Foreign tourists disappearing from Kamakura has finally allowed locals to be free to leisurely gaze at the Big Buddha, pray silently at a temple, and hate on the tattooed ne’er-do-wells. So great is the change that a collective audible sigh of relief can almost be heard. One senior local, however, actually misses having the visitors from overseas around! Can you believe that!?
“I don’t have anyone to practice my English skills on,” moans 78 year old Myaku Amarinai, reluctantly closing his manga featuring a center spread of teenage bikini models. “I want to tell someone about how we Japanese love to hear the sound of chirping cicadas in summer, or how we appreciate the simplicity of nature, or how unique our culture is.
“I like to score points and go on about how Americans love tomato sauce, and clog up their arteries with all that cheese and butter. I miss that.” But surely there are still plenty of foreigners with whom he can engage in conversation? “I prefer to go after the low hanging fruit. Tourists tend to be amazed by anything, but a long-term resident will correct me. They’ll tell me some uncomfortable truths when I’m trying to go for a low blow or make them feel guilty.
“They cockblock when I’m LARPing as an old man who’s full of spirituality and wisdom,” said Amarinai as he tried to inconspicuously stuff an onigiri wrapper into a hedge. “Screw them, and screw iPhones and Google for making information so readily accessible. We don’t want that technology in Japan. Are iPhones related to baldness? I wouldn’t be surprised if that was the case. I see so many bald white guys these days. What kind of future do their mixed-race kids have?”
Amarinai, who swears that Tsuri Bakanishi is the epitome of cinematic comedy (“It’s funny because they place more importance on fishing than weddings, funerals, and executive board meetings.”) shakes his head while throwing out another question. “Did you know that they have sake bars in New York and Paris? Those people can drink it, but they can’t drink it and enjoy the same level of satisfaction as a Japanese man who has just finished a brutal week’s work.”
The loneliness felt by Amarinai is the loneliness felt by many this summer in Kamakura. Yuigahama, the local beach, is largely deserted this year. The beach houses, often rented by randy sunlovers for showers and obligation-free sex, are vacant. The temporary shops along the beach are also closed, resulting in pain for the well-known domestic businesses which specialize in quick, untraceable, cash transactions.
For the foreseeable future, it looks like inbound tourism is as dead as the MD Player, meaning that Amarinai will be forced to up his game and engage with foreign residents, or at least just spit on the sidewalk in front of them as they walk past him.