- Contrary to what often gets reported in the news (see The Onion), Japan is not populated by robots. They only represent a small portion of the population.
- Also, dogs speak differently in Japan. Instead of the popular "woof, woof" in English (or even "le woof woof" in French), they say "wan, wan." Who knew? I think they still sniff each other's rear ends though. Must be universal although I wouldn't suggest it to anyone.
- The train system here actually doesn't work well at all. When a train is late, the conductor will give you a note to give to your boss explaining that it wasn't your fault that you were late for work. How many New Yorkers could survive a week without using the unsubstantiated "oh, the bus/train was running late?" Late trains are national news in Japan. Of course, late trains occur about as often as murders in Japan (see #4).
- Murders and deaths do happen in Japan. It's just that the rate is even lower than the murder/death rate at DisneyWorld. (See #1 above for speculation-it's an endless cycle. Who really invented Audio-Animatronics anyway?). The word safe doesn't even come close to describing Japan.
Well, I have been here now for just over 2 weeks and have a few stories to share. I consider myself a lucky guy. This fact was confirmed upon my arrival in Japan. My current belongings (other than what I have stowed with Kirk and Katy) were jammed into 3 suitcases and a bass travel-trunk. All of this stuff safely arrived in Narita (Tokyo's international airport) and made it through customs. The customs official didn't look at the paperwork I was carrying. He just laughed at me (I think this was even in English). That was encouraging. The whole customs process, including getting my instructor visa took less time that it took me to get my daily bagel at the Lucky Star deli on 43rd (generally, less than 60 seconds). Again, I think this is where people think "robot-robot"...Anyhow, on the other side of the door was Kana. (Sigh) Here's where I reiterate lucky. Although she weighs less than my bass, she pitched in and helped me get to the train. If it wasn't for Kana, I might still be at the airport-or even in New Jersey.
After a 50 minute ride (and quite a comfy one too) to Shinagawa Station, we decided to take a gamble and try to find a taxi. Now, Shinagawa is a MAJOR transit hub in Tokyo. I assumed we could find a plus-size taxi (Lane Bryant style) there with little or no problem. Well, it is true what they say about when you "assume" too much. No big cabs. Whoops. Japanese cabs are about the size of a Corolla but with lace accents and are impeccably well maintained. Must be the Victorian influence. After waiting the the line (or queue) for taxis for an eternity, it seemed that no one would take us. Fortunately, our timing was perfect. Just as I was about to have a coronary, one little taxi waved us over. Apparently, this was a smart man. With the alacrity of a Transformer, he converted his cab into just the right size vehicle for Kana, me, AND my stuff (bass included). As it turns out, of the 20 million people in the Tokyo area and the thousands of taxi drivers, we hired a former jazz bass player. He even showed me some photos to prove it. Now there is lucky and then there is LUCKY. I only hope that this is not foreshadowing a future career option for me. Not only did he get us home quickly but also at a fraction of what it should have cost. I am a lucky guy.
Pat (AKA-Patosan パトさん）