Drama on the Streets of Tokyo

Literally, television dramas spilling out onto the streets of Tokyo. On my commute home a few nights ago my usual route was partially blocked by a film crew and their equipment as they filmed at a nearby residence. As the street was quite narrow assistant directors were busy herding bicycles onto the sidewalk and around the scene. I had my usual speed on, so whipped around the waiting mama-chari, hopped onto the sidewalk, sped past the crew who began frantically calling out "Stairs! Its dangerous, slow down. Stairs! Stairs!" After launching myself off the stairs and speeding off into the night I actually received a round of applause.

There is no fun to be had in following directions.

The following morning I was on a wide busy road close to my office and noticed a plainly dressed fellow with a bright orange baton had stopped a motorcycle and was in the process of waving down another. He wasn't a policeman, didn't have the uniform of the usual road worker who directs traffic, and was only stopping motorcycles. Odd, I thought as I cycled by.

A few hundred meters down the road a film crew had set up outside a cafe and were busy shooting a scene. A few hundred meters beyond that I see yet another orange baton waving staff member flagging down motorcycles and asking them to wait, which they all did obediently.

Obviously the films producers didn't want the scene to be ruined by noisy motorcycles tearing through the background so they had sent staff, armed with orange batons used to direct traffic, out to wrangle the motorcyclists.

What amazed me is that the motorcyclists all stopped and waited after being confronted by a person with no authority over traffic other than the possession of an orange baton. They all simply complied with his wishes and fell into line. In any other country the motorcyclists would simply speed on by, possibly after hurling a mouthful of abuse at the powerless baton waving buffoon.

There is no fun to be had in following directions.

Its amazing what one can accomplish in Japan with just the hint of authority. With these kinds of bugs in the Japanese hardware there is no limit to the social engineering possibilities, it frightening.


Cycle Messenger World Championships come to Tokyo

The Cycle Messenger World Championships originated in Berlin in 1993 and is hosted in a different city each year. This year the 17th annual event will be hosted by members in Tokyo.

During the event, held from the 19th to the 23rd of September, some 400 bicycle messengers from around the world will visit Tokyo to participate in a wide range of planned events. The main race, sprints, and track stand competitions etc. will be held in Odaiba and a day of track racing will be held at the Keiokaku Keirin track. A number of social events including the opening party and the Art Rush exhibition will be held in Shibuya.

While the competitors are mostly messengers, the events and competitions are open to anyone interested in competing.

More information can be found at the CMWC 2009 homepage.