I learned a few wonderfully insightful things about the Japanese police the other day. Unfortunately for me, I learned them through experience.
Here are the lessons I learned:
1) Always carry your Alien Registration Card and/or passport.
2) Even when you are excercising.
3) YES. EVEN at 2:30 in the morning.
4) ESPECIALLY if you are riding a bike, because sometimes the police will randomly stop people who are riding bikes and check the bike's (and owner's) identification.
#5 and 6) See number 2 and 3 above.
7) Rules 1 through 6 might be even more applicable if the bike you are riding is not actually registered to your name, but rather to a girl who lived in a different apartment than you do, in a different part of the city, who has already returned to America.
8) See rule number 7, but imagine that you don't actually know anything about the person in question except their gender, the VAGUE area where they live.
8b) You can guess that their name is/was "Laurie", but you'll be wrong if you do. (It was actually "katie", as I found out later).
So, the backstory to how I learned rules number 1 though 8b is this:
My dear friend Geoff Sensei, with whom I spent a great deal of enjoyable time, happened to move into an apartment whose previous owner had taken the time to acquire a bike. The key was left on the counter, and the bike locked up outside.
Geoff proceeded to get a lot of excercise while walking by the bike every day and pondering whether he should go to the trouble of changing (ie. pumping up) the tires. He never did. But, he was nice enough to help me out when I was interested in getting myself a bike.
So, anyway, for the past six months, I have been happily riding this wonderful contraption all over my local area for both business (eg commuting) and pleasure (eg, riding like a madman along the river while wearing neon and listening to radiohead). I had heard that bikes are supposed to be registered, but when I tried to register it, the only thing I could do at the police station was point and say "registration" . A friendly chap tried to help me, but ended up trying to by me a parking pass instead. This little twenty minute mishap lead to him probably giving up on any future opportunites to help confused foreigners, and me giving up on registering the bike.
Alas, it was not a good decision on my part. I haven't followed up on the other guy either.
But I digress. As usual. Back to the whole I-got-booked-by-the-police story.
After being flagged down, I pulled over. I did my very best "I'm confused but harmless and panting heavily so please just send me on my way" face. They looked at me, but didn't take the bait. When they pointed at my bike's little yellow registration number my heart sank.
This was going to go badly. So, I took a deep breath, and tried to explain my situation in broken japanese, (with lot of gesturing).
Here's about what I said:
私は英語の先生です。 (COMPANY NAME)はあぱあと。。。give! あぱあと と ままちぇり は。。。give! before 先生 は アメリカ人。。。私のともだちは...give. いま先生はアメリカです。
I am a teacher....(COMPANY NAME) give apartment! apartment and bike give! before teacher is american. give! now...old teacher is in america!
That actually worked pretty well.
If by "pretty well" you mean "OMG...call for backup", that is.
After I couldn't get through to the two regular cops, they took the time to call for their superiors to deal with my ridiculous situation.
-Not the Bike's owner
-Strange time to be riding
-Crazy story in a language you don't understand.
So, basically, the probably should just have gone ahead and arrested me, deported me, or taken my bike, or heck...all three. In fact, they were remarkably nice about the whole thing. After all, I'm still blogging, so you know that the "deported" thing didn't happen, anyway.
At about this point, I ended up getting a hold of my co worker with a wonderful text that read:
you awake? i've been stopped by the police about my bike. (smiley face)
/later she would tell me that this message was a great example of how to make proper use of "the present perfect passive tense" and that it would probably make it into her lessons.
Anyway... she called me and we had a nice three-way conversation with just one phone. Everybody explained what they had to say, and the cops nodded and said ok, and that they understood, and that I just needed to wait a little longer.
So, he hung up the phone and waited. We made some vague jokes with our limited communication abilties. I said (in Japanese) I was sorry for the difficulty and my bad japanese, and he said "difficult" a lot, and then I said I would study more. Then we both agreed that it was a nice night. After a few しょがないｓ (shogannai?... is kind of like "Such is life", "oh well", "it can't be helped" and "Shit happens" all rolled into one.)... we came to the end of our functional communication and started over again at the beginning.
After a bit of this, I was saved by Kaori, who got worried and called back:
B: Moshi Moshi?
K: Are you ok? Is everything alright?
B: Yeah...I'm still with the cops...er... ok... gotta go. There's a squad car pulling up.
K: What? Why?
B: No idea. Gotta go! I'll call you if they try to deport me, ok? Bye!
The senior guy ended up speaking a bit more english, so I told my "Me Sensei, Friend Give." story again. They called head office and had someone start checking out my vague story, and they piled me into the cop car to head back to my apartment to check out that I actually gave them my real address.
Having seen that I was who I claimed to be, and that I had a key to the apartment that I claimed to have, and having received word that my story basically checked out, all was good. In the end, I guess they decided that I was both too cheerful and too uh... baka... to have any malicious intent. So they drove my sketchy ass back to the bridge where they'd stopped me, and sent me on my merry way a scant 90 minutes after I'd been originally pulled over.
Booked - when the police put information about you into their big ol' book. Arrested, detained, stopped, etc, by the police.
OMG - Oh My God!