Like a hundred thousand pieces of a living jigsaw puzzle, we walk in silent columns, men in black suits and white shirts going to the Company, speckled with a few women in colors.
In the other direction come the elementary students in bright yellow hats, marching towards school. They laugh and swing their heads and their water canteens, but they stay in line.
In the middle, on bicycles, older students in dark blue uniforms, housewives in lacy pink and gray, store workers in faded cotton, and older people in cardigans, zoom in and around the marching columns.
We dance in a slow rhythm built from decades of routine. When the columns intersect–the yellow hats turning a corner, the black suits going straight, and the bicycles crossing both lines, the dance slurs and spreads. It sometimes slows, but never stops.
(Except when a “green aunt” (緑のおばさん) is present–the ladies in green who guide and safeguard the flow of children at intersections.)
Keep moving. Adjust your direction slightly and glide through the others like streams flowing down a hill. If you stop to wait, bicycle brakes scream, walkers jump, a look of irritation passes briefly over faces. Don’t do that. If needed, nod briefly in apology, and then resume the dance.