Yes, ’tis true. I spent two and half hours at the police station last night. I will tell the story from beginning to end as best as I can. What a totally bizarre evening!

Last night after helping a friend babysit her five children I arrived to the subway station near my apartment around 9-ish. Much to my surprise, a plainclothes police officer approached me as I was unlocking my bike and said, “Is this your bike?” I said yes, and then he responded by saying, “Well, you’re not Japanese are you?” I almost laughed but refrained from doing so! The cop then asked me to move a few feet away from the bike rack and asked me a bunch of questions about the bike. Actually, that bike, which I really, really liked, was found by a friend of mine a month ago. After passing by it for several weeks, he assumed it was an abandoned and kindly took it home, fixed it up, and gave it to me since my old bike had just broken and I was planning to buy a new one. So, apparantly bikes in Japan have a registration number on each bike under the handlebar. Turns out my bike was a stolen bike and I was now in big trouble!

Thank God I can speak Japanese! It made a very bizarre ordeal almost comical, that’s for sure! So, after being informed that my bike was stolen property and being questioned at length, they told me they were taking the bike away and I had to go to the POLICE STATION for questioning!!!! (It gets better.) So two cops drove me to the police station and I had to be sent to a room and was interviewed and questioned at length about how I got that bike. Unfortunately, I had to tell them about my friend who found the bike and they asked for his phone number and information. They told me he was going to have to come to the police station immediately. They were very much so treating this like a serious crime! So, after tons of questioning, I was asked to write a page long statement about all the details pertaining to this “crime.” I will NEVER FORGET those two cops nervously hovering over me as I wrote in Japanese…every time I made a mistake they made me cross out my mistake and write it over neatly. It was like a Japanese lesson on steroids as I wrote the whole page in Japanese and they hovered right over my shoulder…SO FUNNY!!!!! They even complimented me on my Japanese and were very, very surprised that I could speak Japanese. The cops were actually kind of nice. They believed my story and never seemed to doubt I was lying to them. Actually, they warned me in the beginning that if I were lying I’d be in BIG trouble!

After all that, the cop showed me an ink pad. He made me put my thumb on the black stamp pad and put my thumbprint on every single mistake I had made in my written statement. So picture a piece of paper with about a dozen little thumbprints on it…written in Japanese by a foreigner!!!!

After that part, there was more paperwork. They were so meticulous in making sure every jot of that police record was filled out perfectly. The cop made small talk with me at that point, asking me about my church, my missionary work, etc.  Here’s the funniest part:  somewhere around this time the cops started whispering in each other’s ears, and then they asked me to empty my purse and asked if I had ANY KNIVES ON ME!!! I am not kidding! I started to empty my purse and midway through they realized I was probably “safe” and didn’t ask to see all the contents of my purse. So finally, TWO cops drove me to my house and bid me a good night. All in all the whole thing was mostly comical but also REALLY creepy. Being in a police station alone is never a fun thing. I tried to take in stride, and after all, I got a free two+ hour Japanese lesson with some policemen.

Most unfortunately, my friend who found the bike was charged with a crime, fingerprinted, photographed with a mug shot, scolded, and asked to apolgize for his “crime.” He refused to apologize to them (good for him). Personally, this whole situation seems ridiculously absurd. I think it is absurd because as an American, I think that cops in the U.S. tend to deal with real crime. On the other hand, here in Japan bike theft is a big deal. However, what can I say about  cops that spend 3+ hours on a  bike theft case? I mean, don’t they have anything else to do?

Frankly, I think the bike owner should thank my friend. He was kind enough to fix the bike up for that person. I also spent money on that bike to get the chain fixed last week. Instead, my friend gets treated like a criminal and has this on his record! Absurdity! Hey, I am sure absurd things like this must happen to foreigners living in the U.S. so I ought not complain too much.

Well, besides that excitement I had fun in Tokyo, lots of fun! I was able to relax a lot even though I was in crazy Tokyo. I like visiting there – it’s like New York in lots of ways. Fun to visit, but living there…not exactly ideal.

Here are some photos from the last week!

Here is Japan there are game centers with these photo booths and you can take photos like these:

with chiemi group_photo

purikura 1

Here’s a photo of us in the booth gettting ready to take the photos!

purikura 2

It’s so fun to decorate the photos! You get a few minutes to decorate the photos the way you want. The photos come out like little stickers. I put all my photo booth photos in an album or stick them on my cell phone.

Trip to Tokyo Golden Week 003

Monday I enjoyed a wonderful dinner with friends at Tokyo station.

Trip to Tokyo Golden Week 004

We had an incredible, giant tuna fish cut – I joked that it was just like the Flinstones!!

Trip to Tokyo Golden Week 007

Here’s the “after” photo of the tuna. Sorry if it grosses you out. Much to our surprise, every time we thought we were finished the tuna, we kept finding more crevices filled with yummy tuna meat. I made everyone laugh when I said, ‘It’s like finding hidden treasure!” My friend Hiornobu responded by saying, “And I am Indiana Jones!”

Trip to Tokyo Golden Week 012

This guy with the ridiculous hair in front of the tongue is actually one of my favorite actors in Japan. Isn’t this silly? It’s an ad for candy.

Trip to Tokyo Golden Week 006

Two of my favorite people – Hironobu and Ayako! We met in Philadelphia a few years ago and have been friends ever since.

Trip to Tokyo Golden Week 025

Usually in Japan, there are mochi pounding ceremonies on January 1st. Yet, at the local mall near my friends’ house there was a mochi pounding ceremony! I got to pound the mochi. Fun stuff.

Trip to Tokyo Golden Week 027

Trip to Tokyo Golden Week 022

When you bring down the big sledgehammer-type thing you are supposed to yell, “yuinshou!” It’s fun, trust me.

Ayako made wonderful dinners each night. What a great cook!

Trip to Tokyo Golden Week 030

On Thursday morn, we awoke at 6am and left the house at 7am. We arrived at Ueno station around 8:20am. Ayako had to be at work by 9am. Unfortunately, there was an accident and all the trains bound for Tokyo station were stopped. With my suitcase, we were crammed in this little area of the station like sardines, waiting to the trains to leave. Finally, once the trains starting leaving for Tokyo station, they let people board the trains little by little. Here is a photo of the people who they didn’t let on the train.

Trip to Tokyo Golden Week 032

I so wanted to take tons of photos – there were shoving people in the train right before my eyes. You can’t move or breathe on the train, trust me. It is an awful experience and I feel bad that Japanese people have to go throught that every day.

Trip to Tokyo Golden Week 033

Last but not least, a photo taken at the rest stop.

Trip to Tokyo Golden Week 044