The Week of May 25th
Except for Tuesday, May 27th, the last week of May saw continuous rain almost without let up. At times the heat and humidity, plus the inescapable damp it felt like Rainy Season, but the annual Rainy Season isn’t supposed to start until mid-June.
Around 4:45 a.m. on the morning of Sunday, May 25th, I was woken up by an earthquake. Later, my wife and daughter denied feeling anything.
Then around 6:00 a.m. on Monday 26thI was attacked by a large crow while riding my bicycle home form the local AM/PM convenience store. Maybe it was a nesting female with chicks defending her territory or something, and from her perch above on some utility wires outside my building my black baseball cap looked like a rival crow to its eyes. It swooped down from its perch and clawed at my head as I was slowing down, then off again immediately. I managed not to fall off my bicycle. But the bird’s claws scratched my scalp right through the cloth material of my cap, enough to bleed. At first I worried most about how it must have looked. No one was there to see,but still … Then I wanted my wife to report it to the police as a dangerous animal in the neighborhood. But she did nothing. She told me to do it myself. I don’t speak enough Japanese to do that, and in any event I prefer having no dealings, or minimal dealings with Japanese police.
The same thing almost happened again at the same time in the morning on Sunday, June 1st. I assumed it was the same bird, only this time I was ready because every since Monday 26thI have been on guard for crows whenever I leave the apartment.
Junko speculated that the crow that attacked me was the same bird she saw on our balcony the evening before, on Sunday 25th. I didn’t see it, but she said that during some short time that I had left the room and gone to the kitchen there had been a crow on the balcony “attacking” the plastic aquarium where I keep my fresh water lizards (“imori” in Japanese). Again, I am guessing that the bird was aggravated by the black plastic cover of the aquarium. Maybe it was attacking that, because it would not be possible for it to see the imori lizards inside (submerged in water and hidden under fresh water weeds) and to attack them as prey.
Then, around 7:00 a.m. on Tuesday 27th the small table on which we keep the aquarium with my son’s four goldfish collapsed because Junko was leaning on it. About 10-liters of (dirty) water spilled out onto the grass tatami mat floor, futons and pillows. And, of course, the four fish spilled out, too. I guess Junko’s body and clothes took the brunt of the water, but after quickly scooping up the fish and putting them in a bucket in the kitchen sink I had to pry up off the floor two of the 2-meter-by-1-meter mats and put them outside to dry. Thank goodness the weather was really fine that day in an otherwise rainy week.
Late in the afternoon of that same Tuesday I saw some teenage girl - it looked like a teenage girl - lying flat on her back on the road with her cell phone in her hand stretched out in front of her face, pointing to the sky. (I rode by her on my bicycle and thought about ringing the bell. But I didn’t.) It looked like she was taking a picture, or getting ready to take a picture of the sky, or something in the sky, like the clouds or an airplane or something. It was on a quiet residential street near our apartment, not a busy road, so she could safely lie down in it.
Then, on Saturday, May 31st, I performed a wedding at the Yokohama Port International Passenger Terminal. It was my second time to this particular location. The ceremony took place in a restaurant that boasts a panoramic view of the harbor. (It’s a great place to go for dinner during a summer festival when fireworks are being set off over the harbor from floating barges.) The poor weather caused a 30-minute delay in the start of the ceremony which meant that I was in a rush afterwards to get to my next wedding ceremony in Ebina, more than thirty minutes north of Yokohama on a Sotestu Line express train.
After finishing the Yokohamaevent, and as I was leaving the Port Terminal, I noticed a red-and-white Japanese Coast Guard rescue helicopter flying over the harbor. There are a lot of variously sized Japanese Coast Guard ships docked there, so I guessed the helicopter was stationed on board on of the larger ones. It stopped and hovered. Then I noticed a man in the water under the aircraft waving his arms. Distances are hard to judge on the water. Large ships look small, the far shore doesn’t look so far away, etc. Even sound sounds strange on the water. The rescue helicopter remained extremely loud even though it was some distance out over the harbor. I guessed maybe this man was a kilometer offshore. Not only is the harbor water dirty, but it was probably really cold, too, being still only May, plus a rainy day as well. As I watched, a man descended from the helicopter on a cable and dropped into the water just like in the movies. The helicopter then made a big circle and came back to retrieve the both of them. I watched all this on the go, because I was in a hurry to leave the building, get to the subway station and get to the next wedding ceremony. So I could not stop and stare but had to keep glancing to my right out the windows as I walked along.
I have to wonder, though, if it was a real emergency or just a rescue exercise. The man in the water was wearing a bright orange suit, making him easy to spot. But on the other hand, there was some kind of jet skiing competition or show going on in the harbor at that time. I know because I could see them in the distance from the restaurant windows as I was waiting for the ceremony to begin. So maybe it was a genuine accident involving one of those jet skiers or someone else. I tend to think it was an exercise, though, because what are the odds that I would be around just by chance and at just the right moment to witness a real happening?
Then something else happened. After finishing my second wedding ceremony in Ebina I returned to Shinjuku Station in Tokyo on an Odakyu Line express train. While passing through minor stations without stopping, the express train makes several stops at major stations, one of which is called Shimo-Kitazawa. (Coincidentally, in the 1990s I visited a girls’ high school a few times at Shimo-Kitazawa Station as a substitute English teacher. Back then I hated going there because I thought it was so far away. But today I don’t think it’s so far away at all. I know better how to use the trains and read the commuter maps.) I was worn out from waking up early, leaving home late, almost being late, walking all over the place, being on my feet for so long, and having to talk when my voice was already hoarse from the terrible weather - cold, wet, humid, hot, then repeat. At Shimo-Kitazawa Station I was n the lead car when I was woken from my groggy slumber by a male passenger’s voice calling out for someone to alert the train driver. Apparently someone in the car took sick and needed to be taken off. I couldn’t see a thing, though, because the car was so crowded. I was lucky to have a seat, but it was standing room only for most. Whatever the situation was it was resolved sufficiently for the doors to close and the train to go on its way with very little lost time.
My daughter went on a school trip to mountainous, rural Nagano Prefecturefrom Wednesday 28th-to-Friday 30th. First year junior high schoolers (7thgrade) and first year senior high schoolers (10th grade) always go on big school trips together near the start of each school year. Not just at my daughter’s school, but in all schools all across Japan. It is supposed to be a growing-closer-together group bonding exercise.
I knew beforehand that Emma had this trip coming up, but I was unsure about when it was. Then at 10:00 Wednesday night I noticed that Emma wasn’t home yet.
“She went to school trip.”
“She left this morning without saying good-bye! I was right here!”
These days I am always home when my children wake up, eat and leave for school. If I did not pay attention and grab them before they leave they would walk out the door not even saying good-bye to their beloved papa. And that is what Emma did on that day.