“What the Luck?” Reader’s Supplement

Hello there, reader. I hope you will enjoy / are enjoying / have enjoyed What the Luck? This blog post is intended to serve as an informational supplement to the book. It will work best if you read the introduction now, and then look at the relevant pictures/video for each chapter as you read the book. I don’t think there are any real spoilers if you want to look ahead, but you won’t really get the context so I advise against it.

It was an interesting challenge to write a book that takes place in a foreign country, in this case Japan. For one, there is the language problem, so as a writer I had to decide how much of the foreign language I wanted to include in the book. I did not want the book to become a Japanese lesson book, so I smartly kept most of it out. To that end, the main character, Bill, was made out to be a quick study in languages and was given several months to prepare for the trip. Even so, I will admit that, realistically, he probably would have had a harder time understanding the people he interacts with. However, I did not want the story to get bogged down in “lost in translation” moments so I kept the “What was that?” conversations to a bare minimum.

So why pick Japan, you ask? To tell you the truth, I’m not really sure. These things just sort of evolve. I suppose that I wanted to write a little bit about the Fukushima power plant. Actually, while I am on the subject of the power plant, I just wanted to ease any worries you might have about a humorous book  having to do with Fukushima. Rest assured that I do not make fun of the tragedy over there. In fact, the book is tangentially about helping its victims. Any humor to do with the plant is purely satirical, mostly directed at my perceived ineptitude in the handling of the aftermath.

Another reason for writing about Japan is because most of you have never been there. I have been to Tokyo twice, and It really is a wonderful place to visit. I thought it might be interesting for my readers to get a peak at the world over there. Of course, since Bill is a tourist, most of what you will be getting a peak at is the nightlife and the restaurants.

Since this book does take place in Japan, it obviously contains many Japanese words. I will give you a pronunciation cheat-sheet for the main characters below, but you might also like to visit my Easy Peasy Japanese Pronunciation Guide. By the way, Japanese names are given in the reverse order from that in America, i.e. (Family Name) (Given Name). Some characters are referred to by their family name, while other by their given name. The book covers why this is so, but the basic premise is that the older or more powerful characters tend to be called by their family names out of respect, while the younger or less formal characters tend to be called by their given names out of friendliness or familiarity.

Natsuko: Pronounced “nots ko”. The “u” is not really sounded, but perhaps there is a small pause in its place. This is a given name. Incidentally, it means Summer Child.

Kurokawa: Pronounced pretty much like it looks – “koo roe kah wah”, although the “r” almost sounds like a “d” in that your tongue should actually touch the roof of your mouth a little when you pronounce it. This is a family name. It means Black River, which I think is a pretty cool name.

Sakura: Pronounced “sah koo rah”. Same deal with the “r”. This is a given name. It means Cherry Blossom, and is a very popular girl’s name.

Okane Noboru: Pronounced “Oe kah neh noe boe roo”. Same deal with the “r”.

Okane Gin: Pronounced “oe kah neh geen”. “Gin” has a hard “g” and the “i” is a long “e” sound. It is not pronounced like the alcohol.

Sakamoto: Pronounced pretty much how it looks – “sah kah moe toe”. This is a family name.

Ishiku-gumi: Pronounced “ish koo goo mee”. The one “i” in the middle there doesn’t really get sounded, although there is a slight pause there in its honor. This is a fictitious Yakuza group, and was loosely modeled after the real life Yamaguchi-gumi. Ishiku-gumi means The Stonemason Group or The Stonemason Family.

Yasei-kai: Pronounced “yah say kie”. This is another fictitious Yakuza group, but was not modeled after any particular group. The name means The Wild Association or The Wild Bunch.

 

OK, with all that out of the way, let’s get into the bonus content. I do not have something for every chapter, but there are some chapters (especially the early ones where Bill is investigating Tokyo) that I thought adding some pictures and video (mostly from my own trips) would be helpful / funny / interesting. You can click on the pictures to get the full-sized version. They are presented by chapter, and hopefully in the order in which they appear in the book. Enjoy!

