20 April 2006

Men and their Wands

Tokyo is in a constant state of construction, reconstruction or, in the case of this blog, de-construction. The urban landscape perpetually changes and evolves. Take a short stroll around any neighbourhood in Tokes and you will note buildings in various stages of erection, renovation or demolition.

Japan has a policy of maintaining low levels of unemployment, thus the establishment of an amazing service industry. What one person would be employed to do in Australia is performed by many more here, and they are paid lower wages accordingly. The number of shop attendants often outnumbers the customers, and one very quickly becomes accustomed to having many people available to attend to your every need.

Every morning on my hurried walk from the station to work, I pass a construction site halfway up the hill. Tiny men wearing hard-hats and immaculate, blue costumes - complete with reflective gear crossing their chests and circling their waists - work the site. It is like passing a Legoland display as miniature trucks and earth-movers fit into a minuscule area. Depending on what stage they're at, sometimes it's not possible to walk on the footpath. Ever helpful, orange witch hats mark the alternate route, and green rubber mats with arrows point the hapless and confused pedestrian in the right direction. In addition to the very obvious markers, a man is employed to stand and wave an orange wand to help you navigate your way through the orange witch hats and green rubber mats with arrows. Just in case you missed the blatantly obvious.

For the last four months, the same man has been waving his orange wand at me. Initially, I gave him a shy smile as I crashed through the detour. I then moved onto the GG version of the walking bow (read incline of the head as I crash past), and then our relationship progressed as I began to say g’day to him. I had obviously overstepped some boundaries and I noted the panic in his eyes, and the palpable stench of fear emanating from his pores. Ah, I don’t mean to scare the locals, it just happens.

The wand-waving man and I no longer have a good, Aussie g’day-‘owthafukareyamate-type relationship. As with many things Japan, I watched what the natives did. They ignored him, but I can’t do that - he waves that wand too well, so I am back to the shy smile. As I crash through the pedestrian barrier.


  1. I love it when they also have the automated cut-out man with wavy arms also directing the way along with the human wand about overkill!

  2. The automated cut-out man with wavy arms? That is priceless! Oh my god, if I saw that I would probably fall to the ground in tears of laughter. Hm, or perhaps I have seen it, and just thought it was a human wand waver and said g'day anyway.

    And I wonder why the locals stare at me.

  3. wands are so phallic... Freud would have a field day with a bunch of tiny men with wands.

  4. Indeed Freud would have had a field day! He probably had repressed fantasies of it himself - you know, waving his wand around in public areas.

    He would have benefited from a bit of analysis himself.