Tuesday, February 9, 2010


During my flight to Korea late last year, Oto Na Ri was one of the featured films. Instead of sleeping throughout the flight, I decided to watch this film, after all I am into not-so-popular films. There were other films but the synopsis of this film got me interested.

Satoshi and Nanao know about each other's existence by the sounds their neighbor makes through the thin wall. Even though they do pay attention to the sounds next door, they actually have never met each other, or make any attempt to meet the other person. The movie tells two separate stories that happen in parallel and focuses on the lives of two people approaching their thirties, and the doubts they have about work, life, and love. more here

I also thought that maybe after watching this film, I could learn more about Japan. And I was right. The movie was simple, as summarized above. It’s about a photographer and a florist being neighbors for a long time but didn’t have the chance to see each other. In other countries, this scenario seems impossible but not here in Japan . For more than a year of residing in my present apato (apartment), I still have no idea who my neighbors are, what they look like. Sometimes the corridors have an eerie feeling same as that of hospitals or chapels. Before I can reach my room, I pass regularly to at least six more doors. The sounds of shower, the smell of curry or the lights inside often tell me that, yes, I have neighbors, and I am not alone on the seventh floor.

On the said movie, there were scenes that the two characters are getting used to the “sounds” of each other. The footsteps, the key chains, the singing and the likes. The movie also showed how annoyed they were if the noise generated by each other exceeded the tolerable level. In order to let this annoyance be felt, one would knock the wall in order for the guilty one to shut up. RESPECT. Japanese are very particular with silence, especially at night time. And living in an apato, you need to be extra cautious. I missed this one terribly.


echo of footstep
leading to eternity
a golden silence

Yesterday, I received an unexpected phone call from a Japanese guy. Since I can’t understand what he was saying, I politely asked one of my officemates to answer it on my behalf. The guy was the landlord of the apato where I stay. He informed my officemate about the complaint of my neighbors, yes, neighbors (plural form). He mentioned two things, one, just before the year ended, I invited some of my friends to celebrate my birthday, we were up until morning but if I remember correctly, we kept our voices at minimum, a little louder than whispers. Though occasionally there was uncontrolled laughter which greatly bothered my neighbors, according to him. It may be more than a month ago, but I guess, they didn’t forget. So no more overnight invitation for the time being.

Second one was about the volume of music from my room. I must admit that I always listen to some music every night, but I thought it’s not that loud. It would be boring if I will only listen to drips of the faucet or the wind outside my window. Music was my company at night. But after hearing that particular complaint, I guess I’ll have to use my earphones from now on. My neighbors may file a petition and will kick me out of the apartment if I won’t listen to their complaints. Being a foreigner, I guess I’ll have to do necessary adjustments, to adapt with their culture and way of living.

But I just hope and pray that I won’t be receiving any complaints regarding the sound of my alarm clocks. If it'll happen, this time, I will cry foul!



  1. palipat ka na sa mansion type na apartment hahaha.. ung dingding e semento na :P katulad dito s bahay. malakas pa nga music ko (lmao)

    on the other hand, wala tayo magagawa dyan sa ingat haha.. Do what the Romans do daw diba. nga lang, mga hapon sila e.. so, does it apply? hahaha..

  2. two days na nga ako nag eearphone e. ganun nga talaga siguro, tayo ang kelangan mag adjust. basta ba wag lang nila pakiaalaman ang alarm clock haha

    sabagay minsan nga police na agad ang kakatok sa pintuan hehe

    naks sa mansion ka pala. un din sana gusto ko e... kaso di kakayanin ng budget... parang ung kay eric?

  3. just two weeks in my apaato, a neighbor knocked at my door. my tv then was on normal volume. since then, i wear earphones when i watch tv. bad trip! di ba mansion naman bahay mo? mababa lang talaga tolerance level ng Hapon sa ingay. Sa atin kasi, me konsepto ng pakikisama - ok lng mag-ingay ka ngayon para sa susunod, ako naman.

  4. apato lang to sa akin. malaki lang ng konti hehe. e pano, porn naman pinapanood mo nun haha

    pero dati ung iba kong kakilala nireklamo kasi nagluto ng danggit... ambaho daw sabi ng kapitbahay haha

  5. hehe sa amin wala nagrereklamo :p

    Pero base sa iba, kahit paglalaba sa gabi gamit ang washing machine, meron nagrereklamo. Ganyan talaga sa Japan, parang ghost town hehehe

  6. ayun. ghost town nga. haha dati may memo din kami sa yokohama tungkol sa paglaba....

