Thursday, October 27, 2005

Tales from the 'hood

Checking my bank balance recently, I noticed a couple zeros that hadn't been there before. So I did what any red-blooded American would do: squander it. Time for some antique bling-bling. Came home with a couple 19th Century iron weapons and spears. As I carried them to my door, some neighbors gave me funny looks. It can't be a good thing when the gaijin begin to arm.

I live in an old house in the old part of town. Pre-westernization, this area would have been a lesser samurai quarter, not far from the castle, Buddhist temples, and red-light district. I know a trolley used to run by here, past a large ironworks which once covered this sector. The fact that my house was built just after the war leads me to assume that this area may have been bombed. Today, most of the homes surrounding ours are of a more recent vintage, the average life span of a house in Japan being a mere 24 years. One of the newest additions is a featureless blue box. One of these days, I'm going to knock on the door and pretending I mistake it for a dental clinic, make an appointment.

A month ago, in the Nog's bar district, somebody, apparently in an alcohol-fueled rage at an uninspired life, decided to take it out on my bicycle. The shape of the front wheel now resembles a flattened pumpkin. I took it to the nearby bicycle guy. He must've vibed my musical "talent", for in the five minutes we spent talking, he knocked over just about everything in his shop, causing such a wonderful symphony of mechanical clamor that I don't doubt he was channeling John Cage. As I applauded, he told me I'd be better off just stealing a wheel from someone else's bike. I eyed his stock suspiciously.

A block or so away is a soup line for cats. Everyday at noon, a dozen or so stand below a window which I assume is the kitchen. Next door is an overgrown yard which nearly hides what I call the fairy-tale house. It is a wonderfully ancient structure of angles which I'd call gothic, if the home weren't Japanese. The overhanging trees create arches leading to magical realms beyond. In the front is a large circular stone which would be considered small currency in the Yap Islands. It's probably leftover change from a recent trip.

One of my elderly neighbors is dressed up today. He's wearing a suit with a cut thirty years old. The tie is simply massive. Must be Koizumi's new "Cool Breeze" campaign.

A low concrete wall runs along perpendicular to the houses. It separates the sidewalk from a large vegetable garden. At the base of the wall are a line of colorful weeds and flowers which grow right from the concrete, looking like they're climbing under the wall in an attempt at truency. The unpredictability of nature.


On the turntable: Eleventh Dream Day, "El Moodio"
On the nightable: Jay Rubin, "Haruki Murakami and the Music of Words"

1 comment:

Tom said...

"It can't be a good thing when the gaijin begin to arm." --Indeed. This line amused me on a wet, dark, cold and miserable October morning here in the office in Tokyo.

Cool Biz is now officially over by the way, or at least it certainly looked that way in Financial Services Agency. The ties are now back where they belong on the stained white garments of government. Proper balance has been restored in the universe.

By the way, I noticed your message on my phone yesterday. Apologies for not answering. Presume it's too late now.

All the best

Tom