By now I’m sure all of you back in the states are reeling in pain over how much turkey and stuffing you’re eaten over the past few hours. I am extremely jealous. It’s Friday afternoon here, and it’s also Thanksgiving! Well, kind of. It’s actually Labor Thanksgiving Day, a kind of Japanese Labor Day. Anyway, it’s a convenient coincidence and also a day off over here, so that’s a bonus. While it’s possible to get turkey here, it’s even more impossible to find a way to cook it, so we’re all going out tonight for Korean BBQ at Top Run, the super yakiniku buffet, to gorge ourselves properly.
A quick story to start the day. I had a private lesson scheduled at 1PM today, so I was sitting around at the station waiting for the guy to show up. He calls me at 1:01 to say he can’t make it. Come on! I haven’t decided if I’ll make him pay for the lesson, which I think I’m supposed to do. I probably will. Anyway, as I go back to the illegal bicycle parking area, where I had been towed from less than 2 weeks ago, I take the lock off my bike and throw it into the basket. (Yes, my bike has a basket and a bell. Shut up). I get tapped on the shoulder by this old guy in a windbreaker. Excuse me, can I talk to you for a minute? Great, I figure. There are a few different religious groups and cults who hang around Chiba station trying to recruit people, so I figured this guy was one of them. I was just about to pull the old Sorry I don’t speak Japanese line when the guy reaches into his jacket pocket, presumably to pull either a brochure or a gun on me. Either way I didn’t want it. I’m not a weirdo or anything, I’m actually with the Chuo-Ward Police Department, he explains as he shows me his ID and badge. Crap. I assumed he was going to give me grief for parking my bike illegally along with the other 100 people who had done the same. Not at all.
Turns out him and his partner, who was standing behind me without me previously noticing, were just going around to do checks and stuff. They noticed the built-in lock on my bike had a key in it and looked broken, and just wanted to check. They asked me where I lived and my name. After I said Leong, I think he also kind of assumed me being foreign was part of the reason I was so weirded out by their sudden approach. Sorry to scare you, just wanted to see if your bike was OK. I explained that I don’t use the built-in one so I leave the key in it while I keep the other on my key chain. I use a stronger lock, which I pointed to in the basket.
So that was my first ever stopped-by-the-police encounter here in Japan. They didn’t need to see my ID, didn’t give me any grief, nothing. They were just trying to make sure I knew my bike might have been broken. They were actually some of the nicest random people I’ve spoken to here, which is saying a lot for Japan. It was kind of weird though, because they weren’t just the bike cops, they were actually plain clothes officers. Maybe detectives? Who knows. I’m just glad I didn’t give them any lip or didn’t to ignore them as I rode away, assuming they were cult members. The day might have gotten a lot messier.