[This is another story from ’95 or ’96 after I’d returned to America from living in Japan. Again a character in cryostasis is awakened to an ironic world. As Bradley’s Brain had in its origin my own experiences teaching conversational English in Korea and Japan, Kojima Kosuke of Hakata Doll was in many ways myself in my own insistence that were I to ever become romantically involved, it must be with someone of my same spiritual values and quest, my soulmate, so to speak. The story is based on two dreams I had. In the first I found I was married to an Hispanic woman who couldn’t speak English. I had to somehow make the best of this disconnect. In the second I found I was married to an android. It was pitiful. As the case with Kojima, I was never able to find my match. I gave up the idea that anyone of the sort existed. And when I finally did get romantically involved, it was with someone couldn’t understand me and was a cold fish. She might as well have been an android. Supposing the fantasy of soulmate has any speck of reality to it, I can accept now that my soulmate is out there somewhere, has been all along, and as me she is happily single and doing very well without a life partner. We were fated not to meet for the benefit of both of us.]
Kosuke Kojima reported to the Fukuoka City Office on Thursday morning to say farewell to his fellow office workers and remove his belongings from his desk. He’d worked his last day in the City’s zoning office on Wednesday after giving a month’s notice. He’d been confident of finding another job in spite of the recession. The week before He’d turned down an offer of a position in an electronics company (Itachi) when he learned it was engaged in illegal sales of sensitive chip technology to Chinese and North Korean buyers.
The grievance that brought about his resignation was simply that his department chief, in cooperation with his parents, had railroaded him into an Omiai (introductory meeting of parties for an arranged marriage) with an OL (office lady) in another department, who everyone but Kojima himself thought would be a perfect match.
Kojima had been in no position to refuse the introduction. That same superior, an old friend of his father, had pulled the strings that got him the job to begin with. Department head, Shima, was old fashioned in his attitudes about employer/employee relations, and felt that as a company parent he should help “Kosuke-kun,” who had just turned thirty, find a wife and begin fulfilling his obligations to his parents as oldest son.
The meeting was held in a boardroom of the City Office Building with Kojima’s and Miss Fukutomi’s parents present. Of course Kosuke wasn’t going to say yes, and he felt a little more at ease when he saw she wasn’t keen on the match either and had no interest in him.
He went through the motions, though, asking questions his parents and boss thought irrelevant. His main one being to ask her religious beliefs. She replied that her parents were nominally Buddhist, but that she had no interest in religion herself. Knowing Kojima was a Christian, her parents quickly stated that their daughter would be willing to become a Christian herself upon marriage. Kojima, who was serious about his religion, groaned under his breath.
Afterward his parents were very disappointed, and a couple of days later Shima sat him down for some fatherly advice. dangling the carrot of promotion from one hand and waving the stick of transfer with the other, he urged Kosuke to set aside useless religious objections. He conceded Miss Fukutomi wasn’t much a match for him, intellectually speaking, but that this was irrelevant considering she’d certainly have made a devoted housewife and mother. In closing he patted Kosuke on the back and promised to give him another chance, urging him to consider other possible matches from the City Hall’s ample supply of young, single women.
With another intrusive Omiai on the horizon and continued pressure from his boss, including the suggestion he give up Christianity since it wasn’t practical to the fulfillment of his filial responsibility, Kojima felt he’d rather work somewhere else where there was less interest in his personal life.
Traditional Japanese bosses take an interest in the personal lives of their employees, and the employees in turn accept the parental concern as part of the family atmosphere of the company where, though the working hours are long and the pay low, superiors are quick to come to their aid in times of adversity. Kojima, however, was of the rising “New Generation” which was integrating Western ideals of individual responsibility.
Being especially independent in his outlook, he couldn’t imagine having a wife who wasn’t of the same mind. He had zero romantic interest in giggly office ladies who were mediocre workers by day and “Juliana (nightclub) Girls” by night, waving their feathered fans, hanging onto and fussing over men the way bar hostesses do, and pretending to listen with frequent responses of, “Yes,” “That’s so,” and “What an interesting idea!”
Once it seemed he’d found an exception. He was delighted when one of his coworkers showed an interest in the Christian Faith and asked him for a Bible. It turned out though, that she only wanted to be seen with it to impress an acquaintance who might get her a better paying job in another company.
