I get to Shibuya Station a little early to meet a friend, and suddenly I’m so hungry I think I’m going to die. Whipping inside the handy Tokyu store, I buy a miniature bag of chocolate cookies to wolf down before my friend arrives.
Nom, nom, whew, ravenous feeling assuaged. Oh no, unanticipated pitfall! Now there is chocolate all stuck to my teeth. I’ll look like a hillbilly at the nomikai. Must find vending machine with drinks. Ferret around station, find machine. Glug down a half bottle of tea, swishing around to dislodge fake-tooth-gap-looking cookie sludge. Inspect teeth in chrome trim around shop window. OK, safe.
But what am I going to do with the rest of these cookies? Bag is too big to fit in tiny purse, but thanks to the Aum Shinrikyu terror attack in Kasumagaseki Station – in which deadly sarin gas bombs were hidden in trash cans – there have been NO PUBLIC TRASH CANS in Tokyo for 16 years.
Now I’m five minutes late. What to do, what to do? I know it’s wrong, IT’S SO WRONG, but I conceal the bag of cookies in my hand as I push my empty pet bottle through the perfectly drilled hole in the recycling bin, quickly shoving my garbage in after it.
Yumi Hata struggles with this particular weird aspect of living in Tokyo throughout Nightshade and Fallen Angel. Anybody who comes back to Japan after spending time in the outside world is struck by stuff like this, while Japanese people who’ve lived here all their lives don’t give it a second thought.