I took the rush hour train this morning into Shinjuku. The 15 minute journey was horrendous, excruciating, the carriage so packed I needed a runup to clear enough space to get in. Once wedged inside, there was not enough space to lift an arm to reach a strap let alone fish a manga out.
The cramped conditions were made more unbearable by the fact I was wearing a suit. Most people in the carriage were, even some women. I felt desperately sorry for them in those fleeting moments when I wasn`t feeling desperately sorry for myself.
There is no possible excuse for the suit. The design is dreadful, a sadist`s fancy dress, barely an upgrade from a straitjacket. I felt like I had been wrapped in cardboard; one sudden movement and the fragile frame would be torn apart. At least that would clear the crowds, although I`d be left hoping for an open-minded interviewer.
Sebiro, a Japanese word for suit, is a rendering of Savile Row – the traditional home of London`s top tailors. Britain`s role in popularising this cruel cut of cloth is a huge embarrassment. The whole nation should make a dogeza apology, like this repentant Japanese gentleman.
And finally, the manga of the moment is Kabachitare, (dialect meaning quibblers or hairsplitters). It follows the cases of a small team of administrative scriveners in Hiroshima. I won`t give details: I can`t. Hiroshima-ben maybe notorious for sounding rough; it also reads rough: Honnara, jaga, jaro, honja, nanjakanja, Nanjatto!
Reading Kabachitare reminded me of a Japanese exchange student. She spent 4 years at a Tokyo university learning the Queen`s english then paid for a homestay with the heavily accented, rough-and-tumble Geordies of Newcastle. Apparently she complained and got her money back (but not her teeth).