As we get on our way, my driver asks “Do you mind if I talk to you? and I smile to myself thinking how I was hoping to have a conversation with a cab driver during my 3 night trip to Tokyo.
He asks where I’m from and then tells me that he once visited London just for one day while en-route to Munich. As far as I can gather he didn’t get much further than Heathrow. I ask what he was doing in Munich and it turns out he used to import luxury European cars into Japan – every year there was a big conference and trade fair in Munich, so it was his job to come over. He doesn’t speak any German though, only English which he practices whenever he can.
His next question flumoxes me “what do you think of Japan’s economy and politics?”. I don’t feel even remotely qualified to answer, so instead I tell him how excited I am to be in Tokyo – that it’s a city that I think of as being deeply cool, and how I’ve found it much less of a culture shock than I was expecting. He asks what I think of Japanese food and I’m on much more comfortable ground, enthusing about sushi, miso, yaki soba and don. After each food I mention he nods in encouragement and repeats the food back to me and this assurges my sense of guilt over being economically and politically ignorant.
The conversation turns to the approaching typhoon – which finally hit on my last night in Tokyo, and was the main topic of conversation with everyone I met – he tells me the latest reports and that in his view it shouldn’t cause a problem with my flight home.
Somehow we jump from this to his hobbies and interests. He’s a city dweller with a love of the grea outdoors he likes to sail, camp and do clay pigeon shooting in his spare time. I can’t help but giggle, it seems so incongruous sat in the back of a cab in the middle of Tokyo. I ask whether he’s a good shot and he turns rather coy, instead of answering he demonstrates his technique “bang, bang!”