I, The Noodle Hawker
Look at the youth of Osaka today. Dreamless, without ambition or purpose. Man? Woman? I can no longer tell which is which. Ethertainment has stolen their identity, killed their imagination, robbed them of their primal urge. They no longer hunger for life or procreate with the passion that we once did.
That is why I, the Noodle Hawker from south Osaka, must begin this story. To teach you of what we have lost.
Let us return to the year 2050, when the second Great Hanshin Earthquake was not three years gone and our beloved Osaka lay bankrupt, bled dry by the greedy, adrift without leadership or law and order.
The privileged and powerful lived on floating islands in the bay, solar-powered with saltwater converters and indoor gardens, while their Osaka brothers and sisters queued in the streets for cesium-free water and brown rice from China.
Tokyo did not care. It had its own problems. The paddylands of the Kanto plains were poisoned. A farmed tuna cost one ton of white rice. The yen was worthless. The Chinese renmimbi everywhere. Our public services hardly functioned. Public transport? Ha! Like our morale, it hung by a thread, unreliable and broken. People relied on themselves. Bicycles returned to the streets.
But a city without leaders is a city of opportunity. Gangs had risen from the Earthquake’s rubble, scavenging whatever they could and whoever they could—dirty cops included—to build power and wealth.
Rising fastest of all was a hovertrain driver’s son named Bochan Baba. Young, fat and clever, he operated from an old bathhouse in south Osaka. He foresaw the future and understood that “from little things, big things grow.”
In the summer of 2050, his network of ruffians and thieves began to sweep the city, stealing the one thing most valued by the common people--bicycles. Crooked cargo ship captains sailed them by the thousands throughout the Tohoku and Satsuma territories where Baba’s goons sold them off.
Profit lay in numbers and Baba, like his girth, did nothing by small measure.
He was young, ambitious and he had a dream. Someday he would be king of Osaka.
This would be a dull story if it not for one thing. Or, should I say, one man. A bicycle mechanic named Axyl Gris. Remember that name. For this son of a Brazilian migrant worker, who lived on a manmade island beyond Osaka repairing the bicycles of the rich, would change the balance of power forever.
He is gone now, to where no-one knows, but the island is still there. Maybe you’ve heard of it.
Turn off your Etherwave and lend me your ear. Let the old Noodle Hawker tell you a story of true Japanese spirit.