JIN-408 -- Catching a Kubariya with His Hand in the Mail Slot

J@pan Inc Magazine Presents:
Commentary on Japan's culture, economy and society
Issue No. 408
Wednesday March 28, 2007 TOKYO

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-- Entrepreneur Association of Tokyo - Tuesday, April 3rd --

Speaker: Chuck Wilson, Managing Director and founder of
Chuck Wilson Enterprises Inc.
Presentation Title:
'Pitfalls of the Western Entrepreneur in Japan'

This coming April, local fitness professional and media
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Date/Time: Tuesday, April 3rd 7:00 pm
Location: City Club of Tokyo - Maple Room
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Language: English
Website: http://www.ea-tokyo.com
Email: info@ea-tokyo.com


@@ VIEWPOINT: Catching a Kubariya with His Hand
in the Mail Slot

I had never seen a 'kubariya,' but I knew they existed.

For me the kubariya was an unidentified mysterious animal
(UMA) in which I fervidly believed, just as some Japanese
believe in the existence of the 'kappa,' a mischievous
water sprite with a saucerlike object on its head. It was
perhaps 10 years ago that I stumbled across a conference of
kappa researchers in a hotel in the hot spring resort of
Gero, Gifu Prefecture. And a friend witnessed a hunt
for the tsuchinoko, a fat snakelike creature, in, I
believe, Okayama Prefecture. None were bagged that day.

Although I had never seen a kubariya, I sometimes heard them
working. The mail slot snapped open, something plunked to
the bottom of the box, and the slot creaked close on its
hinges. When I opened the box, I found it stuffed with
flyers for pizza shops and condos (a conjunction perhaps
sociologists and economists can explain). I interpreted this
as evidence kubariya exist. Similarly colorful flyers
protruded from the postbox under the stairs like tabloids
and sports papers spiraling from racks in a station kiosk.

If I kept a bird, I could use the flyers to line its cage.
But I've no use for flyers. I carefully separate them from
mail and throw them in the garbage. The trouble, the cost
of the garbage bags, and the harm of the extra trash to
the environment led me to dislike kubariya.

I tired of the endless flyers pouring into the mail slot
and poking out of the mail box. I was not alone. I had heard
of measures to keep out kubariya and seen signs asking they
keep away. Finally, I could bear it no longer. I resolved
to catch a kubariya.

One evening I heard the mail slot open. I quickly got up
from my desk at the rear of the office and hurried to the
entryway. I threw open the door. A young man stood there.
I opened the back of the box and removed a flyer for a
condo. As I thrust it at him, I said, 'I don't need

He stood dead still, like a deer caught in the
headlights of a car. I saw his ill-fitting suit and
briefcase, which seemed heavy with flyers. It's also tough
being a kubariya, I thought. He was no longer an
unidentified mysterious animal; he was like me.

In spite of myself, I said, 'Thanks for your trouble.'

-- Burritt Sabin

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