CHAPTER 4

Welcome sign on the way to baggage claim.

Welcome sign on the way to baggage claim. (Photo: media.berlinschools.com)

Driving from the airport. (Photo: Brian Cramer)

Driving from the airport. (Photo: Brian Cramer)

Crash Landed UFO / Big-Ass Ferris Wheel (Photo: Brian Cramer)

Crash Landed UFO / Big-Ass Ferris Wheel (Photo: Brian Cramer)

Chapter 5

Shibuya at night. (Photo: Brian Cramer)

Shibuya at night. (Photo: Brian Cramer)

Plastic replica food typically found on display in many restaurants in Japan. (Photo: Wikipedia)

Plastic replica food typically found on display in many restaurants in Japan. (Photo: Wikipedia)

Plastic replica food typically found on display in many restaurants in Japan. (Photo: Ryan Robinson)

Plastic replica food typically found on display in many restaurants in Japan. (Photo: Ryan Robinson)

 

This really is a common sight in Japan, or at least from what I saw in Tokyo. They are called sanpuru, which is derived from the English word “sample”. You can find out a little more on wikipedia.

 

There really is a Tombstone Bar in Shibuya. If you manage to find it, stop in for a drink! (Photo: Tombstone Bar Facebook Page)

There really is a Tombstone Bar in Shibuya. If you manage to find it, stop in for a drink! (Photo: Tombstone Bar Facebook Page)

Chapter 7

 

Minato Ward, a port city along Tokyo Bay.

Minato ward, a port along Tokyo Bay, and the area of Bill’s first hotel. (Photo: Brian Cramer)

Some building with an overpass in front of it in Minato ward(Photo: Brian Cramer)

Some building with an overpass in front of it in Minato ward. (Photo: Brian Cramer)

 

A bronze head of some aristocratic Westerner on top. (Photo: Brian Cramer)

A large pedestal with a bronze head of some aristocratic Westerner on top. (Photo: Brian Cramer)

a small, wooden, old-style, Japanese building (the type with the roof that curves upward at the tips) that was sandwiched between a modern apartment complex and a modern office building.

A small, wooden, old-style, Japanese building that was sandwiched between a modern apartment complex and a modern office building. (Photo: Brian Cramer)

Another example of "out-of-place" architecture. (Photo: Ryan Robinson)

Another example of “out-of-place” architecture. (Photo: Ryan Robinson)

Zojo-ji, a Buddhist temple in Minato Ward, with the Tokyo Tower looming in the background. (Photo: Brian Cramer)

Zojo-ji, a Buddhist temple in Minato Ward, with the Tokyo Tower looming in the background. (Photo: Brian Cramer)

Jizo statues along the side of Zojo-ji. (Photo: Brian Cramer)

Jizo statues along the side of Zojo-ji. (Photo: Brian Cramer)

Jizo statues along the side of Zojo-ji. (Photo: Brian Cramer)

Jizo statues along the side of Zojo-ji. (Photo: Brian Cramer)

Looking up the length of Tokyo Tower (Photo: Brian Cramer)

Looking up the length of Tokyo Tower (Photo: Brian Cramer)

A nearly 360-degree panorama from the main observation deck of Tokyo Tower, taken on an unfortunately hazy day. (Photo: Brian Cramer)

A nearly 360-degree panorama from the main observation deck of Tokyo Tower, taken on an unfortunately hazy day. (Photo: Brian Cramer)

One of the two Tokyo Tower mascots. Yeah, I don't know what to make of it either. (Photo: Brian Cramer)

One of the two Tokyo Tower mascots. Yeah, I don’t know what to make of it either. (Photo: Brian Cramer)

Japan Railway maps and ticket machines. (Photo: TokyoTips.net)

Japan Railway maps and ticket machines. (Photo: TokyoTips.net)

Shinjuku at night. In the book, I reference the movie "Lost in Translation" a few times. Coincidentally, you can see this very same view in the very beginning of the movie when Bill Murray is riding in the taxi to his hotel. (Photo: Brian Cramer)

Shinjuku at night. In the book, I reference the movie “Lost in Translation” a few times. Coincidentally, you can see this very same view in the very beginning of the movie when Bill Murray is riding in the taxi to his hotel. (Photo: Brian Cramer)

Another shot of the eye-searing lights of Shinjuku.

