Wednesday, August 09, 2006

The Write Stuff

Tuesdays are made better by the Japanese receptionist. Eiko is lovely. Very chatty and smiley and speaks good English.

She’s not drop dead gorgeous or anything but there is something about the way she carries herself which appeals. Japanese girls seem to come with a kind of in-built delicateness or precision, and just watching Eiko write is very absorbing.

When I write I press too hard and my spidery letters scratch their way illegibly across the page. But with Eiko, and also with my friend Eli, each movement of the pen contains a delicate flicking motion leaving a series of fine but accurate strokes on the page - all of equal thickness but all as thin as a human hair.

Apparently, the Japanese alphabets (all three of them) are so unwieldy that deadly accurate handwriting is drilled into children from a young age and indeed precision and accuracy are very much hallmarks of Japanese society: Their trains run to the second, their signage is all very clear and their shopworkers appear to have a very strict consumer-facing code of behaviour.

But you can also see this in the way they move. Objects are never plonked down, dropped, slammed, shunted or forced. They are smoothly placed, gently slid or softly positioned. It’s like everything is a Faberge egg.

And I was thinking all this as I was watching Eiko draw me a little map. She was attempting to locate Starbucks in Ikebukuro after I had asked her if she knew of any wireless internet hotspots in Tokyo.

Like a trooper, she had ploughed through a series of impeccably arranged plastic folders until she had found a relevant map, whereupon she had photocopied it, neatly trimmed it down with a pair of scissors and then set upon scoring lines onto it with laser-like exactness. It was like watching Tony Hart - if Tony Hart made short, breathy “ah!” noises of contentment between each stroke.

Later, I scrawled what Japanese I knew on to a piece paper whilst she laughed and drew it again properly.

Very nice.

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