Wake up, gaijin-san

tokyo japan I open my eyes to a world of crying cicadas and damp tatami. As I leave my wooden house a praying mantis blocks my path. I smile and say hello. It stares back, motionless, silent. “Where are you going, gaijin-san?” she finally questions. “I’m hungry. I need to buy some lunch,” I reply. “Would you like to join me?” Dressed in matching green we freewheel through avenues and alleyways, wind in our hair, smiles on our faces. “Can you smell the humidity, gaijin-san?” she turns and asks. “That’s the smell of the dying Japanese summer. Soon it will be gone.” As we cycle round the streets of Tokyo distant drums echo softly through the streets. Japanese flutes fly past buildings and dogs in baskets look both content and confused at the same time. The door of a pachinko palour opens and a tsunami of white noise drowns the street. “This is the sound of Neo Tokyo, gaijin-san. Listen carefully and you can hear voices.” A festival blocks our path, old men in yukatas hold cans of Kirin while children line the kerb, knees hunched up to their chins. Three girls are drinking bottles of lemon water, seeing who can take the smallest sip. The bottle will last them all day. We cycle past coin laundries and convenience stores, vending machines and parking lots. With the city fading behind us, we continue on our journey. “Keep going, gaijin-san. There’s no reason to stop.”

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