I managed to take the bike out today for a test ride. Well actually I went to get my hair cut and couldn’t be bothered walking. I had to pump the tyres up as 5 weeks in storage didn’t help – they were kind of flat. The air compressor I bought just before we left was dug out and given a test – passed with flying colours – it pumped the tyres on both bikes in no time flat. We used to have an old hand pump here that hissed every time you pushed down on it. I imagine if I were using that one I’d still be there trying to pump up the tyres.

I arrived at the barbers in record time, thanks to a good bike and next to no traffic on the road. Fiddled with the bike lock for three minutes trying to wrap it around a pole and went inside.

For the end of the year the place was packed! All 12 seats were occupied and there were 6 people waiting ahead of me. Dare I turn around and come back tomorrow when they first open? No. I sat down and waited (it’s not like I had to do anything else that afternoon) – 10 minutes later I had advanced one in the queue when this old(ish) Japanese man entered. I noticed that he spoke to the staff in fairly gruff Japanese (he wanted to know when the barbers closed – 7:30 the sign in front of him said), he was also wearing a sports tracksuit (kinda “shiny”/modern – the type you see most athletes wearing, it looked totally out of place on his, as he turned and headed back up the stairs, it all made sense – looking at his left hand I noticed that the little finger extended only up to the first joint. – The rest (from the tip to first joint and from first joint to the second joint) had been cut off. He was a member (ex-member?) of the Yakuza – explains why he spoke to the staff in the way he did. Culture everywhere you look.

— David

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