Thursday, November 25, 2010

Diwali: A Festivals of Lights Part 2: Just Desserts

Since Diwali is the festival of lights, a couple JETs provided some cheap sparklers for us to light following dinner. We had to leave the hotel, so we moved the party to a courtyard in front of the Nara Visitor Center. Most people left to do other things. About 14 of us stuck around for the sparklers. Our merry group of foreigners lit sparklers and danced around. We were having a grand ol' time until the fuzz showed up. Yes, between conducting traffic with light sabers and trolling the prefecture for a Mr. Dounut, the police took an interest in our festivities. Myself and one other JET tried to sneak away from the group, but were caught and asked to return. Damn. 2 others DID manage to sneak away. As they hobbled into the train station, I yelled (as only a true hypocrite can), "Cowards!" They got away, we didn't.

The officer escorted about 8 of us into the Koban (small police station). Upon entry, we all became incredibly retarded. We ALL pretended to know absolutely no Japanese, even the most fluent of us. It was hysterical. In these situations, it's best to play the ignorant foreigner, trust me. This afforded us a couple advantages. First, the police might grow tired of the language barrier and let us go (this is how I escaped giving a donation to my cable company). Second, we make them think we don't speak any Japanese, then listen to all the crap they say about us. Third, we appear ignorant, not malicious.

One of the officers whipped out his fancy translator and I became the impromptu leader of our band. He would show me the translator and I would pass the message on to everyone else. One hilarious example:

Police Officer:

Me: Hey guys, I think he's telling us we have no manners.

Police Officer: Hanabi, Hanabi!

Me: Ooooooh, um...fireworks are ill-mannered.

This went on for about 15 minutes. They collected our Gaijin cards, made copies, and took our phone numbers. Luckily, our prefectural adviser was with us. Prefectural Advisers are the first call a troubled JET makes. My conversation with her went like this:

(after handing the police my gaijin card)

Me: Hey Banshee, what do we do?

Banshee: BOW DEEPLY.

About 15 minutes after that, another officer walked in. The first officer totally called us Foreigners when describing the situation to him. Keep in mind, they know we are English teachers in Nara because it's written on our identification. Yet, we are still just "foreigners." Racists.

After getting debriefed on the situation from his fellow officer, the new guy laughed and said to us, "Fireworks are not illegal, but they are not permitted. blah blah blah blah..." We all bowed more times then I care to remember, left the koban, and went to the bar to have a laugh.

No JET experience is complete without a trip to the Koban.


  1. Sparklers are harmless! Also, I don't blame them for calling you foreigners, it is what you wanted when you pretended to not know or understand Japanese.

    BTW, funny joke:
    I have 12 legs, 12 arms and 8 heads. What am I?
    A Liar!!

    Good post.

  2. They still knew that we'd been in the country for a while (years for some), that we were government employees, and that we were English teachers. There's a million things to call us besides, the "foreigners."

  3. Have fun. Enjoy the Koban. The rest a good excuse to visit the Koban.