Superlegitimate Japan

Nick Currie, a.k.a. Momus, is a musician who lives in Japan and keeps a clever blog called Click Opera. I came across his excellent entry on Japanese-ness recently: Superlegitimacy. He makes a number of sharp observations about the differences between East and West, beginning with his reverie about the strange behavior of his train conductor.

At each station he made an immaculate white-gloved gesture — a series of florid manual curlicues more like the gestures of an orchestral conductor than a train driver. He pointed at the TV screens in his console showing the doors, then pulled the train away with both gloved hands on his accelerator lever, uttering as if by compulsion his ecstatic falling cry: ‘Kkkkyyyyyoooooooo!’

Did the conductor have Tourette’s, or a mild form of autism? No. He was Japanese. He was at peace and at home. He was superlegitimate. When you feel superlegitimate, it’s hard to go wrong.