Another shot of the eye-searing lights of Shinjuku. (Photo: Ryan Robinson)

Chapter 9

Stroopwafels - a most excellent snack, but perhaps a bit to sugary for breakfast. (Photo: Brian Cramer)

Stroopwafels – a most excellent snack, but perhaps a bit too sugary for breakfast. (Photo: Brian Cramer)

Stroopwafels - a most excellent snack, but perhaps a bit to sugary for breakfast. (Photo: Brian Cramer)

Stroopwafels – a most excellent snack, but perhaps a bit too sugary for breakfast. (Photo: Brian Cramer)

 

Weider-in-Jelly, a most excellent energy drink and hangover cure. (Photo: Brian Cramer)

Weider-in-Jelly, a most excellent energy drink and hangover cure. (Photo: Brian Cramer)

Cosplay in Harajuku. (Photo: International Colleges Japan)

Cosplay in Harajuku. (Photo: International Colleges Japan)

Some guys wearing red leotards while walking down the streets of Harajuku, probably to foster attention for some cause or another. Notice how crowded the streets can get in Harajuku. (Photo: Brian Cramer)

Some guys wearing red leotards while walking down the streets of Harajuku, probably to foster attention for some cause or another. Notice how crowded the streets can get in Harajuku. (Photo: Brian Cramer)

A strange hand puppet that makes the sound of a hundred screaming Japanese schoolgirls when you opened its mouth. (Photo: Brian Cramer)

A strange hand puppet that makes the sound of a hundred screaming Japanese schoolgirls when you open its mouth. (Photo: Brian Cramer)

French (or rather Japanese) maids. OK, I guess they can be cute, too. (Photo: Gaijin Report)

French (or rather Japanese) maids. OK, I guess they can be cute. (Photo: Gaijin Report)

Barrels of wine, probably long emptied, that can be found in the park just outside of the Harajuku section of town. (Photo: Brian Cramer)

Barrels of wine, probably long emptied, that can be found in the park just outside of the Harajuku section of town. (Photo: Brian Cramer)

A lake in Hibiya Park. (Photo: Brian Cramer)

A lake in Hibiya Park. (Photo: Brian Cramer)

I asked a Japanese friend of mine about the “grass skirts” on the trees, and this is what she said:

“Those are called komomaki and they are there to provide a place for the caterpillars laid from moth eggs (matsugareha) higher in the tree to go instead of into the ground. Once the caterpillars crawl down the tree they stay in the mats because they are a comfy place to go in the winter, and then we burn the mats to get rid of them all. It’s our way of population control for these pests. That way the next year there will be less of them and they won’t destroy all of the needles on the trees, making the trees starve for nutrition and unable to absorb the sun, then dying. I believe I read in history class they were invented in the Edo period, so we’ve been doing it a long time.”

The weird rigging of the trees in Hibiya Park. (Photo: Ryan Robinson)

The weird rigging of the trees in Hibiya Park. (Photo: Ryan Robinson)

These are not Godzilla. (Photo: Ryan Robinson)

These are not Godzilla. (Photo: Ryan Robinson)

The fountain in Hibiya park where Bill graciously ate a baloney sandwich. (Photo: Ryan Robinson)

The fountain in Hibiya park where Bill graciously ate a baloney sandwich. (Photo: Ryan Robinson)

Stone money, very hard to carry in your pockets. (Photo: Ryan Robinson)

Stone money, very hard to carry in your pockets. (Photo: Ryan Robinson)

Plaque next to the stone money. (Photo: Brian Cramer)

Plaque next to the stone money. (Photo: Brian Cramer)

Godzilla is not so menacing in person, as my friend Ryan demonstrates. (Photo: Brian Cramer)

Godzilla is not so menacing in person, as my friend Ryan demonstrates. (Photo: Brian Cramer)

 

