Thursday, March 30, 2006

Not Much to Report

I have been busy with work lately and that has led to a drastic reduction in the time I have had to post...or do anything else for that matter. Day before yesterday, I was sent to a city called Fukui to substitute for a class. I was put up in easily the nicest hotel I have stayed in since coming here and yesterday I returned back to the sticks and taught here. When I returned to Fukuchiyama, I found that winter was making yet another attempt to counter the effects of spring and there was snow on the ground.

In theory, I will be getting internet hooked up in the pad in a week or two so that will be good. I have a lot of stuff I want to post on here but it would be a ton easier if I could do that from my laptop. Soon.

I got a flat tire a few days ago and took it to get fixed today. They patched it up and its as good as new, best of all, they only charged me $10.00 to do it and had it fixed in ten minutes.

I have been getting excited because I will be taking another trip almost exactly a month from now. I will be going to Tokyo. Several of the people I trained with and I have decided to have a reunion of sorts and so we are all going to Tokyo for a few days. While there, we will be seeing the imperial palace, Akihabara, and Ginza along with a ton of other stuff. It should be fun. Reid and Karie from Canada are renting a car and then they are coming to Fukuchiyama to pick me up. From my place we will drive about five or six hours to Tokyo where we will meet Ben and Monique. We are renting an apartment for the time we are there and that should save us some money on food and whatnot. The car was the biggest savings of all due to the fact that for a round trip train ticket from here to Tokyo would have cost me almost $350.00. The car rental is costing that much and there are three of us taking it. A ton of money will be saved and it will be a freaking cool road trip. I am looking forward to it.

Other than that, not a lot has been going on. Yesterday, a cop stopped me in the train station and asked to see my passport and asked me what I was doing there. I gave him my Alien Registration Card and told him I was a teacher and he seemed to be cool with all of my information. I think he told me that he had seen me several times before and just want to make sure I was kosher. He was not a jerk or anything during the entire meeting and before he left he tried to pronounce my last name, bowed to me, and said thank you and that was it. It was just kind of odd, cops make me a tad nervous and Japanese cops are no exception. Actually, while on the topic, I will say a word or two about Japanese police.

Japan is renoun for having an extremely low crime rate. Violent crime is almost non-existant here and if a crime is committed with a gun, it makes national news. When I tell people that a town close to where I lived in the US had drive-bys on occasion, they just stare in awe at me. It doesn`t happen in Japan. If and when a gun crime occurs here, it is usually the Japanese mafia that instigated the situation. Like England, Japanese police did not start carrying firearms until recently and even now, not all of them do. If a report of a gun crime comes in, the equivalent of the SWAT team gets called to handle the problem. Japan as a country has a very low gun ownership rate and most crimes are committed with knives here.

Japanese police have a lot more power than American police do. Things that would for sure get a criminal trial in the US thrown out on a technicality are somewhat commonplace here. For example, in the US if you are arrested, you get your phone call and have the right to an attorney. American law enforcement can only hold a person for twenty four hours and after that point, must file charges against you in order to hold you any longer. In Japan, cops can detain you for pretty much anything and can hold you for up to twenty hours. Upon hitting the twenty hour mark, they can then decide whether or not to hold you for another three days before they file charges. Basically, when confronted by a Japanese cop, cooperate with them or they can make your life hell pretty much on a whim. If you get taken in for questioning in Japan and do not speak Japanese, they must provide you with an interpretter but the person being questioned has to ask for one before they will give one to you sometimes. If your in this situation in Japan, you have to tell them you will not cooperate until an interpretter is present. As for the phone call, that is a judgement call on the cops` part. You are not entitled to one here.

Now that I have made Japanese cops look mean, I must say the ones that I have watched or dealt with, conduct themselves in a very friendly, cordial manner. Japanese cops are trained to act somewhat more like friendly helpers than law enforcement officers. In major cities, you will find a small police station called a koban every couple of blocks. The cops that work in these kobans are taught to make friends with the people in their area and it is not uncommon for them to know most of the residents in their section. I am pretty certain the cop that stopped me yesterday was stationed in the koban outside my train station and had noticed me and had used his brilliant investigative powers to come to the conclusion, I was not from around there. Basically, he racial profiled me and followed up by making sure I was supposed to be there, something I think more cops in America should do. Even if he didn`t stop me based on race, I think it is cool that he noticed that I didn`t belong in his area and wanted to see why I was there. The cops in Japan are very unobtrusive but they are indeed watching whats going on. Its not that I horribly care what the cops are doing, its just kind of cool to know that they pay attention to their surroundings and are familiar with the people enough to know when something is out of place.

Anywho, thats my tangent for the day. I like Japanese cops.


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