I stop for lunch at a bakery near Daitokuji Temple. It's mid-afternoon and I'm the only customer. Automatically, the three girls behind the counter assign themselves a different role: one takes my money, another individually wraps my three pieces of bread, the third stands to the side, holding open a carrier bag.
It's already too late by the time I remember I don't need a bag. The two buns have been placed in transparent plastic, sealed at the top with shop-branded sellotape. My garlic baguette is wrapped as carefully as a Christmas present, in a mock-up of an old French newspaper, dyed brown, with headlines attacking the policies of Lionel Jospin. I'm handed a receipt for 372 yen, all three bow, and there's a chorus of arigatou gozaimashita as I open the door. On the pavement outside, it takes me two minutes of fumbling before I can start to eat.