I asked the doctor to take your picture

Three immaculate office ladies — OLs for short — flex their calves in perfect unison on the projection screen in front of me. It’s standard practice in the Land of the Rising Sun, for both morning exercise shows and airline safety videos, to have three Asian chickies in a neat little row, doing whatever synchronized calisthenics are the order of the day.

Not that I’m complaining. I’ve been wine-goggling them all the way to Tokyo. So all of them leg-flexing chickies look just peachy to me.

This business trip is first to the Tokyo Game Show, and thence to the Japanese parent company of my employer. My wife will follow me here in two days, and we’ll have another short vacation. I told one of my Japanese counterparts that this was my wife’s first time in Tokyo. “I am very concerned,” he wrote in an e-mail, “about your wife. This is the first, I think? Is it OK? When you are in a meeting, do you need me to take care of her?”

Now if this guy had been French, I’d have instantly hit him up for nude pictures of his wife in response. But this is Japan, and most businessmen here would rather die than be rude. I wrote back, “Thank you very much for your kind concern, but she speaks some Japanese.”

Still, I’m gonna keep an eye on this son of a bitch.

Chiba City: smudgy and overcast. Apartment complexes, forty stories tall. Each one is heaped together from matchbox-sized apartments. On tens of thousands of tiny balconies you can just make out bedsheets and other laundry, drying very slowly in the soupy city air.

Tokyo: smudgy and overcast. Gas: 96 yen per liter. (Think four dollars per gallon.) Cockeyed radio antennas, giant electrical towers, six-foot satellite dishes, rooftop air conditioning units, kilometers of overpasses and underpasses and over-underpasses, neon backlit corporate logos.

Today’s Japlish: “I’m Star-Beach.”

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