Ah, springtime in Japan; there’s nothing like it. The world is once again alive with color as the ume trees bring forth their red blossoms, sakura bloom with pink, and half the nation is covered in a delicate, yellow smog from China. It is, as the Japanese say, a breathtaking sight. And God, nothing makes a man feel more alive than a city full of women in miniskirts, high boots, and white surgical masks.
Yellow Sand from China
I’m not sure what’s happening to the earth, but I’m pretty sure it’s not good. Between the desertification of Mongolia and the smogification of Beijing, carried on the winds, Japan is turning yellow. Not like it needs any help in that department. Every surface is blanketed in smog and dust: cars, park benches, children. As a result, the everyone’s either sneezing, coughing, or wearing surgical masks, and usually all three.
The Importance of Daily Routine
So I came home yesterday wearing my white mask carrying a plastic bag full of malt liquor and tempura shrimp. You know, Ken Seeroi is a great believer in keeping a daily routine to maximize personal effectiveness. This week, the routine includes opening a beer, microwaving as many snacks as possible, and finding the channel changer. I’m still working out the kinks, but it’s been mighty effective so far. Only my pants seem to be shrinking, but I assume that’s a laundry issue. Is it my fault that Japan has so many delicious snacks? No, it’s not. I checked. And then, just as I settled onto a nice, soft floor with my fried shrimp and booze, I remembered, Damn, I forgot the laundry outside. For about half a week.
Doing Laundry in Japan
There’s not much that’s good about doing laundry in Japan, starting with the fact that the washers use only cold water. How am I supposed to get my whites their whitest? And then for some reason unexplainable using the Japanese language, instead of just throwing everything in the dryer and being done with it, the entire nation hangs its wash outdoors. Balconies and railings stretching from here to the horizon are draped with everyone’s long johns and futon covers. Unless it rains, and then everything gets hung indoors. On stormy days, my apartment is like a rainforest of wet clothes, with shirts pinned up on curtain rods, pants thrown over the bathroom door, and a row of socks warming on the TV. It’s damp, is what I’m saying.
So I went out on my balcony and brought everything in, then started folding and neatly putting things away. So much trouble, wearing clothes, really. Well, maybe “folding” is too precise a term. But somehow “cramming stuff in drawers” sounds way worse. Maybe let’s just say, um, “compacting.” I mean, I’ve got a tremendous number of shirts and there’s not a lot of space in a Japanese apartment, even if one’s clothes were folded. Whatever, I’d managed to get about sixteen white shirts wadded up and jammed into a drawer when I noticed, Hmmm, isn’t everything—what’s the word I’m looking for?—Yellow? Not quite. Orange? Yeah, that’ll do. I held a shirt up to the light, and turned it from side to side. You know how if you look at something one way, it looks messed up, but if you look at it another way, it looks okay? Yeah, well, this wasn’t like that. No matter how I looked at the shirt, it had a faint orange glow. I guess that’s an improvement, kind of. I mean, orange shirt, what’s not to like? But then there was the dust. My apartment smelled like a mini Chinese factory. I stopped the compacting process, sat there on the floor, and realized God was trying to tell me something. Japanese God. He said, Ken Seeroi, nature is vanishing, the planet is screwed; it’s up to you to do something. Remember your training and trust your instincts. And at that moment, I realized He was right. So I opened a malt liquor, nuked up some shrimp, and turned on the TV. Gotta stick with the plan. Thanks, Japanese God.
Sakura Season in Japan
Three cans of malt liquor later, I doused everything with bleach and stuffed it into the washing machine. It cost me 600 yen to get my shirts back to their original state, after which the inside of my apartment once again became a three-day showroom for wet laundry. But I felt good, because I knew that winter was finally over. That, and I’d had three malt liquors. Ah, soon it’ll be time to relax outdoors, take in the wonders of nature on giant blue plastic sheets spread under the sakura trees, and remove our surgical masks to drink sake. Yes, spring is in the air. That, and just a bit more.