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  #26  
Old 06-13-2005, 02:13 PM
haswtch haswtch is offline
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And Then?????
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  #27  
Old 06-13-2005, 02:28 PM
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rach are u gonna circle the airport some more or big this baby in?
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Old 06-13-2005, 07:21 PM
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Sorry had a strenuous day yesterday, had to go for an emergency facial! Nothing like tropical sun to ruin your skin!
Ok, let me get a big cuppa and then I'll be back.
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Old 06-13-2005, 07:43 PM
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Just how big is this cuppa??? You've been gone for 20 minutes!!! Come on - do tell more!!!
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Old 06-13-2005, 08:58 PM
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Default Ok, ok! - part three! (now stop moaning!)

Jimmy smiled and leaned forward, putting his hand against the glass.
"Hello Sis", his voice was clear, even though there was a barrier between us, "Thanks for coming."
I put my own sweaty palm to his; and, when we removed them, I realised we had both left heated imprints on the smooth surface. It wasn't just me that was nervous about this whole situation.

We all sat down, Jim; Mr Bored-Guard; Ms Efficiency and myself.
Actually, the first thing I wanted to do when I finally got to see Jim was to kick his behind so hard he squealed; just like our childhood encounters all over again! Luckily for him there was a quarter of an inch of toughened glass between us.

Guards and translators forgotten, we quickly lapsed into our usual flow of banter and sarcasm - well, we are British after all.
Yes, he was fine; yes, he was getting everyone's letters. No, he didn't need anything apart from books; yes he had heard from the consulate; no, he didn't have any urgent messages; yes, he was very safe (thankfully because he is kept seperate from other prioners as he is non-Japanese -there were no problems in that respect). All of the questions that the rest of the family had made me memorise came spilling out as I relaxed a little in the strange environment.

After a few minutes of rapid-fire speech, we remembered the clerk who was frantically trying to spell "blinding geezer" and "Worcestershire". Jim asked if she needed us to stop every few minutes to catch up, but she said that she was fine and we could carry on.

Obviously, there were things that were tricky to discuss. I really wanted to know what his living conditions were like and whether the regime was as brutal as we had been led to believe. I had googled "Japanese Prisons" and had been horrified by what I had read and seen. Having to sleep and sit in various positions as regulated; silence to be observed except when permission had been given to speak; forced and menial labour.
It all hearkened back to the old Victorian penitentiaries that disgraced our society before there were wide sweeping penal reforms in the UK. Mind you, in Britain we are still housing some prisoners in institutions that were built in the 1840's and have only recently (past 20 years) had plumbing put in so that prisoners no longer have to "slop out" every day.

The thirty minutes flew by. It was like watching sand racing through an hourglass! Jim looked well; he didn't have that prison "blue" that I have seen so often. He told me that he had been doing a lot of marching and was learning to stand to attention. I wanted to shout "Marching!! this is the twenty-first century!!" but all I could manage was "Wow, what great exercise and getting lots of sunlight, too. Smashing!" I hate trying to be Pollyanna when all I want to be is Garfield. He said that for the first three weeks he had eaten very little as they had not arranged his vegetarian diet, but was now on track.



The prison had finally placed him in a work detail; he was in the middle of a training week. He was learning to tie different kinds of knots - I have no idea what they will do with all of these, but I suspect in the room next door, people are learning how to untie knotty string.
We talked a little of his baby son - whom he has never seen - he said he had received all of the pictures but couldn't keep them, he could look at them though, before they took them away. He is only allowed to keep ten letters at any one time, so had to try and digest everything when it arrived before it was removed.


Suddenly, the grumpy guard who had been softly snoring woke himself up and held up two fingers by way of a warning that the visit was nearly over. We began to say our goodbyes. Jim had asked me to find him a writing book so he could improve his Japanese, I promised to bring one in when I visited the next day. He was learning Thai and Japanese in his free time. When he is released - latest date is 2009 - he wants to do a PHD in linguistics, way to go, Jim!

