A Tale of Universal Appeal

140117_0938~01I learned my lesson from the morning train ride on Wednesday. It is worth being at the wrong end of the train to take the women only car. It was still packed but I didn’t have a bunch of smelly men towering over me, jamming their briefcases into my back.

We finished Soness’s recording early and I had about 45 minutes before the next voice would arrive. She needed to get her hair styled and invited me to go with her, which sounded like a perfectly girly, fun way to kill some time. I sat in the chair next to hers and we chattered about facial feng shui and how changing your looks changes how you feel about yourself.

PENTAX DIGITAL CAMERABack to the studio, another break between voices. One of my colleagues commented on the pink mouse and I said it’s not really me. The kind of person who has a pink mouse is the kind of person who dots their I’s with little hearts and covers their cell phone and fingernails with sparkly things. I have NEVER dotted an I with a heart, not even when I was 13. I abhor sparkly nails and my phone is unadorned. My colleague suggested that the next time I go to the office to test software they’ll give me a pink headset covered with sparkles so it looks like a tiara.

I think not.

That job done, I had three hours to kill, and having had such fun at the historical museum, I decided to check out the fire museum.

What I learned at the fire museum:

Fire is a big deal anywhere, but especially in Japan where for generations, buildings were made of wood and paper. Unless one lived on the banks of a river, there was no infrastructure to provide adequate water for firefighting, so when the town lookout sounded the alarm, fire brigades came running, not with buckets and hoses but with metal hooks attached to spears.

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Fire brigade standards

Each brigade’s standard bearer would leap onto the roof of a house surrounding the burning one and dance around with the standard until his feet started getting hot. (There was a great deal of honor, and machismo, surrounding how long the dancer could maintain his position.)

PENTAX DIGITAL CAMERAMeanwhile, the fire brigades would proceed with tearing down the surrounding houses so the fire wouldn’t spread. This was called “demolition firefighting”.

Fires could start for any number of reasons. Perhaps someone tripped over a kerosene stove or a charcoal cooking brazier got knocked over by an earthquake. Perhaps Mrs. Ohara’s cow kicked over a lantern.

There was no insurance in those days, so people kept their valuables in big wooden boxes on wheels so they could bug out quickly. Unfortunately, those boxes also blocked the streets and impeded the fire fighters and were eventually banned. So if you were the unfortunate slob who started a fire, not only did your neighbors lose their houses, they lost everything else. I wouldn’t have wanted to be him.

I didn’t get a personal docent this time, but I really wanted a silly picture to go with this post, so I asked the reception desk lady and she gladly obliged.

PENTAX DIGITAL CAMERALeaving the museum, I ran into Kan, a freelance director I’ve worked with a few times over the years. It’s almost spooky how often I run into people I know. There are 12 million people in Tokyo and I don’t know that many of them. Maybe I’m connected to people on some plane I’m not aware of.

The final studio job went fine. I got to direct, which I enjoy, and the voice was Matthew, whom I hadn’t seen in nearly 10 years. We bantered. It was fun.

Leaving the studio, I was greeted by a gorgeous, orange-tinted full moon. I stared in wonder as my warm breath clouded the frosty air.

I don’t know what’s going on with my karma these days. It feels like something is trying to fill a void that has been empty for too long. Maybe the universe is reaching out to me; maybe I’m reaching out to the universe; maybe it’s mutual. Whatever it is, I’m grateful for it.

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2 thoughts on “A Tale of Universal Appeal”

  1. What a lovely piece of writing. I can only assume the briefcase reference is a euphemism. I have heard there are terrible groping problems on the trains in Japan.

    Go to more museums. We like hearing about adventures, and you SO have to get a picture with a pink sparkly headset…

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