Uyoku Protest

On our way to a much nicer type of Japanese tradition, we ran into some local uyoku demo.

I know I should be a little more annoyed at the continuing existence of these subhuman leeches, but I nearly felt bad for them:

A few dozens sexually-frustrated ojisans (plus one very angry lady on the microphone), matched at least 3 to 1 by a cordon of (very nervous) police officers and easily outshined by the crowd of energetic counter-protesters in the public… Most of whom were young-enough to still be in university in a few years, when the Dai-nippon grandpas finally get sent to retirement homes (presumably staffed mainly by immigrant Asian workers. Oh, sweet, delicious, irony).

These days, our household entertainment program has added the TV dorama version of Great Teacher Onizuka to the rotation. This 2012 remake of a much older series, itself adapted from a popular manga/anime running in the late 90s, follows the adventure of a barely-reformed yanki/bosozoku type (the titular Onizuka) who, through great feats of suspension of disbelief, gets hired by a private high-school principal to teach a particularly difficult class. Difficult, in that the usual troubled, broken home, violent kids are the good ones: the bad ones are an assortment of sociopath damien-like monsters constantly plotting to get rid of the teaching staff through increasingly deadly means.

Like most Japanese TV fare, this one offers a mildly entertaining serialised story with mediocre acting, pathetically cheap production values and implausible plot reveals that would shame a Mexican telenovela. The point being: it is fairly simple Japanese and good language training when you are too tired to exercise the rest of your brain.

Of course, this would not be a Japanese drama, without its share of gratuitous sexual innuendoes, heavy on female objectification and wildly inappropriate1from a tame Western standpoint behaviours by male characters. With the latter presented as light comic relief and therefore never worthy of onscreen reprimand, unlike whatever other amoral behaviours (stealing, loitering, failing to properly sort their rubbish…) the bad guys engage in. Lack of (Western) political correctness on Japanese TV is par for the course and somewhat refreshing (if you don’t think too much about what it says of Japanese society).

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Yesterday, a necessary bike ride from the confines of Odaiba back to our neighbourhood (10km as the crow flies, 20km in practice, thanks to the freaking Rainbow Bridge being closed to bikes) yielded my first police bike check of the year. To be fair, they stopped me because of the headphones (with a very unconvinced “危ないよ”), but hey, why miss an occasion to check on the vehicle’s papers.

As always in my interactions with the Japanese police, this one was extremely courteous and friendly. In fact, it took a slightly unusual turn when the conversation went from the perfunctory “Where are you from/How long have you been in Japan/日本語はうまいですね” to the slightly more personal “やっぱりヨロッパ、ヨロッパ人はかっこういいですね”…

And then it got weird.

The one young cop not busy checking my bike’s registration number inquired if I was riding back from the local gym. I told him that not, and that the lycra tank top I was rocking was merely in some vain hope of not entirely melting during the one-hour bike ride in the Tokyo Summer. “But you do work out, right? Yea, I could totally tell”…

A new string of gushing (and comically undeserved) comments on my cool European demeanour and style were interrupted by the other cop confirming that everything was in order and I was free to go.

Beside both policemen being roughly my height and weight (and just as unlikely to ever succeed as male strippers), the only thing missing to the softcore gay porn scenario was the boom-tchiki-boom music.

Dear lady walking in front of me on the way to work this morning:

In light of today’s meteorological circumstances, I am not sure your choice of a thin white cotton dress and black lacy underwear was well-advised.

But thanks for the show anyway.

Club Metro, Thursday, 1am

_ “Hallo! How aru you?”

_ “Whichu country… Whichu country aru you from?”

_ “Ahh… なるほど… すごいですね…”

_ “Your nose… Your nose: it is berry strong. はなは… つよい!I like very much!”

Don’t change a thing, Japan.

These days, I wonder if I’m graduating in Bioinformatics or in Petty Administrative Filing.

A tiny representative sample of the ten pages of instructions on how to file my thesis documents (bear in mind none of it has anything to do with the actual content of the thesis, this is all exclusively about how to format and present the documents, not what goes in it):

1. 60部については、表紙【様式D】をつけ、「論文内容の要旨」、「論文目録」、「履歴書」の順にセットし、左側2カ所をホッチキスで綴じてください。(2頁のものは見開きとなるように印刷) 2. 各3部については、種類別に揃え、ゼムクリップで止めてください。
(1) 2頁にわたるものは両面印刷とし、 「論文目録」、「履歴書」については、必ず捺印し てください。(綴じた60部は捺印不要)
(2) 種類毎に3部をゼムクリップで止め、クリアフォルダーに入れて提出してください。

Yes, three paperclips, not 2 or, gods forbid, 4. And for the love of Amaterasu, make sure that you use a clear folder for your stack of 60 copies of each document. We can and will fail you if you do not comply.

Friday, a visit to my favourite supah-cheap shōjin-ryōri bar-restaurant in Shijo and its in-house friendly feline, triggered a chain of increasingly cat-oriented events on Saturday.

After taking Aya and Naomi, her friend visiting from Vancouver, to check out on the Philosopher’s Cats (and Ginkakuji while we were at it), it was decided that the cat quota for the day had not been reached and I followed two increasingly restless cat-addicts to my first ever Neko Kafé.

Actually, the place was pleasantly more like somebody’s living room with a lot of cats, than “café”… The little critters were unsurprisingly adorable, and the range was pretty broad: from disgustingly postcard-cute 1-month old kittens, to aging ojiisan cat, with all stripes and shapes in between (Hitler-moustache included).

All in all, a reasonable deal at ¥500 an hour, if only for countless memorable pictures of Aya and Naomi, in full crazy-cat-ladies mode, playing and cooing at little purring balls of furs.

It is just mind-boggling how many Japanese have come away convinced that I must be a US citizen, on account of my shirt having a tiny US flag shoulder patch (right above where it proclaims in large gold stitch letters that I am a “Boy Scout of America”).

On the other hand, this lack in the whole irony concept, puts some of the clothing commonly spotted through the streets of Japan in a radically new, slightly scary, perspective…

Dear local Kyoto-fu LDP candidate for the upcoming upper-house election:

True: I cannot cast a vote in this election and sway your chances either direction.

But let me assure you that, if you keep insisting on circling my block multiple times, every morning between 8 and 8:30, inane election slogans blaring from your van’s speakers at top volume, I will be more than happy to contribute to your historical legacy by setting post at the closest grassy knoll with whatever long-range weapon I can get my hands on.