A story goes that hundreds of years ago, the hand of a princess was offered to the warrior who could defeat the enemies of a certain clan. This doubtless seemed like a romantic ideal until the triumphant victor turned out to be a dog.
It is very hard to refuse an invitation to an exhibit that promises to be the juxtaposition of sake (yes, the Japanese alcohol), technology and art. Although I admit it was perhaps rather less necessary to illegally break in.
Leaning over the seated figure, I cupped one palm around each of her exposed breasts and squeezed. Cameras snapped as I pressed a thumb against each nipple. Not a bad texture, but the uniform consistency meant a hard squeeze compressed the flesh too much. Then someone came up beside me took off her head.
When I grow up, I want to be Yayoi Kusama. At 87, the Japanese artist wears her hair a shocking orange-red and paints psychedelic scenes of abstract polkadot landscapes you suspect you may once have seen in a high fever.
Travel between Japan's two largest cities can be done in a mere two hours via the Shinkansen bullet train, which rockets through the country at speeds up to 200 mph (~300 km/h). Alternatively, you could pay more and take seven and half hours and ride a bus.
When it comes to historical truths, Japan does not have the best reputation. School textbooks are notorious for glossing over the nastier of Japan's wartime activities, while the government is periodically caught in verifiable lies worthy of Trump's inauguration numbers. But how does this feed into the daily news coverage in modern day Japan?
The rise of Daesh has resulted in a huge increase in hate crimes against Muslim citizens. This is due to claims by the terrorist organisation that their abhorrent actions are supported by Islamic doctrine, despite being repeatedly and strongly contested by the Muslim community. In a backlash to anti-Islam rhetoric, a steadily louder claim has emerged that all religions are a source of evil. This seems to have upset a large number of Christians who believe that Christianity is fundamentally a force for good.
"What about tomorrow?" The three men in the blue uniforms of the Sekai moving company were crowded around a cupboard containing shoes. This is a standard feature right by the entrance of any Japanese apartment: the movers had not yet got further into my home.
"It's fine," I assured them in my limited Japanese. "You can pack everything."
"But... tomorrow..." One of the movers looked across from the cupboard and gaped in shock. "Aahh!" he pointed at my feet. His two colleagues crowded close. "She's wearing shoes."
The answer was bound to be 'yes'. I had fallen into conversation with the elderly lady sitting beside me as we had sought out the shuttle bus to transfer to the airport's domestic terminal. I was connecting from Tokyo to Sapporo, she was bound for Osaka. Judging from her accent, we had both just stepped off the London Heathrow flight.
When I arrived home one evening, I discovered I had been sent a box of magic. Raw, spreadably glutenous, brown yeast extract magic in six incredible different varieties. The note that came with it was clear: "I expect a full review".
The closing ceremony for the International Astronomical Union (IAU) General Assembly marks not only the culmination of a two week science conference, but also the official change of the Executive Committee. This did not go well.
Today, I became annoyed by an article in 'The Guardian'. It was a piece discussing the consequences for the Nobel Laureate British biochemist, Sir Tim Hunt, after his disastrous speech at the World Conference of Science Journalists in Seoul last week.