Space School Cornwall Eclipse trip: Part 5

Link to: Part One | Part Two | Part Three | Part Four: Deconstructing 'C'est la vie' | Part Five: Our man from Japan | Part Six: A Rogue Train Traveller's Guide to the UK rail system

Our man from Japan

Who is this mysterious person who I keep on referring to as 'Tak'? Does he bear any resemblance to the person 'Takemoto' I referred to earlier? In a word, yes. Well, maybe. Okay, no.

Takayuki 'don't call me Tacky because that's tacky, just call me Tak' Muto explained this. Obviously we must have overestimated the intelligence of the Space School attendees, because according to Tak they couldn't grasp the concept of someone called 'Takayuki Muto.' Instead, his name magically became 'Takemoto.'

He originally came over to the UK last year (1998) for an exchange visit to the Isle of Skye, where he stayed for a year. During that stay, he attended the Easter Space School course. Shortly afterwards, he returned to Japan, but for his holiday he came back to the UK to attend the Summer Space School (the one I went to), backpack around the UK and also see the eclipse.


From left to right: John Hodges, Tak, Yuko

It's a bit difficult to miss Tak, the dark Japanese stranger with a myserious past. But what's happening here?

As we can see, Tak's just made an amusing comment about John's railway-man cap. It might look like John is smiling, but believe me, behind those sunglasses he's seething inwardly. That's not a camera John's got around his neck. It's a gun.

Yuko, dreading John's oncoming wrath, is hiding her face in an internationally recognised gesture of 'I'm not with this guy'.

Our man from Japan (more specifically, Tokyo), after singing 'C'est la vie' a few hundred times, confessed thast the first album he'd ever bought was by B*witched. This was a shocking relevation, but I decided to let it pass since he was a foreigner to our western ways (I'm not being serious here, by the way. But his first album was by B*witched. And no, he is not an 11 year old girl. He is 17)

(30/8/99: In a recent email, Tak has clarified this issue. Click here to read his side of the story.)

Not only was Tak partial to a bit of B*witched, but he also liked Britney Spears and Billie. Often during a long minibus drive he'd be heard muttering 'give me a sign, hit me baby one more time.' To my horror, I found myself joining in. I can only attribute this to Tak's virulent personality.

Tak looks on into the distance, contemplating the substance of reality, the meaning behind our dreams, humanity's future destiny and wondering when B*witched's next album will be out.

In a conversation with Tak, it turns out that the reason the Japanese have all these cramming schools and whatnot is because in their sixth-form, they have to do the equivalent of 8 A-Levels.

So to all you smart-arses who think they're the veritable canine's nads for getting 3, 4, 5, 6 or 7 A grades at A-Level, well, you're not. 'Cos all the Japanese get that on a regular basis.



To be fair, Tak is not the only person I know who likes Britney Spears or Billie. A certain individual at my school, who we'll call 'Jez' (that alright with you, Rodrigues?) broke down under intense interrogation during a slow Biology lesson to admit that, yes, he found both Britney Spears and Billie very attractive. Especially when they were wearing school uniforms. O-kay, Jez, what you do in your own time is your business...

This line of discussion sparked off a protracted debate spanning weeks about the merits of both singers compared to other luminaries such as Gail Porter, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Louise and more, which I won't bother going into.

Unfortunately, during the week in Cornwall I never did get to see Tak's dancing skills. However, during a down-time on the A-Team minibus, I got a snapshot of Tak happily 'shakin' his rump-ah' to (I think) Britney Spears 'Baby One More Time'.

Tak here is employing the well known 'Drunken Japanese Kareoke' technique. The guy on the left, Richard, has clearly been blinded by Taks' dancing skills and is blissfully ignorant of the spectacle they are creating.

Among the things Tak was witnessed to do was play poker with breathtaking self-confidence (i.e. badly). I won't go into much detail about it - there's more about poker later. But let's just say that during the week, Tak only won one 'game' of poker out of several dozen. The words 'two high' come echoing back to me right now...

Also, Tak stayed outside during the night twice at the campsite to take some long-exposure photographs of the night sky. Here's one of the photos he took.


A long exposure photograph looking at the constellation Ursa Major (also known as the big dipper). Try and look at the end points of the stars - you'll see a pot-shaped series of stars.

That orange glow is (I think) due to light pollution. Damn you, light pollution! Damn you to hell! (said in a Homer Simpson-esque voice).

Click here for the full size photograph

About a week or two later after writing this...

Tak emailed me after reading this site. He wishes to clarify a few points. His comments are in blue.

I just want to tell about my 'CD carrier'. My very first CD I bought in the UK is STEP ONE by STEPS, not the B*Witched one (I wondered which one to buy at Woolworth in Inverness, though).

See guys, like I said, Tak is not an 11 year old girl. He just proved his manliness by buying a... Steps CD? In all fairness, I know a fair few people who like Steps. They are crazy (but they're still people. Only just, though.)

The reason why I chose STEPS was that they offered a free poster for STEP ONE. I like One For Sorrow anyway, so I don't think it was a wrong choice. Then I went home, and my host-sister (my UK guardian's daughter), aged 11, asked me to borrow that, so in turn, I borrowed her B*WITCED album and single recorded onto my mini disc. It was in last November, as far as I remember. When I actually bought B*WITCED album was actually pretty recent. I think it was last May or something.

So there you go - it's all cleared up. Those wacky Japanese, eh? Oh, and here are some final words of comfort for 'Jez', the ubiquitous 'Britney Spears/Billie in school uniform' lover.

Jez has normal feeling. Some Japanese prostitutes wear school uniforms to motivate guys.

Huh. Just a little more than we needed to know. So that'll be a ticket for one to Japan, eh Jez?

Back to Part 4, 'C'est la vie' On to Part 6, A Rogue Train Traveller's guide to the British rail network