You know how it goes when a VIP comes to town: streets unexpectedly blocked, swarms of shifty-eyed men in dark suits with little curly wires in their ears, cavalcades of unnecessarily long dark cars swanning through the streets? Annoying, right?
Well, in Japan, everybody takes the subway, so you’d think these irritating VIP visits would be only marginally inconvenient, but you’d be WRONG. In preparation for the American President’s visit, the Powers That Be decided that not only trash cans, but also recycle bins(!), were Public Safety Menace #1, and for a week, all the places to toss that empty drink bottle/can you bought at a vending machine are taped shut.
Why? you might ask. GOOD QUESTION. Thanks to one bunch of crazies who released sarin gas in the subway twenty years ago, the Japanese authorities live in fear that some terrorist group will cleverly use that been-there-done-that idea and turn the trash receptacles of Tokyo into deadly weapons of mass destruction. (By the way, the sarin gas wasn’t hidden in trash cans, but all trash cans disappeared from Tokyo after that anyway, wtf?)
Meanwhile, millions of Japanese are cursing President Obama and the limo he rode in on, as they tote their empties endlessly around like The Trash Without A Country.
Read a novel set in Tokyo
Writing mystery books set in Tokyo is mostly what I do, but I also blog about the odd stuff I see every day in Japan. I'm a graduate of Stanford University and the Sendagaya Japanese Institute in Tokyo, and a member of the International Thriller Writers, the Mystery Writers of America, and Sisters In Crime. When I'm not in Tokyo, I live in San Francisco. I also host a travel site called The Tokyo Guide I Wish I'd Had, so if you're headed to Japan and want to check out the places I take my friends when they're in town, take a look!