  7. siguro mga oldies ang neighbors mo.. dito samin kahit sumigaw ako, walang nagrereklamo eh.. hahaha.

  8. @ama uy d naman kasing laki nung ke rico (hindi eric un haha..) ang diperensya lang naman ng apato tska mansion eh ung dingding :P (not the size) mas maliit pa room ko sa yo no hahaha..

    at tama si lala, baka matatanda na nga neighbors mo hahah..

  9. @lala, kasing edad mo kung ganun ang mga katabi ko? haha

    @aleng, enrico kasi, nahalo na. oo nga yung dingding nagkakatalo... :(

  10. sa Plurk na lang kita murahin Tomai! LOL

    letse, kung matanda ako, pano ka na? hahaha..

  11. wbahaha sayang walang smileys dito haha

    bata pa ako ahha

  12. can you make the volume of your alarm clock just loud enough for you to hear John? others may indeed not like it as well, if they get awakened by the alarm clock when they are not supposed to yet :)

  13. ms beth, actually bisan footsteps lang kis-a gina reklamo nila haha

  14. An interesting and engaging post, not least for the not-knowing-our neighbours syndrome.. I think you would be surprised by how commonplace it is! Just goes to show how life can be all consuming, for each of us...
    And that is lovely haiku.. You made the golden silence throb with its literal presence.

  15. Strange! If sounds are not part of your personal world, then somehow they irritate! Generating your own sounds, I guess, is a kind of security and comfort! Love the idea of a "golden silence" in the reflective haiku!

  16. Is that so in Japan?

    Well, not so in Singapore, I just had a week's holiday there the other week.

    Ang linis ng Singgapore, disiplinado mga tao dun, di ka matatakot na mawala o masnatch cellphone mo kahit u r placing a call in a very crowded place.

    But they do not mind you being noisy in public places and even inside the train or bus.

    Regarding discipline and cleanliness, sana ganun din dito sa PIlipinas. nakakainggit di ba?

    Wish i can one day have a holiday in Japan, too!

    Thanks for sharing this post Totomai, and your haiku speaks a lot!

    Have a great week ahead!

  17. thanks Dark Lord, i think every day will continue as an adjustment day

    @Gemma well i am into sounds its just my neighbors are too sensitive. even footsteps are issue to them. so i am trying to shut up (myself / my sounds), lol

    @amity, oo kabayan. ganito sila dito. kakagulat pero kelangan pakibagayan

  18. I'm not a very loud person, but I do enjoy my music loud. That would be a very hard adjustment! Earphones just aren't the same sometimes. I do need it to be very quiet when I sleep, though, so that part would be very nice if living in Japan! Your haiku was beautiful.

  19. @Gale, yeah sounds coming from an earphone are way different from the ones coming out of the speakers. dont worry im quiet when i sleep too :-)

  20. Phew, the poem speaks way beyond its lines, and the backstory illuminates this for us. An ethical dilema ~ well told!

  21. ...and ethics is about respecting others as well. I'm glad you showed a good attitude about it instead of losing your temper and demanding they put up with being disturbed. I think apartment dwellers all over the world have to consider this. My son plays the piano very loudly here at home...but in his apartment he doesn't dare play the keyboard even without using headphones.

  22. I love this line (even though it is not part of your poem): Japanese are very particular with silence
    I wish Americans honored silence at times.

    Your poem is wonderful.
    Amazing how you will need to respect your neighbors.

  23. Nice blog,I enjoyed reading you wonderful work :)

  24. refreshing...

    i love your blog template too...very different..

  25. wow this is so different than the philippines where you know all your neighbors and chill w/ them at night!

    japanese seems to have adopted more of a western mindset :)

  26. Good luck with this! Neat haiku embedded there!

  27. a foreigner currently living in an apartment in japan can really relate to this post. except for the filipinos living in the same building, i don't know who my neighbors are either. and since i don't hear them make noise at all, i can't help but wonder if they talk or not. hehe :) but we live here so we have to follow their rules, though it sometimes sucks not to laugh hard at a joke at midnight. :D


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