Kosuke Kojima had prayed for years for a compatible Christian mate. It wasn’t enough that she could manage household affairs well, or share the enjoyment of serious music by contemporary Japanese composers, he wanted a life partner who could share his spiritual commitment, one who wouldn’t place worldly concerns, or even matters of maintaining the nest, over Eternity and the health of the soul. For him it would be a nightmare to wind up in a marriage with a wife who merely tolerated his religion and had no spiritual commitment herself and was unable to communicate with him about spiritual things.
To marry a Christian was a decision he’d made on becoming a Christian himself when he was an undergraduate student at Seinan University (a Baptist Mission institution in Fukuoka City). Since that time he’d been faithful to his convictions and continued a regular attendance at the Fukuoka International Church.
Though he didn’t attend church expressly for the search of a mate, it was the logical place. Nevertheless he’d not met a single Japanese woman in attendance who showed any spiritual depth. If he brought theology, Christian impact on culture, or the experiences of his own devotional life into a conversation, they politely responded in a disinterested and dismissing fashion, changing the subject as quickly as possible. Even the Sunday School teacher accepted his observations solely within the context of her church activity. She had nothing of her own to contribute and nearly always changed the subject to the perils and problems of various members.
When he’d last spoken to her, she’d expressed her dismay that he’d so rashly quit his job just on the “arrogance” of wanting things his way and refusing the help of others. Christians should be cooperative, she told him, and urged him to show Christian humility.
Once a Miss Kuroda had caught his eye. She always participated in the Sunday School discussion. But as he got to know her, he found her very conservative in her Christian views which were parroted from Fundamentalist and Pentecostal books she’d read. For her the important thing was the security of accepted dogma rather than the risk of the spiritual journey.
Hearing his situation she too accosted him. She couldn’t understand why he’d turned down the job at Itachi. When he tried to explain how he wasn’t comfortable with participation in a company breaking international law and trade agreements, she replied that he was only being selfish. He should set aside his “overly serious” conscience and get about supporting himself the way God had provided. How could his prayer for a new job ever be answered if he didn’t accept the answers God sent? Kojima responded that the Itachi job was by no means God sent, and that God certainly wouldn’t be providing him work he couldn’t perform with a clear conscience. Kuroda responded that there was no Job unacceptable of itself. He should take what he could get now and trust God to provide him something better later. Then she too urged him to be humble.
“Tell me something, Kuroda-san,” he began when she was done with her lecture. “If you lost your job at the Nishinihon Bank, would you take a job as a Nakasu hostess or escort in the meanwhile?”
“No!” she exclaimed, shocked at the suggestion. “That’s different!”
“I’m glad to hear that.” Kojima said.
These were the expressive Japanese women in his church. The others upon becoming Christians had gravitated to traditional women’s roles, thinking it Christian that women should be seen but not heard.
Nakamura sought to make friends of foreign single members as well. There was an English woman who was communicative and serious about her spiritual life. Kosuke enjoyed conversation with her, but she wasn’t a romantic interest. She was over ten years older than he, and spoke to him only at church.
Five years previously Kosuke had fallen in love with an Australian woman attending the church. She said she was a Christian and attended regularly, and though she wasn’t as serious about religion as he, he found her very attractive. But just as a relationship seemed possible, she vanished. Later he learned she’d become the mistress of a wealthy Japanese man in Osaka.
This debacle hit him very hard. He realized that in his romantic attachment to her, he was blinded to her lack of a real faith. Quoting the book of Proverbs, “Charm is deceitful, beauty is vain. A woman who fears the Lord, she is the one to praise,” he vowed he’d never have anything to do with a woman unless she were spiritually committed. Then he sighed that women of Proverbial caliber seemed extremely rare.
On Kojima’s disinterest in the majority of Japanese women, foreign men he confided of it to quickly misunderstood. “Of course you’d never be satisfied with the typical, submissive, unassertive, Japanese wife.” He had to explain to them that they were culturally misinformed. Women are very powerful in the context of the Japanese home. What foreigners mistake for a subordinate role is only an outward appearance and the consequence of women’s’ lack of roles outside the home.
Once an American man in the process of divorcing his Japanese wife complained to him that once the children had come any significant communication except on household matters had died. He could no longer engage her even in those topics of mutual interest they’d shared as a couple. This, Kojima could relate to. He explained that in Japan the gulf between men and women’s worlds is wide and deep with little common ground to share in friendship. Once a wife becomes a mother, she establishes herself in that time honored identity, setting aside or giving lesser priority to the friendship relationship she’d had with her husband. A father too is expected to shift to his new role. It wasn’t that the couple could no longer be friends, but that being parents overshadowed everything else.
