December 02

How Much is that Animal Butt in the Window?

This is the side window of a toy store I pass every day on the way to the train station. I laughed the first time I saw it, then I realized it’s a perfect example of Japanese priorities. From the outside, all you see is the backsides of stuffed animals with their little white tags sticking out of places where the sun don’t shine. But if you go into the store, these same toys are all facing you with their considerable charms, begging you to take them home.

Peoples’ private houses and traditional inns are the same way. From the outside they look plain and even a little shabby. But once you walk through the door, you’re suddenhy surrounded by gorgeous manicured gardens, lovely polished wood, and fabulous flower arrangements. Nobody cares what people walking past will think; all the effort is directed toward the ones who’ve been invited inside.

Read a novel set in Tokyo

When Detective Kenji Nakamura’s phone rings with the news that his mother’s death wasn’t an accident, his life begins to unravel…read more