An Absence Of Mirrors

This is the suggestion in the Daily Post today:

You wake up one morning to a world without mirrors. How does your life — from your everyday routines to your perception of yourself — change?

I don’t have to imagine this. It happened to me.

I spent a few days in Ofunato, a village on the north-east coast of Japan. I picked wasabi (horseradish) with the people with whom I stayed. It was great fun.

There’s wasn’t a mirror anywhere on the place. None in the bathrooms or the bedrooms.

There was, however, a small shard of a mirror on a shelf next to the sink in the barn. I spotted it after I had been there a few days and I assumed the shard of mirror was there so people could wipe away any mud from the fields if any got on their faces.

It had been a few days since I had seen my face. When I looked, I was shocked. Who the heck was this long-nosed, narrow-faced man staring back at me?

After a few days of talking to Japanese people, my face was strange to me.

I wondered how I looked to the people I was staying with.

I hadn’t seen another Westerner in the time I had been there.

Maybe I looked as strange to them as I had looked to myself.

Turning it around, how did I ‘see’ the Japanese people I was with?

Did I ‘see’ them in a certain way – without looking properly and without seeing – even when they were so different from one another.

Would I be less able to tell two Japanese people apart than another Japanese person would?

Revolving thoughts teaching me to think again.

8 thoughts on “An Absence Of Mirrors

    1. Thanks – It was a meaningful time for me. And tinged now with questions to which I don’t want answers. Ofunato is on the north-east coast of the main island, Honshu. The village is on a small inlet like a tiny fjord and right in the path of the tsunami that hit that area.

      I checked and the man I got to know there is OK, but I am sure that the bay took a beating.


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