the crazy dog and arch monkey door


“A crazy dog and an arch monkey live here.
We mutually respect and live together with peaceful relationship over many years.”
– This Door

A friend of mine lives one station away. By train, it takes two minutes to get there, and on foot it takes about…more time than that. I always make the decision to walk when I have free time, and I spend a lot of the walk thinking and daydreaming and pondering ways to master that thing Belle can do where she wears a book on her face while navigating the chaos of a busy French village.

One day, my friend and I parted ways after our baking class and I started the walk home. I have a Gets-Bored-Quickly problem, so I rarely go the same way, but one of my favorite routes is alongside the train tracks. Which sounds gritty, but remember this is Japan, Land of Landscaping. The trains here are pretty damn immaculate, particularly the Hankyu Line.

Fun note! In Kobe there are three major train lines: Japan Rail – known as JR – Hankyu, and Hanshin. They rest in three neat parallel lines running from Osaka through Kobe to Himeji, and they’re usually good indicators of the cost of housing. So for example, once I had this conversation:

SELF: Where do you live, by the way?
MALE JAPANESE FRIEND: No, no, no. Hanshin Ashiya.

Now, his defense didn’t make much of an impact because that’s like saying, “No, no, the LEAST rich area of the richest city in the region,” but it’s a good example of how to answer the “Where do you live” question in Japan. Because trains are everywhere here. Everywhere. There’s a whole mess of trains (and if you think mess is exaggerating take a peek at this). Therefore, it’s a lot more likely you’ll get some quick comprehension if you say, “I live about fifteen minutes from Osaka Station,” than if you give your neighborhood’s name.

So, right, back to the arch monkey door.

I was walking home along the Hankyu Kobe line tracks and contemplating the color blue and why it’s such a freaking awesome color when I happened to look back down to Earth and find said door off to my right.

Now, before I set off another “Oh, Crazy Japan” trend, giving the life story of the residence’s occupants isn’t a Thing or a Trend in Japan right now. If it were, I’d have a blog about that, believe you me.

What got me interested enough to take the picture was the phrase “arch monkey” because I still don’t know what that’s supposed to be. Is it like an arch duke? An archbishop? Is there a monkey inside with a sacred hat and a scepter? Living with a crazy dog?

If life were a video game, I would have kicked in the door, explored inside, and taken all the jewels from their treasure chests and broken pottery.

But sadly life is not, so I had to settle with the picture and an intriguing thought!

What if a society had this as a Thing? (In an idyllic society where violence or identity theft is Not a Thing. ) Imagine a neighborhood, rows of houses, where each door had a pithy description of the people inside. How would you describe yourself and whichever people you live with?

“A dramatic snake and sensitive boxer reside within.”
“A trio of discordant college students live here hoping for miracle pizza to spontaneously arrive with every breath of their lives.”
“A tyrannical dictator reincarnated in a cat’s body lives here tended to by the unpaid worker it calls ‘Human.'”

Imagine walking up to someone’s door for your first date or selling cookies door-to-door as a kid. Figuring out the people inside before they open the door.

What if people falsely advertised the residents inside?

I have more thoughts, but this is quickly becoming the Procrastination Time and I finally have a good rhythm going with the book, so! If anyone’s moved to share thoughts about Descriptive Door Land, feel free to do so. 🙂


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