Issue Index

  Mini Features
  Cultural Features
  Life in Japan
  Big in Japan
  Rant & Rave
  Cars & Bikes
  Health & Beauty
  Money Talks
  Tokyo Tech
Web Watch
  Food & Drink
  Restaurant Reviews
  Bar Reviews
Word of Mouth
  Travel Features
  Japan Travel
  International Travel
  Tokyo Talk
  In Store
  Japan Beat
  CD Reviews
  In Person
Little old ladies

Illustration by Marie 

OK, I know what I'm talking about? I mean, I've played rugby for years, I've coached it for years, too. I know good tackling technique and good body position when I see it.

And so I stand in awe of some of the little old ladies who muscle their way into and out of crowded trains. Not only is their timing impeccable, they show all the brutality and ruthlessness you'd hope for in a test-match prop. They may be diminutive, they may not possess the sheer bulk of an international rugby player - but they could teach the All Black forwards a thing or two about body position when entering a ruck. They can get you right under the ribs, from the most unexpected angles, sending you reeling, wondering what hit you. They can headbutt you in the elbow, elbow you in the knees. They can slip from behind you, through the door and away in the time it takes you to lift a foot to step through the door. They move with such speed, skill and deadly aggression that it's a wonder the CIA hasn't recruited all of them to be covert assassins. Perhaps they have.

And it's not just on trains. In a throng of people visiting a shrine for a recent festival, who were bumping off the citizenry right and left? You guessed it - little old lades (LOL's). Impassively, with only the slightest wrinkling of the brow to belie the concentration needed to inflict the most accidental injury, they would - "bulldoze" is too large and clumsy a word - incise their way like little scalpels through the crowd. And with their lethally hard shoes, no toes were safe.

Even when visiting a museum exhibition, with lots of people milling around the main exhibits, I was agog as the throng of LOL's elbowed me aside and kicked my heels and calves. It was amazing. With great aplomb, and completely ignoring the existence of anyone else, the LOL's went blithely along, colliding with one another with the regularity and lack of emotion of fairground dodgems. It was like human pinball, ancient bodies careening off each other in all directions. Of course, this substantially increased the likelihood of being battered.

The difference, in this instance, from being ribbed by a LOL stepping off a train, was that there were dozens of them, all moving in different directions. Walking the length of a single museum room was like doing Niagara in a barrel - but without the protection of the barrel. A nudge here, a knee there, a cranium to the funny bone. NO matter how much I dodged and hopped, sidestepped and swerved, I couldn't avoid continual impact. I reached the far end of the room, bruised and disoriented, thinking seriously of abandoning the whole exhibition and going to find an emergency ward somewhere.

What's my point? Well, I figure, with Japan's aging population, I read recently that 25 percent of the populace will be over 65 in a few years' time, that such talent should be harnessed in some way. I challenge anyone out there in readerland to come up with a scheme in which such completely disinterested violence can be put to good use.

Many thanks to Martin Jones for this Rant.

Metropolis Online
381: The Crisp Linen Suit Syndrome
Unbearable heat and crisp linen suits
380: Smile
Smile when you see another foreigner
379: What sign are you?
When signs start to complicate life
378: Off with the gloves
Battle of the readers
377: Stop before you shop
Stores that scare away gaijin
376: Home sweet home
Modern housing in Japan?
375: Nihonjinron
Theories of Japaneseness and insecurity
374: Plastic bags
Do we really need them for everything?
373: Doctor knows best?
A scary visit to a Japanese hospital
372: Don't forget the finger wagger
So you've never complained about Japan?
371: A-choob tale
The Sneezing Salaryman
370: The gaijin language snob
Dare to cross his path
369: Nihongo
One man's struggle...
368: Making sense of Roppongi
Why do I keep going back?
367: Hateus Japanus Expatricus
Great bar bores of the world
366: Plants and animals
Darwin's turning in his grave
365: No more groping - for now
Women only train cars
364: Man's best friend
Pets have it rougher
363: In praise of Tokyo taxi drivers
A good ride all around
362: The Big Boot Brigade
Masters of the oversized-shoe
361: The case of the missing garbage cans
Where art thou o garbage can?
360: Ramen for the soul
Japanese chicken soup
359: Revenge of the nerds Part II
Geeky guys with hot girls
358: Little old ladies
Grandmas packing a punch
357: Starbucks sanctuary
Stop the Starbucks insanity
356: Pet name problem
My sweet little... carrot?
355: Unclean Jeans
Jeans McNasty
354: My chosen profession
Lindsay Nelson's the name, English teaching's the game
352/3: Merry Christmas... sort of
Merry and not-so-Merry Christmas in Japan
351: Last temptation of rice crackers
Breaking big bills the hard way
350: Revenge of the nerds
Gaijin girls are just jealous

ISSUES 300-349
ISSUES 250-299
ISSUES 233-249