutch windmill. We parted ways with the woman and she kept muttering something about Beppu and Yufuin and then laughing. I didn’t understand because my Japanese isn’t really all that great. Turns out, she was offering TO TAKE ME to Yufuin…but Nagasaki was much too far; she couldn’t take me there. Yukiko was kind of amused by the whole thing. She said that we had no idea who the woman was, only that she was “John’s mother.”
All in all, I would say it was a pretty successful day. 🙂