June 12

Numbers Lie!

This morning on my train to school I used my favorite algorithm for predicting whether I’d be sorry I didn’t go back to get my umbrella: I counted the number of Japanese people carrying theirs. Today it was about 30%, so I smugly figured there was a 70% chance I’d return home before looking like a drowned cat.

Oh how wrong I was. But how come only 30% of Japanese people were carrying umbrellas this morning, but 100% had them handy when it started to pour??? For sure, a few of them had to spend ¥500 at a convenience store to buy one of those “judge me because I didn’t check the weather report” variety, but more than 30% had “real” ones. Where did they come from?

Sitting on the train in my damp sweater, I watched the woman across from me meticulously refold her collapsible model and realized: they all carry Stealth Umbrellas. Here in Japan, there are some that fold up to about the size of a hot dog, so you can carry them in your purse or briefcase. 30% of people I passed this morning had the big normal kind, but 70% were apparently carrying concealed weapons of mass dryness.

And why, you may ask, don’t *I* have one of these miracles of modern technology? Maybe it’s because trying to fold them up again after they’re deployed is like trying to craft a Statue of Liberty from a sheet of origami paper…

Jonelle Patrick writes novels set in Tokyo

In the wake of a deadly earthquake, fans erupt in a frenzy of mourning when it’s discovered that their favorite pop star is among the dead. But when Detective Kenji Nakamura is sent to investigate a death at a local shrine, he finds evidence that suggests the impossible: How could the head priest have been murdered by…read more