Lost In Translation No More
Oh lovely gaijin girl, oh dark Duluth Minnesota denizen of the otaku subculture. We know that lingering question that pervades your origamistic slumbers. So sleep Nara princess, nestled down in your bed upon a sea of Hello Kitty 600-thread linens, you are lost in the arms of Morpheus (no my little manga maven, not that dude from the Matrix, but rather Morpheus the Greek god of dreams) and transported yet again back to the land of the rising sun.
That’s you hurtling across the country dreamscape at 160 mph, dreamily gazing out the window of the Shinkansen bullet train upon the ivory tipped peak of Mt Fui, delicately framed in your Zennish vista by a stylized explosion of ruched cherry blossoms. And yet the answer eludes you. And in another moment there you are, plundering the luxuriant abundance of the Ginza shopping district. But with bags overflowing, you pause beneath the clock tower of the Ginza Wako and wonder if you will ever know the secret.
Perhaps, you muse later that dream night while sensually sipping a Suntory single malt whiskey in an 8th floor karaoke club in the Roppongi, that some things are just unknowable, unpredictable, just like you oh beloved Pachinko Parlor Mama. But before it’s your turn to enchant the assemblage of alcohol flushed businessmen with your throaty rendition of “I Did It My Way,” you are back in a train, a very different train, an uncomfortably crowded train, and people are pressed against you, tightly on every side. It is the morning commute on the Yamanote Line pulling in to Shinjuku Station.
And the doors hiss open and before you writhes a vast sumoian crowd, what seems to be the entire 13 million population of Tokyo. And then, suddenly, all is quiet, preternaturally silent, and a couple emerges from the crowd and enters the train, a foreign couple; the man is tall and balding and looks something like that guy from “Groundhog Day” only older. And the woman is young and voluptuous with lips sufficiently pouty to inspire yet another movie from an increasingly creepy Woody Allen. And the man whispers to her, words that only she (and you) can hear. “Charlotte, I know from whither springs the Geisha’s creamily exquisite complexion, what enlivens her every movement with grace, what inspires and ennobles her every melodic utterance, what informs the dance of her delicate fingers upon the strings of the samisen. It is the alchemic elixir known as “Tokyo Milk. “ At this pronouncement, a feint revelatory smile of first bemusement and then quickly puzzlement flits across the woman’s moist lips, those plumpy trespassers of the vermillion border. “But Bob,” she protests, “why would anyone ever share such an inimitable treasure with the world?” “Nyuutou futaishou, “says Bob. “Lactose Intolerance. It afflicts more than 90% of all Japanese. Even the cows drink beer here.”
And as they turn to leave the train, Charlotte whispers to Bob, “Let’s never come here again because it will never be as much fun.”
And when you awake, little darling Duluthi san, your thin, envious morning lips will whisper as well, “arigatou gozaimashita.” And you will know what you must do. Got Tokyo Milk?