A Parisian poet early in the 20th century was known to walk a lobster in the park, on a blue ribbon. The surrealist Guillaume Apollinaire wrote that the poet, whose name was Gérard de Nerval, said, I have affection for lobsters. They are tranquil, serious and they know the secrets of the sea.

Pig moving curve

This is in contrast to the pig in Asakusa on this horse-racing Saturday. The pig won’t tell the secrets it knows, and it runs like a rugby forward once it gets a mind to.

Before this happens, people ask if they can touch it, and take pictures. The owner shrugs, If you must, he seems to say. He is not talkative. How long have you had it? Two years. Did you dye its hair? Yes. What’s its name? Tonkatsu.

Pig main

Once, as Tonkatsu persists in snuffling the ground unsociably, the owner lifts its torso by placing his foot under it, and attempts to turn it around. Oi, he says. People want photos. The pig grunts unco-operatively through its tar-yellow, curved teeth.

Then all of a sudden it explodes into action, its hooves scraping and clattering to get traction on the pavement. Off sprints Tonkatsu, up toward the beef and chicken place! It’s all the owner can do to hold on.

Pig running away2