The issue for Kosuke wasn’t a question of domestic power. It was the lack of significant communion. Where, as he felt, one’s spouse should be one’s best friend, the traditional Japanese home drove one to seek significant verbal sharing outside. He longed for a spiritual common ground. It seemed though, that women took very little interest in anything above the mundane. They were preoccupied with clothes, accessories, boyfriends, husbands, and then housekeeping and children, just as most men were preoccupied with cars, sports, girlfriends, wives, jobs, and careers.
Though he said that the submissive, Japanese woman was a myth, he knew that the traditions of female subordination still influenced relationships. In courtship women were careful to maintain the appearance that the man was always right and say nothing that would cause a conflict. There were still women who would drop whatever interests they had of their own for those of their prospective husbands’ In his own church, there were a couple women who went through the motions of Christianity just for their husbands’ sake.
Some said this was merely a regional matter. They said that if he went up to Tokyo, or only as far as Osaka, he’d find women more assertive and interested in religion and politics. If he stayed in Kyushu, he could expect to encounter “Hakata Ningyo,” Hakata Dolls, women of the traditional mold named after the porcelain dolls made and sold in those parts. There were even women in the countryside who still followed the practice of bowing on their knees to their husbands departing for work and returning home in the evening. These women attended to their husbands’ every need and had little life apart from homemaking. In such homes marriage wasn’t founded upon friendship but social obligations and the task of raising a family. Husbands and wives fulfilled their domestic obligations and found other outlets for expressing the issues of their hearts.
Of course there were many exceptions to this, women who continued working after marriage, and those who chose a career over a husband. Kojima, though, wasn’t meeting any exceptional women and had finally stopped praying for one. By the time of his disappearance, he’d already resigned the question of marriage to God.
Nevertheless, he felt lonely that night he vanished from the face of the earth. No one of his Japanese Christian friends had understood why he felt the need to get out from under his employer’s expectations. Only one foreign, male, church member had understood, a little, congratulating him for refusing to be “abused by an exploitative employer.”
The night of his last appearance at the office, unable to sleep, he slipped on his clothes and coat and walked along the bank of the Naka River, praying aloud.
He poured out his soul, giving expression even to his feelings of resentment, so that he scarcely noticed how far he’d walked: from his neighborhood, Miyake, near Ohashi Station, all the way to Nakagawa Town. When the path along the bank narrowed between tall grasses, he decided it was time to turn back.
Having spoken through his anxiety about employment and his despair of ever meeting a woman with whom he could have a meaningful relationship, he was satisfied to leave questions of career and marriage entirely to Providence. He was relieved that he had once again escaped meddlesome parties who meant to take his life into their own hands.
Once before he’d walked the River bank in anxiety; when two middle aged women, members of his church, had tried to urge an Omiai upon him. One was the American wife of a wealthy Japanese landowner. She had no more understanding of his values than his Japanese friends. As she saw it, communication wasn’t a matter of major importance, and common values weren’t relevant in the least. These hadn’t been a factor in her own marriage. What’s more she found his desire for a spiritually compatible mate foolish and “fanatical.” What he really needed, she told him, was a devoted domestic to take care of him. And she knew just the girl for the job.
The other, a Japanese woman who rarely attended church, was the mother of the girl in question who had never attended church and wasn’t a Christian at all. When Kojima had adamantly refused to meet the intended match, the American had accused him of “arrogance” and “presumption.” “You are trusting God to produce a mate for you, but you are ignoring God’s voice. Remember this, God often speaks to us through our brothers and sisters in Christ.” She went on to tell him that his real problem was that he just didn’t want to become involved in life and was fleeing from intimacy.
Looking back on it all, he chuckled, feeling lighthearted. He felt the same relief he’d once felt upon awakening from a nightmare he’d had even before he became a Christian. In the dream he was unaccountably married to a Korean woman who couldn’t speak a word of Japanese. He felt trapped but obligated to carry on with the marriage. But then he’d awoken from sleep and realizing it was only a dream, felt that he’d been given a second chance at life.
With this no longer weighting upon his heart and mind, he glanced ahead along the path he’d been paying little attention to. It was past One AM and even the single apartment building on the riverside was dark except for a couple of windows. Then a sudden movement across the river caught his eyes. Hovering over a house was a hubcap shaped shadow. When an intense beam of light shined from it upon the house, it clearly appeared to be a thick, silver disk.
Kojima rubbed his eyes. UFO’s were something he’d dismissed with little thought. He looked hard hoping further observation would reveal it to be a trick of light and shadow.
