An Afternoon of Birds, Bugs and Beheadings

I walk down the store lined Harumi Dori, unbrella and novel in hand. The Wako department store display window decadant in its artistry. The Sony Building public showroom glistening from within with the newest gagetry. But glitz and glamour don’t attract me today and I keep walking.

There is a park at the end of the street accessed only by a little path surrounded by foliage made all the more green by the sprinkling of rain. I notice most benches are taken by elderly Japanese men. Some sitting alone. Some paired and conversing quietly. Others speaking loudly but gesticulating gently. The pair sitting closest to me talk sporadically but mostly they contemplate the pigeons scratching and pecking the ground near them. One of men has a handful of crumbs and during the silences in conversation, throws feed to the expectant birds.

I sit on my park bench at an end that hasn’t gotten completely soaked by the sprinkling of rain. I prop my umbrella in such a way that I can comfortably read my novel without getting the pages wet. My novel of choice today is “The Wind up Bird Chronicle” by Haruki Murakami given to me by my friend Christopher.

I read for only a few minutes when the surrealism of the novel is lost on me and I begin to instead consider the beauty of the realism of this particular moment. I am in a far off land. I am sitting in a beautiful park where pigeons are gently fed, koi swim in the ponds, and people stroll contemplatively along the paths, mindless of the rain. I notice how perfect everything seems to be at this particular minute in my life.

I then spy a cat crouched under the park bench where the two old men nearest me sit. The scruffy tabby is eyeing the gluttoneous pigeon that is totally unaware of being watched. Suddenly I realize that the old men has noticed the cat under him and is purposefully dropping his crumbs closer and closer to where the cat lies in wait. The pigeon, absorbed with the taste and availability of food, is oblivious to any imminent danger.

A bicycle bell distracts the cat and frightens the birds away leaving the old man to find a new of execution of sorts or to concentrate and contribute more to the the converstation with his companion.

I try again to concentrate on my book. I’m at a part where there is torture during a time of war. I try to finish the chapter but I don’t get very far. There is a distinct whirring noise that varies in volume. It seems to be coming from every direction, from every tree. At times it is deafening. Before, I had noticed the sound in the background of my day but now it is there, in front of me, inhibiting me from reading. I think they are cicadas. They have to be cicadas. It is loud, but it is not disturbing. The sound seems to add another sensory layer to my day.

The old men with the crumbs have gotten up from their bench and are walking in my direction. I look at them and smile. One nods and smiles in my direction. The tabby follows behind, rubbing against my leg as he passes, then trots quickly to catch up to the two men.

Again I open my book.

My eyes fall on the following passage:

“The summer sky was blue, and from the surrounding trees the screams of cicadas rained down like a sudden shower.”

And everything is as it should be.



Info on Hibiya Park can be found at

Look for “The Wind Up Bird Chronicle” on


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