A Japanese Birthday Party for the Yakuza Boss

Japanese cat in park

If there’s a rattier bar in Japan, I’ve yet to find it. But I give the place points for being somewhere that patrons can shuffle to in sweatpants and get a cup of shochu with hot water for 100 yen.

So last Saturday, I got up at noon, threw on my best Adidas sweatpants, and shuffled down to the rattiest bar in the nation for a 250-yen beer. Hey, I like to treat myself.

The yakuza boss was already there, sitting at the head of the table as usual. That’s if you can call a sheet of plywood atop plastic crates a table.

“It’s my 81st birthday,” he announced proudly.

“I know,” I said. “That’s why I dressed up.”

Continue reading “A Japanese Birthday Party for the Yakuza Boss”

A Sunday in Japan

Obama Japan

Last Sunday I went for a hike, I think. I mean, you’re never entirely sure what just happened in this strange country, but after a while you get used to it. That’s Japan in a nutshell.

It all started when Ruriko called at six A.M. I fell out of my futon, which albeit is about an inch high, turned off two alarm clocks and unplugged the lamp before realizing the source of annoyance was the phone. Really gotta remember to turn off that ringer.

“Ken!” she said brightly, “feel like going for a hike?” Ruriko made it sound like it was noon.

“Do I ever,” I replied. Continue reading “A Sunday in Japan”

Poverty in Japan

Recently, the subject of poverty in Japan came up, so, uh, let me tell you about my friend Emi. She’s a dancer. We’ll get around to the poverty in a minute. Don’t worry, it’s not going anywhere.

“Want to come to my flamenco performance?” she cooed. We were sitting on the riverbank drinking cans of malt liquor and watching the sunset. Emi does this thing with her eyes that makes every crazy thing coming out of her mouth sound like an excellent idea.

“Do I?” I blurted out. “In Japan? I thought they were only in Florida!”

“Those are flamingo, you dolt. Flamenco. Like the dance?”

“Oh.” I tried to hide my disappointment by downing half a can of Kirin. I have this thing for pink birds. Continue reading “Poverty in Japan”