Perhaps it was the jisaboke (時差ぼけ, jetlag) or a lasagna-induced food coma, but it took time for my mind to register the scene before my eyes — a cosplaying gladiator speaking Japanese in front of the Coliseum in Rome. The Italian sentry — garbed in a feathered helmet, crimson cape and body armor, and wielding a shield and sword — paraded up to my Japanese friends and energetically offered, "Shashin totte agemasu yo!"(「写真 撮ってあげますよ!」 "I insist on taking a photo for you!").

Clearly no amateur, the cosplayer directed the shoot, swinging his sword like a maestro's baton: "Mō sukoshi chikaku ni! Un, un"(「もう少し近くに!うん、うん。」 "A little closer! That's it").

Finally, he lifted the dejikame (デジカメ, digital camera), said "bueno" ("good") and then: "Ōkei Torimāsu yo! Jyā, ichi tasu ichi wa?" (オーケー。撮りまーすよ!じゃあ、1+1は?」 "OK. I'm ready to take it. So . . . what is one plus one?").