Waving like a lunatic, I stepped back out of the cubicle and shut the door behind me. I wanted to cry and laugh all at the same time. It had been heartbreaking and hilarious, simultaneously. Walking back through the office the gaggle of guards behind the desk had doubled and they all smiled and bowed as I made my way out, pausing at the locker to remove my passport and other belongings.

My kind interpreter, from earlier in the day, appeared from behind a doorway and walked me to the gate. He bowed very respectfully and I found myself bowing just as low. I did have respect for these people; I had seen with my own eyes that my brother was well and safe, these staff were keeping him that way. In a British prison he would have to fend entirely for himself, and Jimmy is no fighter, he's a philosophy reading poet.

I thanked the kind guard in Japanese.
"Arigato Gozaimas" I said in my best accent. His eyes lit up and he said "You are very welcome, Prisoner Sister".
In another world he may have wanted to know more about my culture and I could have asked him about his; but that was not why fate had brought us together. He had done his job with grace and compasssion and I was grateful for that.

I stepped into the gate house.

Now, all I had to do was persuade someone to phone me a cab and I could then finally get off the prison grounds. After all, I had some books to buy before I came back tomorrow to do it all again.
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  #31  
Old 06-13-2005, 09:05 PM
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Arrggghhh now we have to wait AGAIN for the end of the story !!!

I'm glad your brother seems to be in good conditions.

Phil
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  #32  
Old 06-13-2005, 09:14 PM
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Phil, you want me to carry on?????
Bloody hell! Well there is still the part about me kidnappping a guard to take him to the phone box; the biggest goldfish in the world; subway journeys amongst the little people; drinking hot pepsi and buying "emergency" shoes......
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  #33  
Old 06-13-2005, 09:17 PM
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Get on with it!
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  #34  
Old 06-13-2005, 09:17 PM
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ohhhh that sounds interesting

Glad that your brother is doing well and that they have sorted out is diet. They obviously treat him well, and look after him.
It's sad that he isn't allowed to keep any photo's and only 10 letters at a time, do you know why this is?.
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  #35  
Old 06-13-2005, 09:33 PM
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OK! I will post FINAL bit tomorrow (I thought I had already finished but Phil is just SO demanding!)

The last part is more about what I found in Japan, I guess. It is such a cool country!

They aren't allowed to keep hardly anything in their cells, really minimal amounts of possessions. The Japanese prisoners sleep in dormitories on mats on the floor, and have to roll them up daily, so possessions would be impratical. Westerners are fortunate to have single cells.

Below some pics 1)a Japanese McDonalds and 2) The Imperial Gardens, Tokyo
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File Type: jpg impgardens.jpg (112.4 KB, 114 views)
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  #36  
Old 06-13-2005, 09:50 PM
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I'm so glad your brother is doing well... The Imperial Gardens are beautiful!

You are really a gifted writer..... You have a way of making me feel as though I am right there in your descriptions and the humor you add is great!

Deb
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  #37  
Old 06-13-2005, 10:01 PM
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I am glad your brother seems to be well! Your story is very well written,keep telling it!
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  #38  
Old 06-14-2005, 07:42 AM
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So glad that your brother is doing well!

Can't wait to hear about your findings in Japan - and the guard kidnapping incident!!
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  #39  
Old 06-14-2005, 03:56 PM
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Loved Your Story I Am Glad Your Brother Is Doing Alright That Means Your Are Better As Well. My Prayers Are With You Both.
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  #40  
Old 06-14-2005, 04:18 PM
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Thanks for sharing your story. Im glad that your brother is doing well. Yes, we do wanna hear about the second day!!
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  #41  
Old 06-14-2005, 04:33 PM
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Cool...seems all is going well....can't wait to hear more!
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  #42  
Old 06-14-2005, 04:57 PM
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Great story! Glad your brother is OK. The Japanese McDonald's didn't come through (unless I didn't do it right), but it probably looks like the rest. Can't wait to hear the rest of the story!
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  #43  
Old 06-28-2005, 01:10 AM
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Default James in Japan

Hi Ladyarcles... have you heard of the Nick Baker story too. He is a young man detained in Japan now for three years. I know his mum Iris. IT's a tragic event but we keep trying to do what we can to raise awareness.

