Walking home the other night, I glanced furtively over my shoulder and clocked the notorious tattoo-enforcement police heading in my direction. I ducked into a nearby konbini and cursed that bad decision inked onto my forearm in the 1990s.

Ah, the '90s, when all we had to worry about was a stagnant economy and bad music. And when television stations were allowed to show more than just the awful late-night "legal advice that people queue up for."

As the danger passed, I cautiously resumed my walk. Upon arriving home my ankle monitoring bracelet buzzed, reminding me, as always, that it was time to stand and vehemently recite the anthem, Kimigayo. Rather than risk being sent to Kimigayo re-education school — a delicious irony for noncompliant teachers — I complied with a forced smile. At long last I sat down and couldn't help but wonder how we ended up here, in "Hashimotopia," in 2022.