Someone once likened child birth to fruit.

To be quite exact they said “You try squeezing something the size of a melon, through an opening the size of a cherry”.

Japanese filp flop on a wooden background. Camera Canon 5D.

Japanese filp flop on a wooden background. Camera Canon 5D.

Needless to say no more was said on the subject of giving birth……. at least not by me, I value my life very much. And since I will never have a child, at least not by delivery, wearing Japanese slippers is my only experience anywhere close to the pain of giving birth.

Picture it if you will. Honshu 2006. You are going for a few days to an Onsen (a Japanese Spa type resort) nestled in the mountains of the prefecture you live in. Your nostrils are assailed by the wonderful fragrance of rotting eggs, the scent that you will find if you have a very bad grocer or when you’re busy ascending a mountain that might begin spewing lava any second. You get to your resort and it’s this huge imposing building, set into the side of the mountain with a commanding view of the valley below.

You’re impressed, but wait, if that weren’t enough a stones throw away you see an extremely gorgeous looking house. “That” you are told “is one of the Emperor’s get away homes”. “Great” you think to yourself, “I must drop in for tea some time.”

You turn your attention back to the Hotel and are about to go waltzing through the lobby, when you are brought to a screeching halt, by a grim faced receptionist.

The lobby floor he says “Is a one man kinda gal.”

Your shoes, they point out have had carnal knowledge of miles upon miles of acreage. “Who knows what kind of ground it’s been with?” they lament. Therefore your shoes and the floor of the lobby are not to have any intimate contact whatsoever.

But never fear, for right next to the entrance there is an enormous box of slippers. “Great” you think, kicking of your shoes, “now to just find my size.” You take out the first pair and think, “Too small”, and toss it aside. Nothing to worry about after all, there is an entire box full isn’t there. It’s full alright; full of slippers all exactly the same size. Someone obviously got a bargain while shopping at COSTCO for slippers for children ranging from ages 4 – 8.

Unfortunately the adult sale must have been over by the time they got there. You sigh, like you’ve been doing a lot lately and take the pair you think looks marginally bigger than the others. Now imagine if you will trying to stuff a gallon of ice cream into a quart container and you might get some idea of what its like to see a man who wears size elevens, trying on a pair of slippers that could barely fit his eight year old niece.

You saunter off, heels dragging on the floor, your socks suffering from friction burns, wondering again as you have been since you got there “How did this country become a world power?”

Rico-san is a Jamaican English teacher, adventurer, and book lover touring Japan.

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