OK, so the comments haven't disappeared, don't blame me, I was just passing on what they told me, or what I thought they told me. Whatever, the comments are all still there and new ones can be added so I don't know wtf is going on (hah! like that's any change...), but as long as I don't have to change anything with the template I'm good with that.
They're everywhere, man, just everywhere. And I'm just, like, OMG! It's sooo kinda out there!!! Ooops, sorry, a bit of the princess dippy blog there spilling back into the Arakawa universe (see the comments section of the last post if your really want to).
No, signs, they really are everywhere, telling you what to do or passing on information that you really don't need. Then again, every now and again you see a sign or two that makes you think 'yeah, see what they mean' or 'hmm, useful info, thanks' or even 'wtf?'
This is a long way of getting around to talking about a couple of signs the Guru and I saw the other day. Last Sunday we were in Kudanshita (I know, on a Sunday! Believe me not a lot goes on in Kudanshita on a Sunday but there we were, actually, not a lot goes on in Kudanshita most of the time, I reckon) as we were taking the little fella to a birthday party. "What, in Kudanshita? On a Sunday!?" Yes, believe it or not. Kudanshita is the bit of Tokyo just to the north of the imperial palace compound, with a bit of moat, a lot of cherry trees for spring, Budokan (if a concert is on - I saw Oasis there many a moon ago, maybe 1998), Yasukuni Shrine (enshrined class A war criminals (read the archives for more)) and not much else. But one of Marcus' school chums' fathers works for OUP and probably has strong embassy (which is close by but round the corner in Hanzoumon) connections and so for some reason chose a restaurant, no, a Bar & Grill, in Kudanshita for his daughter's 5th birthday party. Maybe it's because his wife is Russian, I don't know.
Anyway, we dropped the fella off (does this make us bad parents? A birthday party - here, you look after 20 kids with too much sugar intake for 2 hours whilst the wife and I have a Starbucks, just the two of us, for the first time in 3 months... No, sensible parenting, if you ask me) and then went to find the aforementioned Starbucks. The cafe in question was on the ground floor of an office building, which had the following sign affixed:
Now, doing business is the purpose of an office block, if you ask me, so what is it that people have against pets in Kudanshita? Worried that a bunch of market-savvy corgis are about to move in and clean up, or maybe a syndicate of Siamese are about to move in - that's probably a good idea as the area looks like it needs a high class pussy or two around to liven things up (ba-dum-tsh, I thank you!)
Anyway also spotted on our wanderings was the next sign:
It's the 1st floor that is of interest here. Now, think about James Bond (bear with me), when he is under cover and trying to get that all important first meeting with Blofeld he doesn't call up and say "This is James Bond from MI6" does he? No, he says "James Bond, Universal Exports" - it's called a 'cover', from what I am to believe reading John Le Carre novels. In Japan they don't bother with this sort of cloak-and-dagger stuff when it comes to espionage, they just play it straight and tell you how it is.
So I couldn't believe it either when I saw the sign above which says (roughly translated)
1F Office Japan Secret Service
Of course it could all be a front, I mean there was me, a shaven-headed foreigner taking pictures of the Secret Service building and so far no SWAT team has jumped through our living room window spraying bullets and tear gas...