Artist's rendering of Bill using distance and camera angles to make Godzilla look fierce. (Photo: Godzilla by Brian Cramer, Prince William by CNN)

Artist’s rendering of Bill using distance and camera angles to make Godzilla look fierce. (Photo: Godzilla by Brian Cramer, Prince William by CNN)

A sign in the Tokyo subway telling you to be an asshole at home. (Photo: Brian Cramer)

A sign in the Tokyo subway telling you to be an asshole at home. (Photo: Brian Cramer)

Anime dolls in Akihabara, probably not for children. (Photo: bugbog.com)

Anime dolls in Akihabara, probably not for children. (Photo: bugbog.com)

More dolls in Akihaba. At least these come with clothes. (Photo: wn.com)

More dolls in Akihabara. At least these come with clothes. (Photo: wn.com)

Yodobashi-Akiba, a giant electronics store in Akihabara (Akiba for short). (Photo: Ryan Robinson)

Yodobashi-Akiba, a giant electronics store in Akihabara (Akiba for short). (Photo: Ryan Robinson)

Bio Bidet Electonic Toilet Seat

The toilets that I described in my book “Zero Calvin” back in 2003 really do exist! Imagine my surprise when I went to Japan and my hotel room actually had electronic butt-washing/drying toilet seats. You can buy them right in Yodobashi-Akiba.

Bill's locker key bracelet for his stay in the Capsule Hotel. (Photo: Brian Cramer)

Bill’s locker key bracelet for his stay in the capsule hotel. (Photo: Brian Cramer)

Bill's "room" at the capsule hotel. (Photo: Brian Cramer)

Bill’s “room” at the capsule hotel. (Photo: Brian Cramer)

The TV in Bill's "room". (Photo: Brian Cramer)

The TV in Bill’s “room”. (Photo: Brian Cramer)

The radio and room controls in Bill's "room". (Photo: Brian Cramer)

The radio and room controls in Bill’s “room”. (Photo: Brian Cramer)

The light and fresh air vent in the "room". (Photo: Brian Cramer)

The light and fresh air vent in the “room”. (Photo: Brian Cramer)

A map of the 6th floor of the capsule hotel. (Photo: Brian Cramer)

A map of the 6th floor of the capsule hotel. (Photo: Brian Cramer)

Bill's feet. (Photo: Brian Cramer)

Bill’s feet, as texted to his friend, Kevin. (Photo: Brian Cramer)

Artist's rendering of what it is like to ride the Yamanote line during rush-hour. (Photo: Brian Cramer)

Artist’s rendering of what it is like to ride the Yamanote line during rush-hour. (Photo: Brian Cramer)

The building that contains the Park Hyatt. (Photo: Brian Cramer)

The building that contains the Park Hyatt. (Photo: Brian Cramer)

One of three mirrored walls with a bronze head poking out, which can be found inside the elevator of the Park Hyatt building. (Photo: Brian Cramer)

One of three mirrored walls with a bronze head poking out, which can be found inside the elevator of the Park Hyatt building. (Photo: Brian Cramer)

One of three mirrored walls with a bronze head poking out, which can be found inside the elevator of the Park Hyatt building. (Photo: Brian Cramer)

One of three mirrored walls with a bronze head poking out, which can be found inside the elevator of the Park Hyatt building. (Photo: Brian Cramer)

One of three mirrored walls with a bronze head poking out, which can be found inside the elevator of the Park Hyatt building. (Photo: Brian Cramer)

One of three mirrored walls with a bronze head poking out, which can be found inside the elevator of the Park Hyatt building. (Photo: Brian Cramer)

"Library" in the Park Hyatt, located on-route to the lobby. (Photo: Brian Cramer)

“Library” in the Park Hyatt, located on-route to the lobby. (Photo: Brian Cramer)

 

The classy key from the Park Hyatt. (Photo: Brian Cramer)

The classy key from the Park Hyatt. (Photo: Brian Cramer)

The daytime view from Bill's room at the Park Hyatt (Photo: Brian Cramer)

The daytime view from Bill’s room at the Park Hyatt (Photo: Brian Cramer)

