A perverse appeal

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  • Published 20061205
  • ISBN: 9780733319396
  • Extent: 266 pp
  • Paperback (234 x 153mm)

I WAS AN accidental tourist. I travelled to Japan to see my daughter, Nora, who – like many young Australians – financed her travels by teaching English. Nora went to Japan as a guest worker, and I went as the guest worker’s mother. I’d travelled in Europe, but not in Asia, and I wasn’t looking forward to it. I thought I’d feel totally lost and way out of my comfort zone as a tourist. Of course, that happened. The feeling never left me. But, instead of finding it scary, I found it exhilarating. I kept going back for more.

Nora was first posted to Hiroshima, then after two years to Okinawa, where she lived at Ginowan in a flat overlooking the US Futenma Marine Corps Air Station. Futenma is one of thirty-nine American military bases that cover 10 per cent of the island, and one of the largest. Early each morning we woke to the boom of theStars and Stripes as it blared from loudspeakers on the base, followed by the Battle Hymn of the Marines. One day an American military helicopter crashed into the university just up the road, luckily at a time when the students were absent.

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