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Land of the Rising Mickey
Page 1 of 2

by Marc Borrelli (archives)
January 5, 2001
Experience a day in the life of construction worker "Yamata Taro".

Another Day, Another Yen

The person relating his experiences in this article doesn't exist. Essentially, he's a number of people rolled into one. The name "Yamata Taro" is generic, much like "John Smith" is in America. His story, on the other hand, is real and very typical.

Part 1
My name is Yamata Taro (family name first, given name second). I'm twenty-three years old, I live in Chiba Prefecture, Japan... and I'm tired. I woke up at 6:30am today, just like I do every day except Sundays. That is, when some deadline doesn't have me working on Sundays, too. I smoked a couple of Mild Sevens (the most popular brand of cigarettes in Japan), laid on my futon, and watched the weather report on Fuji TV. They said that today was going to be sunny - again! It's been so sunny lately. Why won't it rain?!! We usually don't have to work when it rains. I could really use an extra day off.

At 6:50am I threw on some clothes and left my second floor, six tatami (110 sq.ft.) aparto (apartment) in Chiba. At the beginning of my ten minute walk to Ichikawa Station I stopped at a couple of zido hanbaiki (vending machines) and bought a $1.10 six ounce can of hot Silver Fire (canned coffee - tasty stuff) and a $2.30 pack of Mild Sevens.

The pretty girls were really out today. It's nice to see the Yomamba (girls who bleach their hair blonde, obsessively bake themselves under sunlamps, and wear heavy make-up) craze is finally starting to die off, or at least they're toning it down a little.

When I arrived at the train station I noticed the new issue of my favorite magazine, "Magazine", at Kiosk. It's Wednesday already?! I was so tired that I didn't even realize the day of the week! How could I not buy the new issue of Magazine?? It would be so cool to have it to read on the train. But there were three people already in line. I might miss my train! But I had to have it. I got in line. Wouldn't you know... just as I paid for the magazine my train pulled into the station! I inserted my ticket into the turnstile, ran up the stairs... and made it to the platform just as the doors closed!!! Now this isn't the Yamanote Line where the trains come every three minutes. It's the Sobu Line and I had to wait five minutes before the next train showed up! Yes, I know... It was very annoying.

After about ten minutes on that train it was time to transfer to the Musashino Line at Nishi Funabashi Station. Fifteen minutes later I was at Maihama Station, directly across from the entrance to Tokyo Disneyland and a short walk to the shuttle bus that goes to our construction site. There's still a lot I don't know about where I work, but I do know that it will be a new theme park called DisneySea.

When my company told me that the next project I'd be working on was a theme park I was kind of surprised. I'm just some cement guy who's used to working on apartment and office buildings. I though it sounded interesting, but, until I saw it that the scale of this project, I had no idea. Not only that, I've never seen detail like this. There are crews everywhere in this place spending days or even weeks on things that very few, if (literally) any people will see. And everything is real - iron, glass, wood... I've been to Tokyo Disneyland a few times and there's nothing like this whole place in there, even in Critter Country. Basically all my coworkers think the effort they're going to is a stupid waste of time and money, but I think it's pretty cool.

OK, it's going to be a really nice park, but I was talking about me. (just kidding)

Unfortunately, that shuttle that I mentioned isn't very practical. There really aren't enough busses. It's cold this time of year and, as always, it's windy. Standing out in the weather for about fifteen minutes waiting in line for a bus doesn't make much sense to me. It takes the same amount of time to walk to the site and then, at least I'm moving.

I got to the site at 7:40 and the first thing I did, just like every day, was show my ID card to the security guard at the entrance. Then it was a quick walk over to the common area (near the north end of Hotel MiraCosta) where I inserted my ID into the electronic time clock. To my surprise it actually worked and I didn't have to manually sign in. I used the toilet and bought a riceball at the conbini (convenience store) . I usually buy cup ramen, but I missed that train so I didn't have time to wait the three minutes for the ramen to cook. I had to hurry. It was only fifteen minutes before the start of Radio Exercises.

Next it was over to my company's area. Like the many other companies contracted to work on this project, we have our own little room where we can store our work clothes overnight and change into them at the beginning of the day. The room is only about 100 sq. ft. and it gets really crowded during the frenzy of everybody changing. I quickly put on my work clothes. Like I said before, it's cold this time of year. I'm wearing thermal underwear under my pants, a T-shirt, a regular long-sleeved shirt, a sweatshirt, and a wind breaker. On especially cold days I stick a couple of Kairo (three by four inch disposable chemical heat pads with adhesive on one side) to the front and back of my T-shirt. On days when I'm working up on scaffolding or something I put on a safety harness, but I won't be today, so I just grabbed my helmet and I was out of there.

It was 7:53 and I still needed to go all the way across the site for Radio Exercises. I had to run part of the way to make it there on time (I've never been late.). The DisneySea project is divided into four areas and I work in Area 3. Among other things, it has S.S. Columbia, the pirate galleon Renaissance, the Fortress, and Cape Cod. I'm not working on any of those things, though. The thing I'm working on is so big it spills out of Area 4 into Area 3. My worksite is part of Mysterious Island. I make lava.

DisneySea's four areas are almost completely independent of each other. What I mean is, each area goes about it's business like the other three areas don't even exist. Everything I've mentioned here so far and more is duplicated in each of the other areas. Actually, my area is so big it's divided into two itself. I think it's a smart idea. This project is huge! It's far and away the biggest thing I've ever worked on and probably it's the biggest thing I ever will. Breaking it up is the only way to keep a handle on it all.

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