Sunday, November 13, 2005

politicians in the palace

President Bush is coming to Kyoto this week. He’s arriving on Tuesday and Kyoto is determined to be prepared. Streets will be closed, traffic will be rerouted, and entire sections of the city will be set off limits to the public.

It seems, however, that bicyclists are the target for the severest crackdown. In the twenty minutes it took me to bike home from downtown I passed no less than sixteen policemen/safety patrol officers and four bicycle checkpoints.

What are they looking for? Are they afraid that a man riding a stolen or incorrectly registered bicycle is, in fact, planning the world’s first bicycle bomb? Are they worried that the President will look down on the city from his helicopter and be horrified by the lack of illuminated headlights on the bikes of Japanese citizens?

I could be wrong in assuming that they are not preparing for mass demonstrations by angry ex-patriots, anti-Bush groups, and “Americans are wrongly taking over the world” fanatics, but I see little of it. Instead, I am stuck making sure I am riding in a straight line and always remembering to turn on my headlight.

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