Tuesday, January 14, 2003
Yesterday, for the first time since I came to Japan, the trains were up the creek. Lots of people standing around on the platform, looking confused, no trains in sight, incomprehensible announcements (well, to me, anyway)... it was just like being in England. I was an hour late to work, where I was told I needed to get a chit from the station, confirming the delays, or my company would dock five hours' pay from my wages. This valuable piece of paper is now safely tucked into my wallet.

And I was feeling emotionally tender because I'd just finished Philip Pullman's The Amber Spyglass, the last part of the 'His Dark Materials' trilogy. It's the kind of book that makes you feel as if someone has ripped open your chest, reached inside and squeezed your heart.

Yesterday was also Coming of Age Day in Japan, when 20-year-olds celebrate being able to legally drink alcohol by, well, legally drinking alcohol. Most towns have a big ceremony, where the girls wear traditional kimono and the guys wear traditional dark business suits. However, some towns cancelled this year's event because of drunken shenanigans last year. Amazing, when you think about what a bunch of boozers the Japanese are. The number of salarymen I've seen passed out on the train, and not from exhaustion... As well as lots of girls in kimono, I also saw a man wearing a horse's head, advertising a circus. Here is a picture of a this latter-day centaur-in-reverse:

Had an email from the guy who runs the excellent Japanese Streets site, which is linked to on the left. He interviewed the creator of GloomyBear, Mori Chack. The article is here, and it's excellent, with some great pictures.