At lunchtime today I found myself wandering down to Inokashira Park again. Unemployed people seem to drift to parks naturally. The tree-lined lake in the park acts like a magnet. In the same way my belly guides me to the bakery, my lungs and legs drag me down to the park.
The park was full of the usual suspects: screaming kids, shy young couples, wannabe-artists, wannabe-musicians and wannaget-drunkers.
Unbalanced from a combination of too much caffeine and not enough sleep, I undertook a bold experiment – I sat down. My eyes demanded something to focus on. Two ducks, they`ll do, they were zigzagging across the lake, never drifting far away from each other.
I remembered Senbako lake in Mito and a Korean girl telling me that wooden ducks are a traditional wedding gift in her country. Apparently ducks are a symbol of fidelity – they don`t divorce.
Several mixed race couples were also wandering around the lake. In all cases, the male was western, the Japanese female. Instinctively I listened to hear what language they are speaking. If the language is Japanese, the standard may be better than mine; if it`s English, it definitely is – this August I somehow failed the English section on a Tour Guide exam (yet passed Japanese history).
My circuit of the lake concluded at the small, strawberry-coloured Benzaiten temple. The Benzaiten Goddess is a foreigner, she comes from Hinduism, but she been in Japan for over a 1,000 years – she must have a good visa.
Benzaiten is the bully of the lake. Her jealousy is notorious, the source of an urban legend. Supposedly she can curse courting couples (although she can`t split-up ducks).
And with these trivial thoughts, I realised why I had come to the park – to take my mind off the trauma of job-hunting. It worked a treat. Now all I wanted to be was a duck.