It’s a brisk winter evening. Coming out of Japanese class, we crossed the plaza beneath the tall silver arch that stretches from the keitai shop to the dilapidated tiled alcove containing a Doutor, a boba-tea shop, and a small bright toy-train jungle gym usually surrounded by a smattering of grandparents resting with their shopping while their young charges cavort on the astro-turf. More lonely a place than before now that the Tokyu Hands has closed up shop and moved down the road, we happened on two pubescent boys in navy blue short-pants middle school uniforms sharing a tentative, tender kiss. One was touching the other's hair at the side of his face, just barely. Their schoolbags were puddled around their socks, forgotten.
PDA is fairly non-existent in Japan: the most you usually get is some hetero hand-holding - and then only with young couples. And regular gayness isn't seen much, even in ultra-modern Tokyo. Though you're likely to see a flaming transvestite if you wander Shinjuku's Kabuki-cho, the sighting of non-theatrical same-sex public affection is extremely rare.
Add this to the facts that our little outpost of Machida isn't exactly the center of hipster Tokyo, and that the lovers were probably pre-teen.
I don't know those young boys, but I know that adolescent love and desire is hard enough to reckon with when you're straight. With all the other factors compounding the difficulty, we felt as though we had stumbled across something special happening.
Hang tough, young men.