It is of no particular note that thirty years after James Bond’s “From Russia with Love” premiered in theaters that I found myself in Japan, but there is nonetheless an analog to be found between Kronsteen’s vain attempt to steal a cryptograph, and my own attempts to break the code that is Japan.
I first lived in Japan right out of high school some twenty years ago. Growing up, I was greatly influenced by my own father’s appreciation he had developed for Japan having lived there as a serviceman and subsequently as an engineer equally influenced by such concepts as total quality systems that had found fertile root in the post-war factories of Japan. Like many kids without any real sense of the world, my appreciation of Japan only broke the surface of historical curiosities; my visions of Japan not much more than dreams of becoming of a samurai or ninja “bad ass”, as it were. When I landed there back in the late summer of 1992, I barely spoke more than a single sentence: “I am Ward.” And I would leave brimming to overflow with an entirely new language and culture. But that is for another story.
Amongst the fumes of buses and city noise of Kanazawa, I found myself a world filled with the seemingly incomprehensible. Lacking any real primer, I immersed myself into Japanese culture much like a child, learning more from inductive means listening by ear and then rote repetition than the more traditional deductive texts.