Last Sunday in Tokyo, my Buddhist Kiwi friend Jesse, a physics teacher in Taiwan, while inquiring in broken Japanese about a vegetarian restaurant, found a woman who seemed willing to assist him, only to find himself being led to a church full of Japanese Evangelicals who proceeded to take advantage of his accommodating personality and baptized him by immersion. Is this a sign of the end times?
An obasan (older woman) boarded the Yamanote train car I was sitting in tonight. There were 2 empty seats between me and a salaryman on my left. The obasan began to sit down next to the salaryman, hesitated, then moved to sit next to me. I was elated, thinking that I was finally moving up on the Japanese social ladder after a decade of avoidance.
Then I noticed something odd about the row of Japanese faces sitting across the aisle from me. Continue reading
Here are the top 10 reasons why I feel I may have been in the Tokyo sauna a bit too long.
10 -> I can sit patiently for 20 minutes while the person across from me formulates an answer to my question.
09 -> I will carry garbage around in my briefcase for days until I find the appropriate bin.
08 -> I find myself annoyed by foreigners, especially Americans. They talk too loud and excessively, and point at others with their fingers…just as I used to.
07 -> When making a purchase, I feel the obsession to minimize the number of coins I end up with.
06 -> My eyes now appropriately glaze over with detachment as I ride the train. When I get off an hour later, I can’t remember a single one of the faces that had been sitting across from me. However, I will spot every small object dropped behind by others and quickly alert them.
05 -> I feel acute guilt when I wear shoes in my own apartment, even with no one else around.
04 -> I can now expertly impart social guilt upon a violator of social mores by by staring past them with a barely detectable expression of scorn.
03 -> I can ride my bicycle while talking on my phone and holding an umbrella.
02 -> I simply smile and shrug whenever I lose my wallet and happily await its return without the slightest worry.
01 -> Yesterday, while walking pass a barber standing in the doorway of his shop, I became acutely aware of my bald head, bowed and apologized. No kidding.
Satire and reason consummate their unholy marriage for a highly entertaining and instructive show.
I‘ve always had a thing for cats. The cat in the photo on the left was taken in Hong Kong as it dashed out to me in hopes of affection or food. I’m a sucker for such innocence and helplessness.
However, not all cats are quite so innocent. Especially the cats here in Tokyo. While American cats will hiss a warning at you even before you spot them, Tokyo cats seem to be more full of game. They’ll lay purring on their backs looking like they’re welcoming a petting, then suddenly lunge and sink their teeth into your approaching hand. These are often the cats you see strolling along the streets of Tokyo in fluffy white coats as if they own the place.
I once observed a Japanese Chihuahua that had cornered such a cat, yapping away as if it had accomplished something. A moment later it was squealing in pain with a shredded ear as it vanished down the street. I swear the cat was grinning sadistically as she licked the blood from her pretty paw.
Here are a few tips about Tokyo cats based on my experience.
- Beware the quiet. I used to carry my cat around the neighborhood in the evening. At first she would constantly meow as she surveyed the novel environment, a flood of possibilities filling her mind. Then came the quiet. About 4 seconds after the quiet, there would be a sudden flurry of clawing in an attempt to escape the safety of my arms.
- Plan to get dirty. Sometimes, when my cat was just a kitten, I would let her explore a small patch of shrubs for a while before calling her back so I could safely carry her home. That was fine for the first few trips out, but she eventually got obstinate when I attempted to retrieve her. I far too often found myself crawling through the thorny shrubs, alternating between threats and promises as she smirked at me. I did usually get the final revenge as I hosed her soiled pelt down to a scrawny semblance of herself in the shower.
- Know the previous owner. One cat I owned actually turned out to be the ex-cat of a yakuza boss who was known to take cat thieves on one-way excursions on his boat. I dyed the cat black.
Sometimes people ask me what it’s like to leave christianity. This video is the best explanation I could find.
- Convince yourself that the god you’re enthusiastically chasing is real.
- Deny the fact that others watching you chase this god from the perspective of reality see something a bit ridiculous.
- Finally get up to chase this vision of god in the real world.
- Run headlong into the wall of logic and reason.
- Sheepishly wake up to reality.