Thursday, October 27, 2005

Perverts at Train Stations

I lived on Shikoku (the smallest of Japan's four main islands) for three months, in a town called Niihama. For the first month the district was short-staffed, so we had to alternate covering a school in Toyo. I had to do this a couple times, the most noteworthy on my first day of teaching.

The teaching itself wasn't that rough, or so low on the scale of horror stories I have about my former job that it doesn't register after two years.

The trains on Shikoku ran about once an hour. So when I was in Toyo, I always had time to pass before the train home. On my first day I was really nervous about missing the train, so I left the school with plenty of time. (I think I had like 20-30 minutes to wait.)

I was standing out on the platform, and there was only one other person around. It was a middle-aged Japanese man. I was walking towards the end of the platform, when I heard someone muttering in Japanese behind me. Were they talking to me? Were they talking to themself?

I turned around to see the man with his hand by his pants, muttering away. After a moment of going "what is this guy's problem" and debating whether or not I should tell him I didn't speak Japanese, I realized that he was waving his penis at me.

After getting over the shock, I walked past him (very huffy) and gave him a dirty look while adding "urusai" ('noisy,' 'annoying,' sometimes translated as 'shut up.' ) Then I got on the train and when I got back to Niihama, I called my friend to tell her what had happened.

She, like many people I know, had heard the story of the foreigner being flashed at the train station, but no one knew of anyone that it had personally happened to. (It was like an urban legend.) What an honor to get to be the person who says "oh no, it really does happen."

Oh, and a couple months later, at the same train station another foreign teacher was flashed by a middle-aged man. The teacher and I compared descriptions, and we believe it was the same man. As creepy as that is, it's even creepier when you consider the second teacher who got flashed was a guy.

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