Our Life in Japan

By James Fallows

I made a deal with our sons to stop using them as cameo figures in articles once they got to an age when they might come across a magazine around the house and see something about themselves. Which is to say, after their crucial cameo role in this 1982 article about our first computer.

They're safely above the age of consent now, and have given their consent to some pictures of their year as students in Japanese public school, just over 20 years ago. This slide show, put together by Jennie Rothenberg Gritz, accompanies a brief dispatch in the magazine (subscribe!) about how our old Japanese neighborhood, "Pleasantville," looks on a recent return these many years later -- and how surprising it seems, compared with the Japan we knew then and the China we have recently experienced.

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Here the kids sit on our back deck with some schoolmates, playing jan ken pon -- rock- paper- scissors -- to see who gets the first move in a game. More pictures with the story, including a glimpse of the tiny plot of grass that we used to make the kids "mow," with household scissors. Plus this picture, below, of our younger son watching the "packers" help customers aboard at our local commuter train station. I'm sure he was thinking that he and his brother would have to get on the next, equally crowded train, and that his parents would be telling him that it was a great adventure and would be good for him.

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This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2010/08/our-life-in-japan/61364/