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Saturday, November 09, 2013

Goofing Off in Japan (Not Me This Time)

Goofing off. Don't we all need to do that once in a while? As an advocate of this type of thing, I would say, "Yes, indeedy."

Recently my daughter and I took a train ride from Nara to Wakayama. It took a while, a bit over two hours. We saw people board and get off all along the way, the usual train traffic. After a while, I began to notice a group of three boys who I guessed to be middle school aged. The boy in the red shirt shot past us, snagged a blue backpack from the overhead rung, slipped out the doors, and breathlessly handed the bag to a high school girl (her friends broke into giggles) before jumping back on the train. Then he lightly deposited himself on a seat near the end of our nearly deserted train car.

Goofing Off in Japan

Over the course of our journey the boy in the red shirt engaged in several activities, once or repeatedly. He opened and closed his umbrella in succession, making a snap and a whoosh-whoosh sound; he grabbed the commuter rings, hung on and then swung himself upside down; drank a beverage and let the bottle roll on the floor; stretched out and laid down on the train seat; streaked off the train at a brief stop to buy cup of noodles; ate said noodles and left the empty carton on the floor; then, he took off one shoe and one sock, smelled the sock, and rolled up one pants leg to his knee.

We were trying not to laugh in an obvious way, but we couldn't help it - here was a kid being a kid, whether he was Japanese or not. We imagined his mom being really angry if she knew what he was doing. But what really made us laugh the harder is that a salary man was sitting just a few feet away from the red shirt boy, and he behaved as if the boy did not exist.

Goofing Off in Japan on a train

All three boys had noticed us, too, and Amanda could hear them talking in Japanese. At the end of the line, they approached us and spoke English: "Why have you come to Wakayama?" Amanda responded, "To see the castle." But for both of us, the journey had been quite amusing while we surreptitiously watched this good-natured fun (the red shirt boy had not left his trash) and it had done my heart good.

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