On the Shinkansen (bullet train) I read these instructions on the back of the tray table: "For your safety don't rush for your train." Reasonable advice. Except that I'm already sitting on the train. Now, unless I'm actually moving backwards through life like Benjamin Buttons (which would explain some of my less flattering baby pictures), in order to be sitting in front of this tray table, I would have already rushed for my train. Yes? So why the delayed advice? Maybe it's just an English problem. Maybe it's meant to say. "Did you rush for your train? Well you shouldn't have. Every Japanese third grader knows that. And now you're sweating all over the plush Shinkansen seat. Why don't you take a few minutes and think about what you've done, Speedy. Then again, there's really not enough space on the back of a tray table for all that. So it'll probably require bigger tray tables and likely a whole new design concept. The phallic thing is only going to appeal to a certain segment of riders. Oh and we'll need a translator to get all that translated into Japanese. Hmm, difficult. Let's just leave it as it is.
I still don’t understand why they build domes. Nowhere feels more like nowhere than the inside of a dome, and for that reason the Nagoya Dome doesn’t suck any more than any other dome in the known universe. Unless you try to squeeze a 12,000 runner relay marathon into it. Then it sucks more… That’s what happened last weekend. Within minutes of the Marathon start the dome smelled like a giant gym locker room with wall to wall astro-turf. The baton pass (or sash pass as it happens in Japanese relays) took place in the Chunichi Dragons’ centerfield, and the course passed through the back door into the parking lot. Two kilometers of hairpin turns and random meandering through the undersized dome parking lot and the runners returned to the dome through the visitors bullpen to pass the sash to the next in line. While it is likely true the the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona is, in fact, a safer event than the passing of the sash in Nagoya Marathon, the running of the bulls is missing one key safety element than is present in the dome: there’s a guy with a bullhorn repeating, “Please stand off the race path.” Of course few noticed as they trampled over him fighting for position to take the sash from their team’s previous runner. Smart teams like us brought big signboards and held them above our heads to stand out from the fray. It worked pretty well, but the teams that hired thugs and goons to push people out of the way fared better. Next year we hire the thugs. Despite these trials, we did pretty well this year. Nobody knows our actual time, but at least everybody on the team finished their leg of the race with nothing more than a few bruises, one broken arm, a collapsed lung and one case of PTSD. Next year we hope to do better.
This is Mozo Wonder City. I don’t know what Mozo means, but Wonder City is certainly the perfect name for a giant shopping mall, isn’t it? Each chain store is filled with “wonder” at retail prices. Each chain restaurant serves platefuls of wonder to guests lined up out the door and down the corridors. We are truly fortunate to be part of the shopping mall generation. Maybe instead of “shopping mall” we should rename all malls “Wonder Cities.” It seems more fitting. This kind of shopping mall is fairly new in Japan. I’m glad it’s here. Before Wonder City we used to have to go outside between stores. Like people used to do before The Gap. You probably can’t imagine what it’s like having to go outside to shop. In summer it’s hot and in winter it’s cold. Sometimes it’s even raining. In Wonder City it never rains. The weather is perfect. The people are all smiling. The streets are paved with carpet, and the sidewalks move. It’s as wonderful as they say. Like Charlie in the Chocolate Factory — Gene Wilder version. Except for the Oompah Loompahs. I still don’t know what “Mozo” means.