So I wrote this little work of fiction, based on my life in Japan. Here is an extract.
Limping from all the way from Ome to Tachikawa.
I stepped out of the Lions Mansion, and attempted to walk across the road, and am met by two sets of traffic lights that never seem to change. The first set actually change pretty quickly, so that’s OK and there’s no Koban [police station] near here so nobody can see me dash across the road that, nonetheless, Ome City Council, saw fit to give a second pair of lights. ‘I am my way.’
The buildings loom over me like an unforgiving parent. They seem to say, ‘you’re not worth it – why are in Japan, what on earth do you hope to prove?’ I have no answer for the buildings, except to walk up to the obligatory vending machine, which is couched next to the local karaoke bar and izakaya – a Japanese pub. I get a coke. I hear the locals murdering Tom Waits and move on, past the Family Mart, past the taxis, and their automatically opening doors, past ‘the combini’, the convenience store. At which point, I am faced with stairs, really steep stairs. I reminded of that film ‘ A matter of life and death ‘ when the pilot tried to ascend to heaven. That seems like a tall order. Beyond the stairs lie the trains to such foreign and exotic places as ‘Kichijoji’ and ‘Shinjuku’. I decide to limp up the stairs, one step at a time though, as I don’t want to sweat too much.
I finally make it, up there. And ‘Hallejuah!’ there is a train direct to Tokyo, there is an ‘Ome Liner’ – ‘Sugoi desu’ – ‘Amazing’ I think in my poor Japanese. The train finally arrives. I board the train. It merrily goes past Kabe, Ozaku, Hamura, Fussa, with a glee like it was getting out of Hades. But then it comes to Ushihama, Haijima and Akishima, and it seems to be reluctant to get past that. It finally goes past Nakagami, and Nishi-Tachikawa and arrives at the mecca, the nirvana, the heaven – the final stop.
I have not emerged from the train station, I have to find a elevator, or at least an escalator, fine I shall take the escalator, but only because the girl in front of me is cute.
Finally, I am the top of stairs; the distraction of the kawaii gairyu is removed. I walk past the shops, most of which are selling sandwiches and chocolate. And I’m tired. My left leg just doesn’t work. There will be no Kichijoji or Shinjuku for me. It simply won’t be worth it. Oh I could get there all right, but not in time for anything enjoyable. I decide to explore Tachikawa. And Tachikawa, you know, is really not a bad place. There’s a Luminere, there’s a Cath Kidston store (which has cute girls serving that could be out straight of an Asadora drama.) followed by the exit. Only two ways to go, back or down.
I choose down.
I hope that it is good decision.
So I leave the lift, and in the distance I can see a KFC, Starbucks and a MacDonald’s. Obviously Civilisation lies beyond – and indeed it does. There is a sign for an Irish Pub! I walk up to the sign, confused for at time, forgetting that in Japan everything is on a higher floor. I enter the lift. ‘ni kai desu’ – ‘second floor’. I exit, and indeed the ‘Irish Pub at Tachikawa’ is open. I enter.
The incredibly cute gairyu says ‘enter’, I step back confused, suddenly unsure of all the names of all the beers in the world. Quite frankly, Rena – as I later learned her name is too cute – kawaii indeed. But finally, I blurt out ‘ Pinto Heineken onegaishrimasu’. This was met by a chorus from other services who spoke in English ‘You speak Japanese?’ I tried to reassure that, no I could not, but Rena-san assured that I could without checking with me first. I would later come to thank her for that kindness.
But its three Heineken later and I need to go. I say ‘Argigato gozamaisu’ and waltz out the door. Rena-san says ‘Come again, Arigato!’. The door slams.
After I left the lift, walked out on the street I was must met by the following phrase:
‘Massago desu ka?’