Take care,
Kayt
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  #44  
Old 06-28-2005, 01:45 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kayt67
Hi Ladyarcles... have you heard of the Nick Baker story too. He is a young man detained in Japan now for three years. I know his mum Iris. IT's a tragic event but we keep trying to do what we can to raise awareness.

Take care,
Kayt
Yes his parents and my brother's mum are in touch.
The two cases are very similar.
When I visited Fuchu I asked if he had met Nick, but he said he hadn't yet.
There is also the case of Chris Snell who I believe is now back in the UK.

Thanks for your support!
Rachel xx
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Old 06-28-2005, 03:46 AM
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Default The last part of my visit to Fuchu Prison

Fourthly and Finally!

Having spent an interesting day nosing around the Tokyo suburbs I retired early. I wanted to get a good night’s rest to be refreshed for the following day.
I had dined on noodles(warm), ham, onion and pea sandwiches (warm), Pepsi (hot) and an ice- lolly (relatively cold – but only because I hid it under a packet of Kleenex). You may wonder why my supper was a strange combination of temperatures. Well, there was a very enthusiastic shop assistant in the Seven-Eleven. When I asked him to warm my pre-cooked meal (by my pointing at the microwave and making a “ding” noise) he thought that I wanted all of my purchases to be heated through. Which was good for noodles, passable for the sandwich - but bloody horrible for the Pepsi! Still, it is an acquired taste and once it had cooled a bit it was almost palatable.

I awoke the next day feeling exhausted. There had been an earth tremor in the night, which felt like someone kicking the bed. I had awoken with a start and tried to remember the earthquake drill. Not sure if my memory served me correctly, I stuck my passport in my bloomers and went and lay in the bath. After half an hour and no more movement I seemed to remember that it might have been the tornado drill. Well, I can’t help it, I’m bloody English and we don’t have natural disasters- well, not unless you count Sir Elton John. I spent the rest of the night staring out of the window, feeling alone and scared as I realised how fragile life was and how much I didn’t want to end up in a Japanese hospital where they might just amputate for the fun of it. I tuned in to the US forces radio that is broadcast publicly there and spent a mind numbing few hours listening to a show featuring an aeronautical engineer discussing the benefits of fertiliser in the rose garden. Don’t ask, I have no idea!

I staggered down for the hotel’s bizarrely named “ContiMental Breakfast”, the reason for which became apparent as I helped myself to bacon, sausages, fondue and turnips. Fortified by a gallon of strong coffee, having refused a large cup of pink gloop, I was ready to face the prison again.

My second visit went well, the staff remembered me and allowed me to copy from the previous day's forms. Jim was pleased to see me and twice as pleased when I told him that I had bought and deposited the books he wanted. The thirty minutes flew by and before I knew it we were saying goodbye again. I didn’t know for definite when I was going to see him again, as it is an expensive trip to make, but I promised him that when I could, I would. We pressed our hands to the glass in farewell. I left before the tears spilled out of my eyes, giving away my true emotions. I found my way back to the gate house and thanked the staff as I left.

Then, horror of horrors! I realised that I hadn’t booked a cab for my return journey and there was no chance of stopping one in the street as it wasn’t a street at all, just a long prison drive way. My feet were absolutely killing me already as I had my nice smart boots on. I realised that I couldn’t possibly make the quarter of a mile walk to the road. I had two choices; I could wait for a cab to drop someone off and then take it back to the hotel, or I could book one on the telephone.