The nighttime view from Bill's room at the Park Hyatt (Photo: Brian Cramer)

The nighttime view from Bill’s room at the Park Hyatt (Photo: Brian Cramer)

 

The lounge at the top floor of the Park Hyatt, and the singer who would not sleep with Bill. (Photo: Brian Cramer)

The lounge at the top floor of the Park Hyatt, and the singer who would not sleep with Bill. (Photo: Brian Cramer)

The lounge at the top floor of the Park Hyatt. (Photo: Brian Cramer)

The lounge at the top floor of the Park Hyatt. (Photo: Brian Cramer)

The lounge at the top floor of the Park Hyatt. (Photo: Brian Cramer)

The lounge at the top floor of the Park Hyatt. (Photo: Brian Cramer)

The "Infinity Fountain" outside the Park Hyatt. (Photo: Brian Cramer)

The “Infinity Fountain” outside the Park Hyatt. (Photo: Brian Cramer)

The "Infinity Fountain" outside the Park Hyatt. This is where the water makes a U-turn and goes down the stairs. (Photo: Brian Cramer)

The “Infinity Fountain” outside the Park Hyatt. This is where the water makes a U-turn and goes down the stairs. (Photo: Brian Cramer)

The "Infinity Fountain" outside the Park Hyatt. Although not evident in the picture, the water travels down beside the stairs. (Photo: Brian Cramer)

The “Infinity Fountain” outside the Park Hyatt. Although not evident in the picture, the water travels down beside the stairs. (Photo: Brian Cramer)

 

Here be dragons. (Photo: Ryan Robinson)

Here Be Dragons. (Photo: Ryan Robinson)

Chapter 14

Tamura, Fukushima, Japan (Map: Google)

Tamura, Fukushima, Japan (Map: Google)

Funehiki, Tamura, Fukushima, Japan (Map: Google)

Funehiki, Tamura, Fukushima, Japan (Map: Google)

If you are from America, then you can think of Fukushima as a state (it is really a prefecture), while Tamura is a city, and Funehiki is a town within the city.

 

Kirin City in Shinjuku (Photo: Ryan Robinson)

Kirin City in Shinjuku (Photo: Ryan Robinson)

Yes, there really is a Kirin City in Shinjuku, and I stand by the description of the food (very good but very small) and the service (lacking). Although, I have since learned that waitresses in Japan tend not to hover over you like they do in the States, and it is perfectly normal (and useful) to call out to them with a “Sumimasen!” to get their attention. This is much preferred over setting fire to the menu.

Also, while I’m here talking about this chapter, I’ll explain the Bill / Beer thing. Bill in Japanese would be biru, pronounced “bee roo”, although that sneaky little “R” sounds a little like a “D” and maybe a little like an “L” too. This sound serves the purpose of both an “R” and an “L”, and I’m sure it is the origin of the gag about Japanese people getting these confused. Although, I have read a blog by an American who went to Japan and married a Japanese woman, and she admitted that she tries to avoid talking about politics in English during certain times because she is terrified of mispronouncing “election.” But I’m getting WAY off topic.

Anyway, Bill (biru) is pronounced “bee roo” and beer (biiru) is pronounced “beeee roo”, the first syllable is just held longer. And so that is what Natsuko is referring to.

The park that Bill visits on his way back from eating lunch with Natsuku.

The park that Bill visits on his way back from eating lunch with Natsuku.

In reality this park (Kyū Shiba Rikyū Garden) is in Minato, not Shinjuku. But this is fiction, and if I had never told you, then you would have never known. So just forget that I said anything, OK?

Seriously though, if you are ever in the area, then go here. It is staggeringly scenic. Here are a few more pics:

Kyū Shiba Rikyū Garden in Minato ward (Photo: Brian Cramer)

Kyū Shiba Rikyū Garden in Minato ward (Photo: Brian Cramer)

Kyū Shiba Rikyū Garden in Minato ward (Photo: Brian Cramer)

Kyū Shiba Rikyū Garden in Minato ward (Photo: Brian Cramer)

Kyū Shiba Rikyū Garden in Minato ward (Photo: Brian Cramer)

Kyū Shiba Rikyū Garden in Minato ward (Photo: Brian Cramer)

Thirty little kids, dressed in little sailor suits and red caps, screaming at the top of their lungs while rolling down a hill in unison and making a big pile of little kids at the bottom.