He continued studying the shape as it slowly rose and drifted upriver. “It must be a balloon,” he thought. But at that thought, the disk suddenly jerked and leaned in his direction as if it knew it were being watched. A brilliant light struck him, and he lost consciousness.
Kojima hadn’t been one of their intended abductees, and after a routine examination, uncivil probing, and tissue sampling, in disagreement of what to do with him, they put him in cryostasis and whisked off to their appointment on the far side of the Moon.
That’s where they crashed, where the space aliens left their totaled saucer, and where Kojima remained for decades in frozen preservation.
Eventually the forgotten wreck became an item of salvage, and Kojima was revived.
The recovery of a living human being was astounding news on Earth, but no one was as astounded as Kojima himself when he discovered he was the sole human on a world now populated by hybrid, space alien beings.
He asked the new inhabitants to simply return him home to Fukuoka. They told him the shocking truth. Every human being had died at the turn of the century when the Earth had passed through a galactic belt of radiation that had disturbed the Earth’s magnetic field in a way fatally adverse to the human brain. Nearly all the human population had become violently and suicidally insane.
The Aliens had known this was coming and had seized upon it as a rationalization to save their own dying race while salvaging what they could of the human through a hybridization project. Theirs was an ancient race that like ants had existed for millions of years without further evolutionary development and a loss of most of its vitality. They pitied the young and vivacious human kind which would tragically cease to exist a million years before its coming of age. So seeing a mutual advantage, they sought to graft their kind into the human race, but in secrecy, knowing that immature human sentiments couldn’t understand and wouldn’t cooperate.
Kojima found the ruined City of Fukuoka being rebuilt and resettled by a race of tall, pale skinned humanoids with long, thin limbs, large foreheads, sparse, thin, black hair, and large brown eyes, usually hidden by sunglasses. These, he was told, were the descendants of hybrids of Japanese people and alien genetic material. They were an intelligent and healthy race.
Among them were their teachers, members of the original dying race, generally four feet in height, with oversized heads and pitch black slanting eye sockets: the “Grays,” as they’d been called in UFO lore. There were also their assistants, a race of reptilian creatures indigenous to their homeworld.
All of this was beyond Kosuke’s imagination. It flew in the face of his religious expectations as well. What would now become of the Second Coming of Christ? Had the Judgment Day passed during his sleep? Whatever, the end of his world had indeed come for him “as a thief in the night.”
At first there was so much to learn that Kojima easily repressed his loss in the excitement. The religion of the “Sidi” was very similar to Buddhism, but included a Supreme Being or cosmic metaphor of the Divine. He learned that in their ancient history there had been many incarnations of “The Eternally Awakening One.”
The Neo-Japanese were more interested in what Kojima had to say of Christ than their Japanese ancestors had been. They readily incorporated the story of the Cross into their spirituality.
After a few months, Kojima’s feelings caught up with him, loneliness and a terrible bout of homesickness. His dreams were full of the Fukuoka of his childhood and college days, and he often sat idling away the time at the Fukuoka Tower (preserved as an historical landmark).
His new friends noticed he was unhappy, but were a little slow in understanding why. (The Sidi’s hope of incorporating human emotions hadn’t gone as well.) But seeing Nakamura spending hours watching archive videos of human movies and TV shows, one of them had an idea.
One evening as Kosuke was sitting alone in his apartment (one of the Momochi buildings still standing), a Neo-Japanese and one of the Grays dropped by to see him.
“Kosuke-san, we have a surprise for you, someone special.”
Then a young, kimono clad, Japanese woman stepped into the entryway. She smiled and silently bowed. Her face seemed familiar, but it was her ears that raised his brow in recognition.
“I thought I was the last living human being,” Kojima said to his guests.
“That you are,” the Neo-Japanese woman replied. “Because we noticed that you were so lonely, we built a companion for you. You might find her features a little familiar. We fashioned her after a character in a Godzilla movie I saw you watching.”
The android stepping forward and bowing again said, “My name is Miki. I am your wife.”
“She’s amazing, isn’t she?” said his friend. “So lifelike. We used cloned human tissue for her skin and some internal organs. Her skeletal structure and internal framework is composed of titanium and super hard plastic, and her brain is as complex as a biological one. She’s programmed to fulfill your every need, including the sexual one.”
The android made a beeline to the stack of dirty dishes around Kojima’s sink and began cleaning. Kojima remained at the entryway, his mouth hanging open.
