10.14.2001 (Sunday), 08:48 PM

Takeda-san

Calm, cool, collecting dust...

My buddy Takeda-san gave me some bad news about three months ago. He was leaving his job at the Kinokuniya CD store to go back to Japan. He didn't think his boss would let him return and so we would probably not see each other again. You see, Kouhei (Takeda-san's given name), was my connection. My pusher. My man (as in "waiting for my..."). He dealt...Japanese pop CDs.

Kinokuniya is a huge bookstore in Japan. They have branches in major cities in the US but the selection and stores a minuscule compared to the ones in Japan. Still, if you need books or other Japanese publications, it's really the place to go.

Fortunately (and unfortunately), Kinokuniya in the US seems to be mostly an oasis for Japanese workers and ex-pats living here. One can get a weekly dose of Fridays, Baseball Magazine Sha or even ASCII Computer magazine. Plus manga, books, calendars and electronic dictionary/translators. For us hakujin (Japanese slang for "white person", a not-so-nice term, actually...), Kinokuniya can be a nightmare. If you speak Japanese, then you're ok but my Japanese sucks even though I have been studying off and on for over 20 years. Still, I can haltingly speak and hand-gesture my way to an order.

However, when it comes to musical knowledge in their CD store almost none of Kinokuniya' staff know anything. I mean, there's not even a flicker of common sense when it comes to this. Except for Takeda-san.

He saw me browsing and muttering to myself (sound out kanji characters, no doubt) and asked me what groups I liked. I was floored. We talked for 20 minutes straight and he had a moderate crowd of other customers. I went back time and again and he was there and the same scene repeated. Eventually, he would call me to let me know that the next m-flo or Yaida Hitomi or Rappagariya was available to order or had actually come in. So I was really bummed the day he said he was leaving.

Today, while browsing the little Japanese television video store right next to the CD shop, I heard someone call out my name. I squinted across the store and saw Takeda-san striding toward me. "Bikkuri!" (um, that's 'what a surprise' in Japanese), I said as he reached out his hand to shake. I was speechless. He was back from Japan (which he said was great), he was held up for a week due to the September 11th tragedy and his boss hired him back. Well, not full-time but two days of the week. One of those days is Sunday. And I'm at Kinokuniya nearly every Sunday...yahoo!

This weekend has been the best two days I have had in several months. Horse racing and gumbo yesterday, my friend reappears today, Jan and I got the whole weekend to ourselves and work tomorrow is not going to suck...

Posted by wjc