Sayonara, Tokyo

My last morning in Tokyo dawns muggy, so I am out for my morning walk in my short-sleeved shirt. I was wrong about the cherry blossoms, they are coming in, not finishing, and this walk is a glorious and sublime stroll under the overhanging blossoms on my high path. Periodically, older people are doing exercises, one man stretching as far as he can up a pine tree and pulling down on the bark, as if trying to scrape the tree’s energy into himself, again and again. At the far end of the path, the heavens open. I duck into the nearest subway station to buy an umbrella ($4, and better than your similar NY cheapie) and have a coffee reading the Herald Tribune (feeling quite the world traveler).

But it stays raining, and I join the gluts and clots of people disgorging from the station (I never did take a train at rush hour, and so missed the joy of being pushed into a crowded subway car). The businessmen nearly identical in dark suits, briefcases, surgical masks – distinguishable under their umbrellas only by their ties. The businesswomen are quite the same, minus the ties. It is a negotiation, navigating the street with so many umbrellas, and I am soaked by the time I get back to the hotel. I stop by a pharmacy, mime a cold to the wry-necked druggist. I get some pills I cannot, of course, identify, but with a Westerner’s faith in Oriental medicane, I await results.

Every store has a little tray where you put your money, to avoid inadvertant body contact.


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