A robot domestic? He could have tolerated that, but his domestic wouldn’t stop with just the cleaning, cooking, and laundry. She joined him in his bath, scrubbing his back, and massaging his shoulders. She placed her futon overlapping his and attempted to slip into his own after he’d fallen asleep. She was awfully cute, too cute for Kosuke’s taste, especially the ears which had given the character (played by the actress Megumi Odaka) after which she was copied, the name “Miki” after Micky Mouse.
Miki was awfully sweet, over sweet like the deserts Americans brought to the church potlucks. And she always spoke in that high octave, falsetto voice typical of elevator girls and the cashiers at the Nishitetsu Supermarket (as required by the chain’s courtesy policy).
When she snuggled up to him, expecting his cuddles and caresses, he drew back. And once when he did hug her, he felt from her no emotion. Her memory was loaded with encyclopedic knowledge. When he expressed an insight, a belief, or just an opinion, she could respond with relevant quotations from Earth and Alien religious Scriptures. But she evidenced neither insight of her own nor faith in God. Cute android or real human, Kojima couldn’t have her such an intimate part of his life. As an android, the artificiality of it all gave him the queasy feeling called “Uncanny Valley,” and if she had been real, his Christian ethics would have objected to their living together.
Seeing that she wasn’t pleasing him, his artificial spouse tried all the harder to be the perfect Japanese wife of tradition and myth. She was always there, sitting on her knees in the entryway Whenever he came home from school, his dinner was prepared, his bathwater ready. She helped him with his studies of advanced Mathematics. alien technology, and Sidi Culture. She showered all her attention on him, with no interests of her own, and no friends to eat cake with in coffee shops. The effect of it though was to make him feel all the lonelier.
When he asked them to take her away, they asked him in what specific ways she didn’t suit him and promised to keep reprogramming her till they got her just right. Kojima replied that he didn’t want such a thing period. A woman to do the cleaning was OK but not a manufactured wife.
So at his insistence, they took her away. She was sold to a Neo-Japanese Businessman who had restored a Nakasu club in its Twentieth Century style and thought the android would do perfectly as its Mama-san. When installed though, she simply stood behind the bar, unresponsive. Then when her makers came to examine her, she asked to be dismantled, and before they could correct the malfunction, disappeared out the door.
Day’s later some workers found her in the ruined Nishijin Iwataya Department Store, staring at a dusty, old displayed wedding dress, tears running down her cheeks.
This detail puzzled her makers most, even though she had been built with functional tear ducts. (They had no tear ducts themselves.) Sidi overseers urged she be taken back to the human, so they could study how this odd, unprogramed, emotional behavior had come about, and if it would shed any light upon the human mystery they had never been able to reproduce.
Kojima’s friends told him of her behavior and tears and implored him to take her back. He reluctantly yielded.
That afternoon she was waiting for him at home as if he’d never sent her away. He said nothing to her, and she sat across the kotatsu from him, silently darning his sock and smiling cutely.
Finally when he looked into his eyes, wondering if he’d really hurt her feelings, she spoke up saying, “I want you.”
Kosuke, surprised at his response, replied, “I want you too.” The surprise was that he did. He wanted her companionship, he wanted her smile, he even wanted her ears.
Perhaps it was just pity, seeing she seemed to have feelings after all. She was able to desire. And though the desire may have been no more than programming, he knew that human desires were shaped, or programmed, by one’s social environment. As for his own desire for a spiritually compatible human wife, that was impossible now anyway.
Within a month they had a nice little wedding ceremony. A teacher of the Sidi Religion held the service in Christian form. The Neo-Japanese thought it strange only that there was a ceremony. They had no marriage customs themselves. When school break came, the newlyweds took a honeymoon trip to Cerid, the lunar city.
After his reeducation, Nakamura was made curator of the Fukuoka City Museum in Momochi. He and Miki were given a house on the museum grounds, built in accordance with traditional Japanese architecture.
A couple of years later, Miki wanted a child. Though she was designed to fulfill Nakamura’s conjugal needs, she was far from equipped to give birth. So her makers put together a “nine year old” girl android. Kosuke named her “Arale.”
“Miki and Arale never aged, but Kosuke being altogether flesh and blood grew old and infirm. One day his doctor said that his “transition” was near and hospitalized him. In a week a young, Kosuke android, Miki’s “age,” replaced him at home. Soon after that there was a baby brother for Arale, cloned from the late human Kojima.
Their museum home was surrounded by a large enclosure permitting the daily reception of tours of school children come to see how the old human kind had lived, and what they were like.