In which we have a wakeful week in Japan after a man asleep in his bed has a collision with a ship...
We interrupt this report before it even starts to issue an urgent warning to all readers who live in Japan or who may be planning to visit it in the near future. DO NOT GO TO SLEEP.
Health experts have determined that dozing off anywhere in that country could be extremely detrimental to your health, and may even be fatal.
It all started last night, when a man fast sleep in his bed at home in Hiroshima was in collision with a ship.
Haruo Abe, 76, heard a loud noise and woke up to discover that he and a large cargo vessel had had a serious altercation in the night. This is not a joke.
More details emerging from Japanese media about the ship-bed collision. It has been ascertained that the captain of a cargo transporter had fallen asleep at the wheel, allowing his vessel to run aground and pay courtesy calls on several homes, most of which were turned to matchwood by the visit.
Doctors said Haruo Abe would recover from his collision with a ship, having suffered only a dislocated shoulderand a not inconsiderable degree of surprise.
The news story has sent shockwaves down the spines of people in coastal areas throughout Japan.
But people inland, who could not afford homes with sea views, feel smug.
The fools. The Japanese press today revealed the story of Tsuyoshi Nakamura of Hyogo, who lives miles from the sea.
Last night, Nakamura decided to leave the door open while he slept, because he thought a breeze blowing through the house would make it more comfortable. A large black bear from the woods nearby agreed with him. It ambled in, settled down and went to sleep.
After Nakamura realized he was sleeping with a bear, he got up, and phoned some hunters. They came to the house and decided to wait until the bear woke up naturally. After four hours, it yawned and opened its eyes. At which point they shot it with tranquillizers to put it back to sleep, and took it away.
Basically, you should NEVER sleep in Japan.
Had a long chat with Kumiko, one of my Japanese sources, on the phone.
After the conversation, I would also advise people not to sleep on Japanese transport. People who have read my scribblings for a long time have seen regular reports of dozy people leaving odd things on buses and trains not just umbrellas, but prosthetic limbs, the ashes of their deceased parents, yakuza-detached fingers, that sort of thing.
Well, its getting worse. There has been a rash of incidents in which sleepy Japanese commuters have left themselves on buses. Kumiko has been collecting them.
Last month, a male passenger in his 60s who dozed off in a Tokyo bus woke up to find himself in a sealed vehicle in a bus garage. He was stuck there all night. Officials said it was the third such incident recently, and have instructed all bus drivers to remove all unclaimed articlessomnanbulant humans and otherwisefrom their buses before locking them up (the vehicles, not the people).
An anti-smoking activist tells me on the phone he is outraged to hear that Japanese tobacco firms have just given away millions of free cigarettes to elderly people in nursing homes. How can this be allowed? he fumes.
I tell him that the practice has been going on every autumn for more than 30 years.Tobacco firms arent ostracized in Japan as they are in other modern societies, I explain.
I find a statement from Japan Tobacco spokesman Seiichi Hayashida, saying that the free smokes are distributed on Respect for the Aged day every year as "a way for us to make a contribution to society.
Not sure how this is a contribution to society. Unless he means that by killing off old folk, they make more room for everyone else.
Kumiko calls to say that it is not even safe to sleep in ones own vehicle in Japan. She pointed me to a report in one of the morning newspapers as evidence.
Tatsuro Onishi, aged 22, of Matsuyama, went to sleep in his car last night, according to an article in this mornings paper. It seemed unthreatening enough. No freighters. No bears. No bus drivers waiting to seal him in.
But he was woken by a high-pitched whining, buzzing noise: there was a mosquito in the car. He attacked it with a mozzie spray, liberally spraying the air inside and outside the vehicle. He failed to catch it, and decided to relax with a cigarette instead.
As soon as he lit a flame---wooosh!the pesticide-filled air burst into flame. The resulting fireball damaged the car and gutted Tatsuros family home, causing the young man a great deal of embarrassment, although no physical harm. However, there was some good news. The mosquito that had been annoying him was killed, the Japanese news wires reported.
If you live in Japan and you really, really, must go to sleep, just remember one thing: you can buy a ships foghorn for US$200 on ebay.