Thirty little kids, dressed in little sailor suits and red caps, screaming at the top of their lungs while rolling down a hill in unison and making a big pile of little kids at the bottom. Well, more or less.

Chapter 15

One of three African-voodoo-witch-doctor things that protect the city of Funehiki (Photo: Sakura Goaka)

One of three African-voodoo-witch-doctor things that protect the city of Funehiki. The sign reads “Welcome to Funehuki Town.” (Photo: Sakura Goaka)

You can see more pictures of these guys with this Google image search.

Bill's new neighborhood. (Map: Google)

Bill’s new neighborhood. (Map: Google)

Bill's drop-off point in Funehiki. (Photo: Google)

Bill’s drop-off point in Funehiki. (Photo: Google)

Some of Bill's neighborhood. (Photo: Google)

Some of Bill’s neighborhood. (Photo: Google)

Some of Bill's neighborhood. (Photo: Google)

Some of Bill’s neighborhood. (Photo: Google)

Bill's Street. (Photo: Google)

Bill’s Street. (Photo: Google)

Bill's apartment in Funehiki. (Photo: Google)

Bill’s apartment in Funehiki. (Photo: Google)

If you somehow manage to find this place, please don’t bother the people who live there. This is just fiction after all. Oh, and please don’t put up a plaque that reads “Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, resided here in April of blah blah blah” either.

Chapter 16

 

The usual collection of gas stations, grocery stores, and car dealerships that are found the world over along these sorts of roads. (Photo: Google)

The usual collection of gas stations, grocery stores, and car dealerships that are found the world over along these sorts of roads. (Photo: Google)

Iwasaki Be-I Factory, the inspiration behind Ymmy Plastics. (Photo: Google)

Iwasaki Be-I Factory, the inspiration behind Yummy Plastics, is located in Yokohama, not Tamura. (Photo: Google)

 

Here is a short video about the fake plastic food industry in Japan.

C4 - although surprisingly stable to handle, it's not really modeling clay.

C4 – although surprisingly stable to handle, it’s not really modeling clay.

Realistic fingers. Ewwww.

Realistic plastic fingers. Ewwww.

Is it a prison? (Photo: Google)

Is it a prison? (Photo: Google)

No, it's a High School. (Photo: Google)

No, it’s a high school. (Photo: Google)

The park in Bill's neighborhood (Photo: Google)

The park in Bill’s neighborhood (Photo: Google)

The mysterious shrine in the park. (Photo: Google)

The mysterious shrine in the park. (Photo: Google)

As with Bill’s apartment, please don’t disturb this place thinking that you are going to gain super powers if you can shake the rope hard enough for the bells to fall on your head. Honestly, I’ve never been to this place in real life, and I’m not even sure that it has big bells – some of the shrines do not. So listen, just don’t, OK?

Oops, she forgot the holy water too. Now she has desecrated the sanctity of something or another – shame, shame. In this next video, you can see about the holy water:

Chapter 18

It’s a Nissan Tiida. They call it a Versa in America. It was in Heroes. Have you seen Heroes? I loved Heroes. (Photo: motorclube.com.br)

It’s a Nissan Tiida. They call it a Versa in America. It was in Heroes. Have you seen Heroes? I loved Heroes. (Photo: motorclube.com.br)

Bill's commute. (Map: Google)

Bill’s commute. (Map: Google)

Bill's new workplace. (Photo: Google)

Bill’s new workplace. (Photo: Google)

As with Bill’s apartment and the shrine, I don’t suggest that you visit this place. Speaking of which, I’ve never been inside of Fukushima Daiichi, but I have been inside several power plants and one nuclear plant before, so that is where my descriptions come from. And, just to cover my ass, I’d like to stress that I have no first-hand knowledge of the inner workings of this plant, and all references to it in the book are the product of my own imagination. So don’t sue me, bro!

