The Town of Sakura - 桜町

Recommended Listening:

Kaze ni Naru - Tsuji Ayano (HTTP)
Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence - Rin' (HTTP)

You know, there was something special about my growing up as a weeaboo in rural Kansas in the early 2000s. I can't quite put my finger on it, but despite my longing to be somewhere else, this particular set of circumstances will always be close to my heart.

It is likely I will never be able to express this to a satisfactory degree. This both saddens me deeply and inspires me to continue my attempts to do so. The above-mentioned pieces of music were very deliberately chosen to aid in the expression of this very fleeting and evanescent feeling. Perhaps ironically, I didn't find these pieces until long after the 2000s. They do, however, elicit a certain wistful sadness that connects me to this period in my life.

Those who know me personally will confirm that it is very much like me to spend my adult years in a state of wistful nostalgia for a time when I almost exclusively experienced wistful sadness and a desire to be somewhere else. My childhood was very isolated and sheltered. Connection to the outside world was limited to weekly trips to the (small) local libraries, whatever television stations our antenna could pick up, the radio, and the internet. Of course, all of these, with the exception of the library and the internet, exhibited exclusively very mainstream content.

In the early 2000s, I developed an interest in Japanese art and culture. My interest in these things did not begin with anime, which I'm told is a somewhat atypical experience. Of course, interest in anime followed naturally from this interest. I was a self-described japanophile during this time. I was doing my best to learn Japanese, given the resources available to me, I consumed as much Japanese art, music and literature as I could, I played go, I played the shamisen, I wroke long haiku, I practiced brush calligraphy, I even made a shakuhachi from bamboo-like cane which grew naturally around my house.

I was eventually placed in foster care due to abusive conditions at home, officially putting an end to this wistful period. Obviously this was for the best, as my family life was quite abusive, but in a very deep part of my soul I will always be the teenage weeaboo playing shakuhachi and writing haiku in the endless seas of grass on the Kansas plains.

At night I frequently have dreams of an imaginary place called Sakura, Kansas. It is a small village which feels almost like a peaceful rural hamlet from an old JRPG. It is an enclave of weebiness somewhere in southern Sumner County. Here it is perpetually October 2004. The houses there are in a hybrid style, something between a western and a Japanese house. There are few people there, but they play go, they make Japanese music, write haiku, and also participate in many other 2000s weeb culture staples. They watch Evangelion and play Final Fantasy on old late-90s CRTs.

I know this sounds really stupid, but I frequently return to this place in my dreams and while it is a homesick feeling, it is how I connect with earlier versions of my self.

I attempted to draw something like it once: