一個人的女生旅行|Girl Going Solo|女子ひとり旅

是為了甚麼,女生們踏上了一個人的旅程|Wherefore do girls go solo|何のために、女の子は一人旅をするのか

是為了甚麼,女生們踏上了一個人的旅程|Wherefore do girls go solo|何のために、女の子は一人旅をするのか

 

去祗園甲部看「都をどり」那天,我一個人拿着相機,走進建仁寺西南側的摩利支尊天堂時,跟一位同樣拿着相機的日本女生打了個照面。

遊客。我倆各自在心中低吟了一句,逐各走各的,彷彿誰也沒有看見誰。

到了祗園甲部歌舞練場,剛好趕及在開場前十五分鐘買票進場。除了我,旁邊的都是兩個人起的組合。前面一對老婆婆很緊張的在討論該坐甚麼位置,還拉着帶位的男職員要他請教,興奮如小學生。

因為我只是一個人,上到最上層的三等座時,等不了前面的其他組合商討選擇座位,立刻便找到了最中間的位置坐下來了。當我學着旁邊的日本男子把腿穿過面前的欄杆時,忽然又聽到一連串興奮的對話。回頭一看,原來是剛才的老婆婆們坐到我後面了。這次還有一把年輕的女聲,大概是一同旅行的親戚吧。她們仨喋喋不休的,我無法充耳不聽,聽不懂的語話成了無意義的噪音,不住的纏繞耳際,要聽懂又得花很多力氣。於是我又在心裡默唸:遊客。只是這次語氣加了點兇恨。

櫻花期過了,京都少了很多國外遊客,國內遊客卻仍駱驛不絕。在街上時常會看到像坐在我後面的兩三位老婆婆的組合,又或者是兩三位中年女性的組合。她們清一色的制服是風衣運動鞋和用來擋陽光的帽子和太陽傘,手中或持着市公車一日乘車券或地圖。我常會想她們的丈夫怎麼了,但似乎女性組合的旅行在日本很受歡迎。不少旅遊優惠套餐都為女性組合而設,不比情侶的少,甚至更多。

日本向來是個群體社會,做甚麼都要三五成群,獨自一人行動會招惹懷疑的目光。高檔次的餐廳會拒絕獨自一人的來客,一個人去吉野家幾乎是一件值得羞恥的事。高木直子就在她的插畫書內討論過在一個人的話該上哪一家牛肉飯店。尤其是女生,就好像更不可以一個人。沒有戀人也許是沒有辦法的事,但沒有同性好友就罪大惡極了。日本的校園欺凌問題,某程度上都是出自這種被孤立的恐懼吧。太多的小說電影涉及這個主題,描寫較深入的有角田光代的『対岸の彼女』。

但是近年的日本好像有點不同了。全單座位的拉麵店「一蘭」受歡迎得連香港都開了分店,現在大多數的城市都有給單身旅客使用的膠囊旅館,上網搜尋一下,旅行詞彙甚至新增了「女性一人旅」一項。也是說,在舊制逐漸崩潰的社會狀況下,日本的女性也開始擺脫以往的種種規範和恐懼,開展她們各自的一人旅了。

表演完了,我彷彿聽到背後的老婆婆問身邊那年輕女生她從哪裡來,女生笑說是神戶,老婆婆們則由九洲來的。我奇怪回頭一看,啊,不就是剛才在建仁寺那個女生嗎。笑着,她們分別離開了。她裝作沒有認出我的樣子,我也一樣。

也許別人看我就如我看她般奇怪,而看到對方的我們,又從對方身上看到了那個,一個人的自己。這感覺太複雜。

但怎麼也好,我們的自由與孤獨,只有我們明白。

 

The day I went to see Miyako-odori, I went into Kennin-ji, bearing my camera, when I met another Japanese girl who also had a camera with her.

Traveler, we told ourselves, and went our own ways, as if we did not see one another.

I reached the venue and managed to get a ticket and entered the theatre just before the performance began. Except me, the people there all came in small groups. In front of me a pair of old ladies discussed excitedly which seats they should get, and even grabbed the arm of a staff for advice, like two happy little girls.

As I was by myself, once I reached the balcony, I did not wait for the people in front of me to hesitate over their seats but immediately found myself one in the very middle. When I thrusted my legs through the railing, imitating the man next to me, I heard a string of excited conversation right behind me. It was the old ladies. There was also a young woman’s voice, probably their relative. They kept on babbling and I could not pretend not to hear them, incomprehensible words turned into meaningless noise booming through my brain, but if one were to try comprehending it just took one too much energy. And with much more vigour I thought to myself: Travellers.

After the sakura season, there are much less foreign visitors, but still many mainland visitors. One always sees old ladies’s groups in twos and threes like the pair behind me, or female groups in their middle age. They can be identified by their iconic uniform: blazers, sports shoes, hats and parasols to shield the sun, and a one-day city bus pass and map in hand. I always wonder what has become of their husbands, but it appears to be very popular for women to travel together in Japan. There are many travel plans designed for female groups, probably even more than those for couples.

Japan has always been a communal people, and nobody goes solitary without meeting disapproving glances. Expensive restaurants reject single customers, and it is almost a shame to have to go to Yoshinoya alone. Naoko Takagi discusses in her illustrated book which is the best gyudon place to go by one self. One just cannot be alone, especially if you are female. One cannot help not having a boyfriend, but it is a crime not to have a good friend of the same sex. To some extent the school bullying phenomenon in Japan probably comes from this fear of isolation. There are many books and films that deal with this topic, and one relatively profound exploration of such can be found in Mitsuyo Kakuta’s Taigan no Kanojo (『対岸の彼女』) .

Somehow it has changed in the recent years. The all single seat Ramen shop “Ichiran" is so popular that there is a branch in Hong Kong, and in most big cities there are capsule hotels catering for single travellers. When you search the internet, there is even this new vocabulary “solo girl travel". That means while the old order gradually crumbles, Japanese women also begin to rip off their past bondages and fear, and go solo.

After the performance, I seemed to hear at my back one of the old ladies asking the young girl where she came from, upon which the girl answered Kobe. The old ladies, on the other hand, came from Kyushu. Amused, I turned my head, and lo! Was that not the girl I met at Kennin-ji just now? Still laughing, they left separately. She pretended not to see me, and I her.

Perhaps people look at me the way just as I look at her, and seeing each other we also see our own solitary self. A complicated feeling.

No matter what, we alone know our own freedom, and solitude.

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