The mime performance that I did to the reception staff should have won me an Oscar! Instead they finally understood that I didn’t want to wash their windows or commandeer a camel (you had to be there) but that I wanted to phone and book a taxi. I was not able to use their office phone but one of the guards said “phone card” and so I produced mine. He then pointed fifty yards down the drive where there was a phone box, indicating I should phone from there.

Now, therein lay the problem, no amount of me shouting “Fuchu Prison to Station Hotel” at the taxi company was going to get them to come and pick me up. So I tried to explain that; despite the staff having given me a taxi number, my possession of a phone card and the close vicinity of a phone box – I was still as helpless as a baby in a Sherman Tank. After my pretending to swoon and trying to look like a damsel in distress, the “phone card” guard realised that there really was only one way to get rid of me. He was going to have to take me to the phone box and make the call for me.

He adjusted his hat and brushed some imaginary dust from his shoulders. “Come you” he said and waved me towards the driveway. He marched towards the phone with me following at his heels, I’m not a great marcher but soon got the hang of it! We both squeezed into the box. He stood no more than five foot tall and I am five foot eight. The peak of his cap was in my mouth and his face was squashed between my rather large chest and the glass. He proceeded to make the call for me, shouting and sweating as we used up the oxygen supply very quickly.

Across the driveway was a working party tending the gardens, being overseen by a burly guard with a gun of some kind, it may have been a pistol, I don’t know. Again, I am English; we only use guns to decorate the walls and to fire over the Queen’s head on her birthday. He looked at the scene unfolding in the phone box. All he must have been able to see was a large blonde woman suffocating a much smaller guard who was shouting “Take me to the Station Hotel”. No doubt the possibility that he was witnessing a kidnap must have crossed his mind. He squinted at us, in a very determined manner, his fingers twitching above his gun. As we both extricated ourselves from the tiny booth, the overseer relaxed and took his hand away from his holster. My helper gave me back my phone card, tapped his watch and held up five fingers. For the first time in two days, I understood what someone was saying straight away. We bowed at each other and he left me to wait by the prison gate. As if by magic, the taxi came exactly five minutes later and returned me to my hotel without further incident.

I spent the rest of the afternoon trying to purchase some “emergency shoes”. These are shoes that you need to buy because the ones you are wearing are starting to cause you permanent damage. However, I have western size feet and Japanese women have Barbie size feet. Having decided against galoshes or football boots, I was left with the choice of either open toed sandals or a man’s brogue, as that was all they had to fit me. The sandals felt like heaven for the first twenty steps and then my poor, punished feet swelled up like barrage balloons and became two huge blisters. I hobbled back through the metro system like a giant with bunions. I had chosen rush hour to travel and so spent an excruciating hour on the train with people staring up my nose (sometimes I hate being tall) and the whole of bloody Tokyo standing on my feet! I got back to the sanctuary of my hotel room, stripped naked and hung me feet out of the window to cool down in the rain. My trip was officially over, and now I wanted to get home.

Would I do it all over again?
You bet!
I’ll let you know how it goes!

The End (definitely!!)
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  #46  
Old 06-28-2005, 03:58 AM
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just remember: itchy knee son she go.... thats one two three four five in japan.. Thats where i am living for the moment.... LOL sayonnora
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  #47  
Old 06-28-2005, 04:04 AM
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Wow, whereabouts are you?
And what on earth are you doing there?
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Old 06-28-2005, 04:19 AM
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MCAS IWAKUNI Yamaguchi Prefecture. Way southern mainland. In the middle of no where lol



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Wow, whereabouts are you?
And what on earth are you doing there?
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  #49  
Old 06-28-2005, 04:24 AM
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Wow, is that a military thing?
Hope you are enjoying the local culture. It is a fascinating country.
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Old 06-28-2005, 04:29 AM
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Yeah its a military thingy (LOL) Japan is very fascinating, but in my mind I had imagined it being sooooooo very different and some areas are actually very westerized, so its not so bad.

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Wow, is that a military thing?
Hope you are enjoying the local culture. It is a fascinating country.
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