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Dispatches from Japan: Day 1

福岡市はくそです。 Or, in English, Fukuoka is shit.

I have no illusions. Having lived in Aichi, Gifu, and Nagano prefectures for almost two years, I have gotten used to being viewed as either an uncouth child or a mythical beast. However, one thing I can never get used to and resent immensely is being treated as an a priori criminal by the authorities. Sure, everyone gets photographed and fingerprint-scanned upon entering Japan. However, if you're a white guy and you want to feel like a nigger—not a black man, mind you, a nigger—you should definitely visit "Friendly Fukuoka."

The short of it is that I was taken to a room where two assholes ripped everything out of my carefully packed bags and tried their desperate best to find something to pin on me. An empty painkiller bottle—Are you on drugs?—Your place of birth is Russia—Why don't you use a Russian passport? The most humiliating moment came when one of the assholes accused me of importing pornography, when he saw that I had a thin book of e. e. cummings erotic poetry. It took a lot of explaining—some in English, some in Japanese bent by my trepidation—but they finally let me go after disheveling me nicely. Before I left, I asked one of the assholes what it is about my face that he found so suspicious. He apologised and said he was only doing his job. Sieg heil, asshole.

The second item on my shit-list is that idiot at Expedia who booked my hostel room for November 22 instead of December 22, so, of course, there was no room waiting for me, and, to add insult to injury, the hostel wouldn't give me my $30 back. (I swear, I will rip out the spleen of that Expedia agent when I get back to the Occident.) This wouldnt be so problematic if the entire fucking city weren't booked.

After spending about $50 on taxis (and visiting four hotels), I finally found a capsule hotel that put me up for about $50. It was actually quite nice (and I got to use a public shower with lots of nude Japanese guys—as per usual, there was not a single woman in the whole hotel), but I found it hard to enjoy myself because of the fucked-up evening I have had. Compared to the capsule hotel I'd stayed in in Tokyo, this one was extremely quiet and almost luxurious. I even had a minimal number of nightmares.

When I woke up, I felt a little refreshed, and a lot more composed. I caught a cab to the domestic terminal where I am writing this now. The announcement tones are the first four notes from the refrain of the "Horst Wessel Lied" (no joke).

I assure you that my previous Japanese experiences were radically different, but I guess I can't lie myself about the undercurrent of xenophobia and racism that permeates the more "local" areas of this country, as the Japanese call them.