I was surprised to discover recently that Pipo kun, the Tokyo Metropolitan Police mascot, comes in many generations. Normally he’s the youthful character with open mouth and clothed only in a belt and shoulder strap (center image). But as I discovered on a rare visit to Roppongi in the evening hours, he can also be seen as a baby with a bottle, a girl, a housewife, a salaryman, grandma and grandpa with a cane. I am not sure how much protection all these characters offer, but I guess they are cute.
Reading a 1960s literary book by last century’s most celebrated Japanese to English translator, I was struck by his use of charmingly out-dated English. Famous North American translator describes how famous Japanese Meiji writer turned his attention from geishas to “slatterns.” The setting was the start of the 20th century, and the fiction writer was making the impossible biological transition from young man to middle age.
The context made clear that the “slattern,” lacking the art of the geisha, was a barely obscured word for prostitute. What a now quaint word to denote lack of sophistication, slovenly hair and costume, and inadequate hygiene.
With this delicious new word in mind, what did I see in the JR Metro but white plastic heart-shaped high heels? Yes, the heel itself was in the shape of a valentine’s day heart with the point serving as the base of the heel. Below is the closest approximation I could find on Google images. And, trust me, somehow the white plastic was even more slattern-ish than the lucite model.
My only question is why, even in Tokyo on a hot evening, can men not signal slattern-iciousness the way ladies can and often do? Step it up, herbivores-ladies danshi-gyaruo-otomen!
Fall folliage is particularly spectacular this week in Tokyo, including the giant yellow ginkos lining our street. It seems fall is longer and later in Japan than in the US. Yesterday, the husband, sister-in-law Y and I went to Rikugien park to see the special evening “light-up” event.
The Japanese maples were amazing in bright yellow and deep red– some trees pruned to be flat planes made up of hundreds of leaves, others lining a reflecting pond and layered along a small stream. Also lit up were bamboo and gorgeous pine trees.
Alas, we didn’t see Kitaoji Kinya this time.