Reviewing my notes on the creation of a popular image for the Emperor Meiji in 1880s Japan, I see that nudity and urinating in public were banned at that time to help in the creation of the image of a ‘Modern Nation’.

This reminded me of the first time I went to Otaru, a port on the Western coast of Hokkaido, Japan’s most northerly (main) island. Walking through the peaceful streets at 5am having just disembarked following a long ferry crossing from somewhere else that wasn’t Otaru, I forget where, my attention was caught by a man weeing in the street ahead of me.

I wasn’t particularly fussed by this. I mean, it was 5am, and there was no-one else around. Perfectly understandable behaviour. But that in turn did remind me of a public urinal incident that had caught me off-guard some years previously.

I was in the Lancashire town of Preston (it must have been an accident, I can’t think of any other reason why i should have been in such a place). I decided to buy a newspaper, and so spotting a newspaper vendor on the other side of the street, crossed the road. He was your average seller – man in his 50’s behind a little stand that was piled high with figures on the previous day’s local muggings. Anyway, as I appraoached his little stand, I noticed a steaming trickle emerging from beneath it, running across the pavement onto the road.

Hmm, nice.

I decided to go to WHSmiths at that point.

“Preston Town, Preston Town, I don’t know why you get me down” go the lyrics to one of my brother’s compositions.

Anyway, back to the Meiji Emperor…

(now you see, if I could link every fact uncovered by my Issues in Modern Japanese History module to a story like that, I’d have no problem recalling stuff in tomorrow’s exam.) (mind you, I didn’t run out of things to say this morning. managed 17 sides of A4 in three hours.)(all waffle mind you.)(and tip-ex.)(ok, ok, I’ll get back to my revision now.)(oh, I forgot, I was going to make a cup of tea about an hour ago…)