Kumamoto — First Days

It’s a lazy Saturday morning here in Kumamoto. I’m sitting on a tatami mat next to a shoji screen. It’s hot and cloyingly humid and the smell of soumen is emanating from the kitchen. It would all feel very Japanese if it weren’t for the sound of lion roars and monkey squeals. R’s house abuts the Kumamoto zoo.

Anyway, I started work at a small production company that in spite of (or perhaps because of) its size is called BIG. It’s located on two floors of a narrow office building adjacent from the Kumamoto city central police station, which looks less like an example of municipal architecture and more like it ought to be ferrying Darth Vader to the Death Star. Down the street is a store called “Sweet Camel” which advertises that it sells “Jeans for Aggressive Women.” On Thursday, the day I started working at BIG, a typhoon blew in from the Sea of China. My boss, Horita san, who looks vaguely like Beat Takeshi and who worked on the set of Kurosawa Akira‘s Ran when it was shot near Kumamoto, seemed eager to show me off to his business associates. As I struggled to follow one guy, who was discussing in heavily accented Japanese his plans to hire the handicapped, I became increasingly worried that the building would blow over from the gusts of wind. The floor shook, the windows rattled and stuff (hopefully not asbestos) rained down from the tiles above. And everyone largely ignored the whole thing. I tried to look attentive, by staring at the guy’s lips and not at the trees branches, bits of garage and small children flying past the window.

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