From Chapter 6 / The Encounter

An unoiled, grating sound roused me as the glass door to the dressing room slid open. This time my eyes were glued. Three burly, tattooed hulks swaggered single-file into the bathing area, like me, making no attempt to hide what they had. Gangsters? It can’t be. But having had tattoos pointed out by bathers in Sapporo, I recognized the trademark of the yakuza[1]. The shock was that Obama had a mob. The other men moved to the far end of the row of faucets or left the tubs to dry off.

The hulk in the lead was impossible to miss. His entire body was covered with ornate designs, his back a panorama of blacks, reds, blues and greens. Powerful arms exploded out of bulging, muscled shoulders. A potbelly to rival a sumo wrestler, and even that looked like solid muscle. The other two appeared unpleasant; this one was dangerous. He strode to one of the places vacated by the old men and dropped down onto the low plastic seat like a feudal lord. The two subordinates lathered their washcloths and began scrubbing his back, where a fierce samurai triumphantly rested one foot on the body of a slain dragon. One hand brandished a sword dripping blood, the other holding the severed dragon’s head skyward as thunderbolts crashed from the heavens. Black fan-shaped patterns extended down his arms and thighs. From the back, he didn’t look naked at all.