Today I met Akemi again in the morning, she took me to a hotel where you can see a nice view over Shibuya although sadly the hotel ppl wouldn’t let us go right to the top floor. Random button pressing allowed us to get to one almost at the top though. Most of them were locked down so that only people with room keys could access them!!! The cheek. From the hotel the thing that sprung out at me was the rooftop half-size football pitch on an adjacent building. Lack of space dictates, I suppose.. Crazy. Afterwards she took me to her old workplace – a mall which I only discovered later caters solely for women – still, she thought I should see it! In fairness it would probably be a fairly good place to hang out on a rainy day ;)
Brunch was taken in a sushi place that had a minimum order of 7 plates (pairs of things). The food was delicious and amazingly cheap!! I felt pretty stuffed all day afterwards tho. Still, I wish such good food were so readily available so cheaply back at home.. We got kicked out in the end because there’s a time limit on how long you can stay seated in the restaurant – it’s that popular. Wow.
After iced coffees (way too hot for normal coffee this time out) I headed over to Kichijoji to meet Rena. It was a bit of a game trying to get there as my map was in Japanese, but luckily I found the right train platform, as confirmed by a nearby attendant. I was a big fan of Kichijoji – it’s a funky area with many small, traditional bars and shops. Particularly in an area called Harmonica Yokocyo. The park is also a big feature of the area with lots of perfomers scattered around it. Rena assured me that some of Japan’s musicians have started out performing here. Nearby there seemed to be quite a world influence with shops selling Thai style (hippy) clothes (reminded me quite a bit of Camden) along with very old fashioned yakitori vendors and the usual smattering of interior design stores! Seriously, if it [the vases/crockery etc] were more easily transported home I think we would have had a field day on more than one occasion!
On arrival we headed to the park and after feeding the fish for a little bit (it was war in the water) I decided it would be fun to hire a boat and go out on the lake. We were soon cruising along nicely, although it was rather thirsty work given the temperature and humidity! After teaching Rena how to row and after a few close encounters with surrounding trees/other boats/swans we headed back to shore and picked up some especially strangely flavoured ice creams. Actually I don’t think mine was that bad, but purple potato flavoured ice cream?! Weird.. Quite a bizarre aftertaste. Played frisbee on the dirt for a bit as there is by and large a complete absence of grass in Japanese parks but couldn’t last that long as it was very, very warm under the trees. We drew quite a few looks from passers by, either cuz they nearly got hit or were thinking, “what the hell are those strange people doing?” :) to cool down we went and took advantage of the air conditioning in a nearby store, aahhhh.
Later had a brief look round a few clothes stores and marvelled at the wonderful use of English on some of the t-shirts – I’d wanted to get my sis’ one for her birthday, thinking she’d appreciate it – before going to check out the Harmonica Yokocyo area mentioned above. Encountered a huge line-up of people queuing to get some kind of food – I think it was something fried but apparently it’s a speciality of that particular store and it’s always ridiculously busy! These people like their food. Can’t blame them really. We ended up first in a tiny little bar with crates for tables and barrels for seats that had a very noticable panda theme going on. Even the beer was panda beer! Then again it was called the panda bar or something like that. They were playing Jack Johnson on the stereo when we arrived and it was blissful. Another moment time forgot.
Considering we hadn’t eaten lunch we ordered a snack from the bar, however I’m not sure I was too keen on our dish of very salty, rubbery squid guts and potatoes. Maybe it’s an acquired taste.. When we left we passed a fortune teller whereupon I decided it might be cool to get my fortune read (although it would all have had to be translated, obviously), but sadly the guy was booked apart from one slot which I later missed due to being preoccupied with drinking more beer in another small, saloon type bar that was exceedingly cosy and reeked of the 60s, if I remember correctly.. I think it was something to do with the propaganda posters on the wall.. Still, the beer and conversation flowed and it was soon time to head back to central Tokyo to meet up with a huge dinner party in from Shanghai to go to the Fuji rock festival!
We arrived kind of late as I had to go back to my hotel to change first, then we couldn’t get in contact with anyone, but after hanging around in a perfume shop and remembering how much I like Davidoff’s ‘Cool Water’ on a girl we managed to get in touch from Ebisu station. By the time we arrived at the izakaya things were very much in full swing and the beer and food flowed freely! I was surprised to discover that ‘fish head’, despite looking as it sounds, was not just a fish head lumped on a plate but a huge fish head with lots of very tender meat around it. Yummy. The beginning of the end of the night came when Julien and I downed a 3 or 4 shot measure of sake, poured from a GIANT sake bottle, in one go, being the only two man (or stupid) enough to do so. Things get kind of hazier from here on, but amongst my memories of the night I also remember it being an absolute mission to find Womb, the club we were after (many drunken conversations – in Japanese – with taxi drivers and passers by in the street ensued), although we found it eventually! I had high hopes for the place as it’s pretty famous, but it was nothing like anything I might have expected. The interior is like a giant cylinder, or citadel is perhaps more appropriate, with a large circular dancefloor with 4 stories of bars going up on the side facing the DJ booth. It was pretty cool but I think everyone was probably too fucked to notice! I do remember lots of high fives being exchanged with the locals when the music kicked off though, haha.
One thing I found very strange was that people even formed a long, neat line to get drinks (from the one barman on duty). Initially I thought he was being rather rude by not serving me stood in the middle of the bar, but I guess that’s just how it is. I liked their electronic drinks menu displayed in tiny font on LCD screen at the bar though, very cool.
For some reason the guys decided we were leaving at around 3 or 3.15 to head to another club. I really have no recollection of why. We headed over to an area called Roppongi – internationally famed as the area of hedonism in Tokyo. Here we went to a club called Gaspanic, though I remember we walked in, walked around and walked out again, lol. Seemed kind of pointless. The guys then decided they were going to go home but I didn’t feel like going just then so checked out a few more places solo. I think what I saw were some of the most horrific images of wrongness/meat markets ever, with a bizarre clientele from Russian to South American, 18 to 50 or beyond. Very surreal. Still, it was an experience, even if I was mentally scarred afterwards :p