I spent the latest election day at an orchard in Japan. While America was deciding the fate of its future, I was picking apples, mooning over Mt. Fuji, and watching the votes coming in on tv.
I woke up that day feeling certain that Clinton would win. That’s what all the polls had suggested, and wasn’t Trump’s candidacy just a joke anyway? I drove with my host to the Tourist Info Center to pick up our newest helper, a girl from Australia. On the way we watched the polling results on the dashboard tv in the car. Trump was ahead. “That’s strange,” we both thought, and conjectured how some of the more populous states hadn’t voted yet. Throughout the day we were hopping in and out of the car, checking the results on tv. Back to the Volunteer house, then to the field for some Thai guests to pick apples and persimmon, to the main house for lunch, back to the Volunteer house, and finally to another field to walk the dog. By dinnertime it was clear that Trump had won the election (Japan lives 14 hours in the future). Over dinner of rice, salad, stew, and pickled vegetables, we watched Trump’s victory speech. As the only American in the house, everyone turned to me for some kind of explanation. What could I say?
Since then just about every new person I meet asks about Trump and the election. They want to know what I think and how on earth it could happen. From these conversations it’s clear that the rest of the world isn’t very keen on our newest president.
The only person who wasn’t surprised was Mr. K. During tea time the next day he gazed sagely out on the Japanese garden and observed that “In America, anything can happen.”
Speaking of elections, Minami Alps city elections took place the week after the US Presidential one. About 18 people were running for 17 slots in the city council. Lots of campaigning took place in the week leading up to the election. Candidates drove slowly through the streets in cars decked out with big signboards and loudspeakers. From 9am until 8pm the cars trolled the neighborhoods, repeatedly announcing the candidate’s names and a request for your vote. If they passed people outside they would creep extra slowly along the road and wave at the person until they were noticed. When cars came up behind them, they would pull over and apologize before requesting their vote as well. One night I was walking home in the dark. They elicited my head nod, then pressed me to return home safely. After witnessing several days of this, H decided she wanted to share in the election fun. One morning when they drove by the persimmon operation, she ran out to the roadside and gave them a great big wave. They thanked her profusely for the kind acknowledgement, and drove on with even more cheer than before. Though this campaign style was rather noisy and gave no information about the candidates’ aims, I appreciated the goodwill and sense of community that it brought to the town.