© 2012 niall. All rights reserved.

walk. don’t walk. drive. read. walk.



You better cross over
You better walk humble
Or you’re gonna stumble
And Satan is waitin’ to take your hand
You walk on the wild side
Brook Benton, Walk on the Wild Side 

Hey babe
Take a walk on the wild side
Lou Reed, Walk on the Wild Side

tangerine, weather, to
breathe them, bite,
savor, chew, swallow, transform
into our flesh our
deaths, crossing the street
Denise Levertov, O Taste and See

He wore but a thin
Wind-thridded suit,
Yet well-shaped shoes for walking in,
Artistic beaver, cane gold-topped.
“Alas, my friend,” he said with a smile,
“I am daily bound to foot ten mile –
Wet, dry, or dark – before I rest.
Thomas Hardy, The Pedestrian

You meet him on the corners,
in bus stations, on the blind avenues
leading neither in
nor out of hell, you meet him
and with him you walk.
Thomas Lux, Pedestrian

And we’ll start the driving lessons when you’ve mastered the walking bit.
Gregory’s Girl

Japanese samurai used to walk in a special way. It’s not a natural movement. You have to learn it. As you walk you swing your arm forward on the same side as your foot. It’s called namba walking. I’ll write about it in more detail another time.

I ride a bicycle most days. Today a young woman stepped into the road in front of me without looking. Yesterday a woman on a bicycle rode out in front of me without looking. Some Japanese people are perhaps a little vague about the rules of the road.

The rules become clearer after they learn to drive. A lot of people learn to drive by going off to an intensive residential course deep in the countryside. A gasshuku. The same as a camp for the martial arts.

Japan has one of the world’s highest rates of literacy. I’ll write about that again sometime. Four of the five newspapers with the largest circulations in the world are Japanese. People like to read. Last week I was walking behind a middle school boy who was reading as he walked along the street. It must have been an exciting book. Yesterday I saw a truck driver reading a comic book propped open on his steering wheel while he was stopped at a traffic light.



background articles, poems and music

Brook Benton, Walk on the Wild Side

Lou Reed, Walk on the Wild Side


Poems by Denise Levertov

Thomas Hardy, The Pedestrian

Thomas Lux, Pedestrian


Great description of how to get a driving licence in Japan

nice review of Gregory’s Girl

Gregory’s Girl

photo: Kagurazaka Street by Les Taylor

published contemporaneously on the aikido site aikiweb

my columns on aikiweb


© niall matthews 2012

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