March 15

“Bring Out Yer Dead!”

Like the carts that went around plague-stricken Europe in the dark ages, this truck was parked in front of Takadanobaba station today, carting away all the blown-out, abandoned umbrellas left behind after last week’s rainstorm.

Why so many? you may ask. Notice that almost all of them are the telltale clear ¥500 variety bought by hapless individuals who forgot to check the weather report and got caught far from home without a bumbershoot. These umbrellas are worth every yen you pay for them, which is to say that they fall apart after only a few uses. But how to get rid of a broken umbrella? The garbage police are so strict, they certainly won’t cart away a defunct umbrella if you put it out at the curb on non-burnable garbage day, because it’s longer than 30 cm. So the most common solution is to stick the broken one in the wet umbrella rack outside a convenience store, go in and buy a new one, and “forget” to take the old one home with you.

Jonelle Patrick writes novels 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