I was asked to be “Chief of Police for One Day” before leaving for my winter vacation. The date was set for January 9th – a few days after my scheduled return to Japan. I considered how I might be feeling after spending the holidays at home and decided a unique adventure (like being the King of Police) would rejuvenate my spirits after returning from the States.
On January 8th I was asked to meet with the real Chief of Police and discuss my hopes as Chief of Police for One Day. I told him I’d like to drive a police car and pretend to arrest someone. He declined both requests, instead handing me a piece of paper and asking that I read it for a few local news crews. It was a hyakutoban message – “110 Message”. 110 is the emergency number for the Police Deptartment. The message was simple and short, and I anticipated no major issues in reading it aloud. I also was fitted with a woman’s police uniform – including pants, undershirt, jacket, necktie (first time!), hat, and all the necessary chiefly decorations. I felt frighteningly powerful in that get-up.
The next day I arrived at the Police Deptartment bright and early, ready for my big debut. I dressed myself as Chief of Police, greeted all of the other police officers in the building with a salute, and was chauffeured to the local market to deliver my message. Upon arriving I was greeted by Mikopi-kun – the mascot for the Shimane Police. Notice his magatama necklace – Shimane’s famous carved stone. The name Mikopi is a portmanteau – referencing Shimane’s most recognized shinto god Okuninushi no Mikoto, and pi serving as shorthand for the police.
From that moment on all things blurred together – reading the message, taking countless photos, being interviewed, sitting in the police car momentarily, handing out gifts, taking a computerized driving test (I failed), and attempting to walk a straight line while wearing yopparai megane – drunk goggles.
I finished the event with a big bowl of free inoshishijiru (wild boar soup). I then returned to the Police Station, changed back into civilian’s clothes and was about to head home when the real Chief asked if I’d like to join a drinking party with the rest of the Police Deptartment that evening.
Of course I would.
And without sharing too many details, I can tell you it was as ridiculous as you can imagine a drinking party would be with just myself and fifteen local police officers…
I appeared in two newspapers the next week, and am currently featured on the Shimane Chuo High School website.