Monthly Archives: December 2012

Reflexive Responsiveness

The other day, I was taking the train, on my way to see a friend. At one of the stations, a man looking about 35 got on the train with his girlfriend. He was wearing grey sweatpants with a matching hooded sweatjacket, which was zipped down to reveal a red shirt. He had walked on the train with a bit of a saunter, and he looked at his girlfriend as she typed on her phone with a certain contemplative admiration. He gave me the impression of being a scaffolder.

The train arrived at Shinagawa, and we all got off. Stairs led up from the platform to the mezzanine level. The man, close to the door, started up the stairs before me. Climbing the stairs with us were a group of high-school girls in uniform, all with the same blue-and-white vinyl bags. One of them dropped something, and as it hit the stairs and bounced, the man tapped one of the girls on the shoulder. The object bounced down the stairs, reaching the bottom just as I was about to start to climb, and I picked it up – it was two woolen gloves rolled into one another. The girl looked to the man who had tapped her on the shoulder, who nodded toward me, as we were all climbing up the stairs. I held up the gloves to show her, and she shook her head “no”. I looked toward the man with a raised eyebrow. He looked ahead, and tapped another girl on the shoulder. When she looked, he nodded toward me. She had a look of recognition, and stopped as I climbed up the stairs to where she was. I nodded toward the man, and he nodded back, never stopping as he climbed the stairs. As I passed her, I passed the girl the gloves, and she said “Arigato” in thanks.

Reaching the top of the stairs, I turned an saw the man as he was heading toward the ticket gates. He was alone – the one who I thought was was his girlfriend was not his girlfriend – I had only thought that she was because of the way he’d observed her.

I thought about the wordless way we had been able to return the high-schooler her gloves, and how similar it was to the way scaffolders work on a construction site – aware of one’s surroundings, seeing the developing environment and wordlessly moving to do what is helpful.

Now Hiring

Team Inazuma is looking for an athletic and mentally sharp person to work in the exciting job of a scaffolder (足場鳶 – あしばとび). Work days are flexible, starting at one day a week, up to six days a week. The applicant will preferably have experience in team sports or martial arts. Work hours are typically from 8am to 6pm, with a 20-minute break at 10am and 3pm, and an hour for lunch at noon. Japanese JLPT 4 or equivalent is required, and will be determined by interview. We regret we cannot serve as a visa sponsor.

Team Inazuma raises and lowers temporary structures for the purpose of renovating or constructing buildings. Over the course of your work, you will be dispatched to sites within the metropolitan Tokyo region, giving you the chance to explore new neighborhoods. No previous scaffolding experience required – you will receive training with the more experienced members of the team.

The part time nature of the job allows people time for other pursuits – our team includes two world-class Taiko drummers, a local film actor, and a multilingual Aikido black belt, all enjoying the flexible work hours, the supplementary income, and the opportunity to train physically on a team in a job with roots extending over 1000 years back to the Asuka period in Japan. There being no more samurai, we believe that in the spirit of this job that we are the inheritors and preservers of the Old Spirit of Japan – the Yamatodamashii.

Join us for an exciting dive into heart of Japan.

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