Chapter 22

This is not really how I pictured the key, but this is pretty sweet, huh? (Photo: steampunknation.com)

This is not really how I pictured the key, but this is pretty sweet, huh? (Photo: steampunknation.com)

Chapter 23

Kurokawa Yoshi (Photo: Business Insider)

Kurokawa Yoshi (Photo: Business Insider)

OK, no, it’s not really him because he is fictional. But this is the face I pictured when describing him. And just look at that wonderful frown! In case you are curious, this person is really Satoshi (Dorian) Nakamoto, the man that Newsweek falsely identified as the creator of Bitcoin.

Chapter 25

Sorry, no pictures here – just a little side note. Bill’s code of ethics was very, very loosly drawn from Ayn Rand’s The Virtue of Selfishness. It’s actually an interesting read, but I suggest that you read Atlas Shrugged and maybe even The Fountainhead first, which are two novels that demonstrate her philosophy (called Objectivism). She is good author, if not a little long-winded at times.

Chapter 26

A white maneki neko. (Photo: iconarchive.jp)

A white maneki neko. (Photo: iconarchive.jp)

A gold maneki neko (Photo: wikipedia)

A gold maneki neko (Photo: wikipedia)

Artist's rendering of Sakura's costume (Drawing: pixta.jp, colors modified by Brian Cramer)

Artist’s rendering of Sakura’s costume (Drawing: pixta.jp, colors modified by Brian Cramer)

Chapter 29

Natsuko did not look like this, much to Bill's relief.

Natsuko did not look like this, much to Bill’s relief.

Chapter 30

The Yakuza really do chop off their own fingers sometimes, and they really do make replica replacements.

The Yakuza really do chop off their own fingers sometimes, and they really do make replica replacements. (Photo: The Sun)

Chapter 40

This is apparently how they actually make the fake shrimp tempura. That’s good because I’d hate to picture poor Sally having to hand carve all those flaky bits.

Chapter 44

Sakura’s Suicide Prevention Hotline ringtone.

Sakura's Suicide Prevention Hotline phone strap.

Sakura’s Suicide Prevention Hotline phone strap.

Chapter 47

An old-school traditional Japanese living room table. Many homes are more "modern/Western" now, to some degree.

An old-school traditional Japanese living room table. Many homes are more “modern/Western” now, to some degree. (Photo: homemydesign.com)

A traditional Japanese futon (bed), but many Japanese also switch in more traditional beds.

A traditional Japanese futon (bed), but many Japanese also sleep in more “modern/Western” beds.

Chapter 50

Did you really want to see pictures of this?!? Sicko!

Chapter 55

The new apartment assignments after Bill and Natsuko purchase the complex. (Photo: Google)

The new apartment assignments after Bill and Natsuko purchase the complex. (Photo: Google)

Front view of Bill and Natsuko's apartment complex. (Photo: Google)

Front view of Bill and Natsuko’s apartment complex. (Photo: Google)

Incidentally, the name “Sadamoto Hayao” is a nod to Sadamoto Yoshiyuki (the character designer of the best known Gainax anime series, Neon Genesis Evangelion) and Miyazaki Hayao (a well known Japanese film director, animator, manga artist, illustrator, producer, screenwriter, and all-around talented guy.)

Chapter 58

An ornate yellow and gold couch in the White Drawing Room of Buckingham Palace. (Photo: royal.gov.uk)

An ornate yellow and gold couch in the White Drawing Room of Buckingham Palace. (Photo: royal.gov.uk)

You can see more of this room by taking a virtual room tour.

Chapter 59

Wow, the last chapter. Bummer. But at least you can go back and read it again if you want. I hope you enjoyed it half as much as I did writing it. If you did, you might like to check out my Zero Calvin books.

Oh, by the way, I have been to a laundry mat / video arcade, and I have been to a video arcade / bar (both in Tennessee), but I’ve never seen a place with all three combined. I call dibs on the idea!