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The Big Shoe Brigade

Illustration by Marco Mancini

Okay, so there have been a few earthquakes recently in and around the islands off Tokyo. I even felt the one recently in the middle of the night. My television started to move before my eyes. I thought that my apartment was being possessed by a poltergeist. But a strange thing happened the other day. For no reason whatsoever--there was no force beneath my feet that I could feel--a girl walking in front of me fell to the floor! Was it some new, strange sort of tremor that you could not feel but was capable of throwing you off your feet? No, of course not. The girl was simply another cadet in the Big Shoe Brigade.

She was obviously a novice at wearing the Big Girls shoes and had yet to master even the most rudimentary of obstacles confronted by this group of "fashion failures" - walking in a straight line. Had she headed to Takeshita dori, where the Big Shoe troops shuffle along at a snail's pace, lesson number one would have surely been behind her. Furthermore, she had not learned the most basic of rules that most panda girls learn when indoctrinated into the society of beauty school drop-outs: Always have another cadet to hold on to when going out.

I learned of this unspoken law in Matsudo. Two girls, who were obviously professionals in the art of walking like clowns at a circus on their stilts, tackled the most complex obstacle that ganguro (Amuro Namie look-alikes) face: The dreaded stairs. Obviously high in the pecking order of Sad Sandys, clutching each other they managed to clear the obstacle in a matter of minutes. Teetering to and fro, painstakingly lowering each foot down to the next step while trying not to topple over in the process, they made their way down.

Yes I have to admit it. I was in awe of them. For thousands of years mankind has evolved from knuckle-dragging monkeys to upright, walking human beings. Perhaps, right here in Tokyo, I am witnessing the next step in the evolution of man, or should I say womankind. Rather than being satisfied with simply strolling along, these girls have lifted themselves to a higher plane, balancing on their atsuzoku sandoru (platform shoes). Sugoi ne!

Many thanks to Peter Cook for this Rave.

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