Guesthouse character

A girl in my guesthouse, Megumi, is fed up with the blanket news coverage of the crisis. Last week, together with another guesthouse resident, she went out to rent a video for a change of atmosphere. Surprisingly, they picked 2012, a disaster film about city-swallowing tsunamis.

Watching DVDs is just one way Japanese have been coping, although I doubt many except Megumi would choose 2012 right now. Apparently, in DVD stores re-opening in tsunami-struck towns, returning customers, who are now refugees, have been asking the policy on washed away rentals. Some have even wanted to pay extension fees. 

Megumi has carried on undisturbed by the crisis. She did not even mind having to make a 3 hour walk home after the main earthquake. “It was kind of fun”, she told me.

Although she often wears a cotton mask over her mouth, like most mask wearing Tokyoites, this has nothing to do with radiation fears, it`s to stop passing on colds.

Since moving into our compact two-floor home last autumn, she has made an increasingly bizarre and unexpected impact. Thanks to her, we now have a Collins English-Mandarin Phrasebook in our small kitchen library. I noticed it on Thursday. Seeing it shocked me because I had thrown it away on Wednesday, it`s dreadful.

Megumi told me she`d fished the book out of the kitchen garbage. “It`s mottainai (a waste) to just throw it away. Somebody might use it. I might even use it” she said optimistically. As she can`t speak English or Mandarin, I think that day might be a long way off.

Guesthouse kitchen. Two articles are displayed on the table. The first one explains Chinese New Year, the second one gives tips on how to avoid radiation.


Decorating the porch area has become her most recent craze. For this, she used another of my discards – a map of Copenhagen I had buried deep in the bin. I can`t complain really. At least the map gives our guesthouse character, if a very eccentric one. 


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