The Japanese do not handle the rain very well.
“It’s going to stop.”
“The rain. The rain’s going to stop. Any minute now.”
A thunder-clap absolutely rolls across the dark grey sky covering Tokyo and I look up at it from my seat on the balcony.
“Maybe you should say that again. I don’t think it heard you.” Another bolt of lightning and the sudden thunder; right above us but a little south.
“Well, we need to get something to eat anyway. And it’s going to stop any minute now.”
So we put on shoes and go out.
The rain clearly intensifies by the time we are street level and I hold the big black umbrella over my head and step over a large puddle in the middle of the street. The big main street, Gekijo, is oddly empty with just a few people walking alone huddled underneath umbrellas at four in the afternoon in the rain.
A girl in a light white skirt and loose-fitting orange t-shirt hurries by me on my right just as more thunder booms and she physically flinches as if shoved by someone. She hunkers down even more against the rain and the empty street and continues walking.
I stroll ahead and see a small group of people, all young women, trying to wait out the rain under the awning at the 7/11. It’s going to stop, right? Then I catch the glimpse of cat eyes from under a small car and suddenly the cat bolts out from under the car and goes tearing down the wet street.
My shoes are soaking wet.
We pass by a liquor store and down the alley is another young woman. Maybe she is 25 or 26. She is soaking wet. Her black jeans and white T-shirt are soaked through and her black hair, neck length, is dripping. She has no umbrella and is staring into the glowing screen of a smart phone as she hides under an overhang on the side of the booze shop. She’s typing “It’s going to stop soon. Any minute now.” But she’s already soaking wet.
People are crowded under empty shop fronts and in front of the entrances to grocery stores and fish mongers and an empty cafe and there are a lot of people under the pavilion in front of the hotel where a woman was shot in the face two weeks ago.
In the snow this place looked clean and transported. In the rain it looks appropriate. The sewers and drains were designed poorly and they over flow easily. Nothing is washed away, in fact, it all pools and gathers and collects. People get cut off and can’t move anymore. They can’t make decisions; they just stand there, uncomfortable and silent. People just standing there held hostage waiting for something to stop.
Nothing is going to stop. Just get on with it. This shower has cleansed nothing and we realize this and go home.