An extract from Shig
Kindle US link - https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07CSVM1MD
Kindle Japan link - https://www.amazon.co.jp/dp/B07CSVM1MD
In the third week of August, with a heavy heart and a sore head from the round of farewell parties, Shig climbed aboard a New York Central train bound for Chicago. From there, the Great Northern carried him across the continent to Seattle, where he embarked for Yokohama on the packet ship Hie-maru.
The crossing was smooth. He passed his days napping in a deck chair under the Pacific sun and his nights in the bar or gambling at the card tables, where he eventually left most of what little money he was returning to Japan with.
From Yokohama he took the Kamome express through Numazu and Shizuoka and detrained at Tokyo station, into a milling throng that carried him along the station’s underground passages and deposited him on the street in front of the Marunouchi building, with the shadows of the Imperial Palace gateway beyond.
The air was humid, windless, and alive with a screeching chorus of cicadas from the trees inside the palace grounds.
On the way to the taxi rank, he passed a line of veterans from the China front displaying their wounds and mutilations. Battered tin mugs for donations stood on the sidewalk in front of each soldier, and a young officer, ceremonial sword jangling at his side, urged the passersby to give generously.
A banner strung across the wall behind him proclaimed that certain members of the current cabinet were in league with Freemasons.
A taxi dropped him at the Wakamatsu Hotel in Kanda, a ten-minute drive from Tokyo station. Near the hotel’s revolving doors, another stern young soldier was standing on a wooden crate haranguing a sparse crowd in a quivering voice, “…The day has come when our swords shall gleam with the blood of purification. The next war will be a holy war aimed at the construction of a world order based on the Imperial Way, and will take the form of a conflict between Japan and the British-American bloc. Thus, the severing of relations with these countries is an urgent requirement of national policy. However, the nation’s leaders persist in obstructing these measures so as to maintain a status quo profitable to themselves…”
The soldier’s comrade—a man on crutches—thrust a leaflet at Shig as he maneuvered his way toward the doors. The lobby was deserted and hot. At the front desk, the elderly manager bowed.
“Good evening, sir.”
“My name is Yuasa. You have a reservation for me. A single room, for three nights.”
“Very good, sir.”
He raised his eyebrows at the leaflet in Shig’s hand.
“Will you want to be holding on to that? If not, you can drop it in here.” He indicated a box on the front desk. “We’re trying to keep the lobby litter-free.”
The soldier’s shrill voice penetrated through the lobby, making the manager raise his eyebrows.
“They have been out there for hours, rather intimidating some of our guests, I’m afraid.”
“Why don’t you ask them to move on?”
“Why don’t you?”
The old man smiled to show the retort was meant in good humor.
“I believe you’re returning from the United States, Mr. Yuasa?”