It Could Happen Only in Japan
By Watch Tower missionaries in Japan
A GROUP of homeward-bound conventioners settled down for a quiet night’s journey from Sendai to Tokyo. It had been a delightful assembly, and everyone was bubbling over with good spirits. So much so that fellow passengers inquired the why and wherefore, and one of these, at ten minutes to midnight on the last day of the Watchtower subscription campaign, subscribed for the Japanese Watchtower.
Then it happened! The sleepy carriage was awakened by the sudden entry of some twenty unkempt yokels, each having loaded on his or her back a bundle as large as a man. The loads were dumped along the passageway, untied, and divided into many smaller packages. Parcels in colorful disguises were planted along the luggage rack, among the seats, wherever there was a spare corner. Larger paper sacks were roughly shoved under the seats, between the seats, till there was scarcely a corner to put one’s legs. The marketeers of “black” rice, uncouth creatures of Japan’s underworld, had chosen our car, of all cars, for their overnight jaunt to Tokyo!
A shudder goes through our group. These strange men and women are taking out knives! As we look through the hazy stench of their tobacco smoke, we note that every one of them is holding a knife, wrapped in a handkerchief for disguise, but with the point clearly protruding. Will we all be knifed? We are nearing a station. The black marketeers, hands nervously twitching, jump quickly to their feet, and pull down all the blinds, screening the interior from the outside. As the train lurches to a standstill, louts at each end of the carriage nail heavy boards across the doors. Their watchman shouts, “Police! Inspection!” and pandemonium breaks loose.
A burly constable appears at one of the doors. It takes him half a minute to smash the glass in, but then he is too fat to force his way through. A plain-clothes man finally forces his way in, and wrenches the door open. Precious seconds have been lost! But our attention focuses on the black marketeers. Knives are flying in all directions, and so is rice! Torrents of rice! Rice to left of us, rice to right of us, rice seething into our shoes. As we clamber up onto our seats, the carriage floor becomes blanketed inches deep with a sea of glistening white rice. By the time a furious police force can reach the scene, only one large packet remains intact to be confiscated. No use making arrests. They cannot prove who put the rice there. The police shovel what grain they can through a window onto the platform, but the great sea of rice remains when the train whistle blows, signaling the police exit through a haze of rice dust.
Then more feverish activity! The black marketeers swarm round and under the seats. New paper sacks, ropes and improvised shovels are produced, and within ten minutes the floor is as clean as a whistle again. The camouflaged parcels are recovered from the luggage racks, the great bundles of rice are made up again. As we reach suburban Tokyo, the army of black marketeers stagger out under their loads, wreathed with a smile of victory, and bowing “We made a frightful nuisance of ourselves” to fellow passengers. We reply, “Don’t mention it!” An exciting night’s entertainment, and all for free!