A typical day

9:30 a.m.

I walk into the neighborhood supermarket. The guy exiting gives me the evil eye for no reason.

Walking past the pharmacy section, I hear a cheap ’80s-era boombox blaring the jingle the supermarket always plays on the weekend.

“Today is double-point day! Double-point day! Oh, such are the chances for savings that can be had today — it’s double-point day!”


There are, however, some good specials. I pick up a couple spices, some chicken, and a yakipurin that reminds me of the flan I used to eat as a kid.

There’s another ’80s-style boombox set atop the table in front of me. It plays the same jingle: “Today is double-point day! Double-point day!” I wince, move down a couple aisles to get out of the range of that aural fuckery. Suddenly the supermarket intercom switches from light Muzak to the same jingle, and “Today is double-point day! Double-point day!” blares across the entire store.


towelI exit. A light rain has started to fall, and I don’t have an umbrella. It’s a little early, but I say screw it and pop open a chuhai and have some of the chicken, a charcoal-grilled yakitori skewer in special sauce, while waiting for the rain to die down. The yakitori isn’t so much cold as it is near-frozen. As I chew on it, it occurs to me that the Japanese onomatopoeia for the sound it makes in my mouth is shari shari.

A man walks up, a fellow foreigner. He looks to be in his mid-forties, with a handlebar mustache and unkempt hair, walking a white Shiba dog. Back in the States, he probably rode a Harley to work and looked men in the eye like he was the shit. But here, today, we do the gaijin dance and pretend not to see each other, me looking off to one side while he suddenly feels the need to check his watch. His dog saves the moment by pulling him in another direction, and in seconds they’re gone.

I begin walking home. On the way, I turn down a side street to check out something that’s always intrigued me, a sign for a 手打ち (handmade) soba restaurant smack in the middle of a residential area. It turns out whoever runs the place is running it right out of his own house; the door next to the “restaurant” entrance is open, and through the sliding door I can see a TV, a living room scattered with magazines.

A lady exits. She wears jeans two sizes too small and works it like someone who knows exactly what she’s doing. She catches me peering under her umbrella to confirm what I’d already guessed, that she is in her late 30s/early 40s and strikingly attractive. I turn, pretending not to have been staring.

A portly elderly gentleman approaches. He does that really annoying thing that Tokyo people do, walking directly into your trajectory and pointedly ignoring the fact that you exist. At this rate we’re bound to collide. I consider ramming my shoulder right the hell into him to teach him a lesson. Instead, I move to one side and let him pass. Wouldn’t want to spill my chuhai.


Just a typical day.


15 Responses

  1. Ah yes, the lack of peripheral vision is somewhat lacking in many Tokyoites. My favourites are those who decide to stop abruptly in front of the station ticket barriers to fish their commuter pass out of their bag, causing a human pile-up of epic proportions behind them.

  2. So, did you have your point card on you in the supermarket?

  3. Heh, your blog somehow made me both depressed and content to live here at the same time…

    I sometimes wonder about the lack of peripheral vision…I suppose it’s because they’re not a culture that has to worry much about people attacking them from behind or trying to kill them…

    …but dammit if it’s not the most annoying thing on earth when people just swerve into your way without a care in the world!

  4. I usually just bump them out of the way. How hard the bump is depends on what I’m listening to on the iPod at the time. Woe betide the person who crosses my path while I’m listening to Slayer or Pantera.

  5. don’t you just love the gaijin dance?
    I love the africans though. They are quite the opposite…they run up to you and scream, ” what’s up my brother? ” and bump their right hands against their chest…while i do the dance…but it takes two to tango so i usually wind up acknowledging them in some way

    good post dude!!! I felt you all the way

  6. Great post.

    These days I too admit to dropping the shoulder on those guys who won’t yield an inch. Works a treat!

  7. a slice of life. enjoyed it. thanks.

  8. you should of given him the shoulder than took the woman by the hair and dragged her back to your apartment…caveman style..

    i must be a scary gaijin because EVerybody gets out of my way.. even in the middle of shibuya..dunno if thats a good thing though

  9. I bowled someone over (he was about 18 and looked like a girl to me) 2 weeks ago. He’s lucky he didn’t get kicked in his head while he was down. If there weren’t 50 people around I woulda just to teach him a lesson.

    The “gaijin dance’ is weird huh. Like getting on an elevator and everyone stops talkin. Where the f___ did that come from?? My “Elevator manners” manual musta got lost in the mail cuz that is always trippy!! I just start talking to myself just to crank -up the “Weird” level 😉

  10. is it wrong to openly laugh at ugly gaijin guys with the hot Jgirls? seriously i just cant help myself when i see it… they dont look at me but the girls are grinning when they see me laughing.. they have to know…

  11. +1 for use of the word “fuckery”

  12. lol the gaijin dance…
    I guess there are still a few civil gaijins that acknowlegde their fellow gaijin with a smile or a hi sometimes. Met one on the train this morning actually..

  13. I have been living here too long to notice any of that. I have reprogrammed myself that I only radar the [paraphrase] late 30s early whatever stunners in jeans (or whatever) two sizes too small.

  14. point, poin,t point,… ni bai, ni bai…

  15. @Steve – LOL, that’s exactly it! Looks like we shop at the same branch of supermarket…

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