Thursday, July 22, 2010

7月24日 Day 122: Mori Tower and Golden Gai

Today, I went to Mori Tower in Roppongi with my family friends. We at kaitenzushi at Roppongi Hills which was DELICIOUS and then went to see the view from the observation deck. Sadly, there was a high risk of lightning storms, so we couldn't step out onto the famous helipad to see the most awesome view of the greater Tokyo area.

Instead, we saw this cool exhibit called "Seeing Nature" featuring all these cool pieces that had to do with seeing the environment in new ways. It's been so long since I've been to a museum, so I really enjoyed myself...

Feathers and fluff disguised as snow.

Paper mache gopher holes.

Since it's my last weekend in town, I decided to go to my favorite place in all of Tokyo, Shimokitazawa, one last time. I walked around, visited all my favorite stores indie/hippie/trendy second-hand stores, and left knowing that I will someday return.

Later that night, my dorm friends and I decided to go to Golden Gai, a cool bar district in Shinjuku. The first bar we went to was a drag queen karaoke bar. Needless to say, we enjoyed ourselves watching Japanese drag queens in green wigs drunkly slur their way through "My Way" whilst trying not to disturb the contents of their stuffed bras.

Then we went to a significantly smaller bar called Ace's. It sported a 6 seater counter and a wooden shelf full of brightly colored spirits and mixers. The bartender was a stone-faced Japanese guy in a pageboy hat who didn't know how to make a Manhattan. I got a Beefeeter on the rocks instead.

Around 3:30am, I was talking shop with the bartender for a while, getting a slightly self-satisfied "I'm-so-hip-with-my-Beefeeter" kind of buzz when I decided we should start thinking of our next destination. The other two people seated at the bar, a white girl with her Japanese boyfried, overheard this comment and immediately asked us where we wanted to go and if they could come with.

We didn't know, we wanted to see where the night was going to take us, we insisted. The girl was persistent, she kept asking, probing, interrogating (in English, but she spoke to her boyfriend in Japanese). Her boyfriend sat next to her uncomfortably as she kept at it. Finally, I said we were on a tight budget because we were students and didn't want to go anywhere expensive. She insisted on paying for our drinks at Ace's so we could accompany her to her friend's bar afterwards. She tried to pay with credit because she didn't have cash, but since it was a small bar, they only took cash. Her boyfriend paid for us all. I think the total tab was about ¥6500.

Frugal and stupid, we accepted the free drinks and proceeded to follow this crazy girl to her "friend's" bar. She started walking towards Kabuki-cho, the red light/yakuza district and we hesitantly and cautiously followed behind. While she babbled on about how she had graduated from UCLA, how she was the lead singer of some hardcore band, and how many host clubs she had been to in the past year, I tried to practice some Japanese with her boyfriend.

In the 10 minute walk from Golden Gai to Kabuki-cho, I found out that this guy was a 35-year-old film assistant for some anime studio and that this girl had picked him up at the Nerima train station that very day. It was their first date. I grew increasingly worried as we drew closer and closer to the heart of the red-light district. My friends knew where we were going and kept saying, "We should just run, let's just run for it right now... this is so weird, she's so crazy... Where are we even going?"

Hoping for the best, but preparing for the worst, we watched the girl ask a Nigerian guy for directions to "Hiro's place." The Nigerian led us to an underground entrance, the girl ran straight in with him, her boyfriend that she had just met didn't follow. Neither did we.

"I'm going home," he said.

"Why?" I asked nervously.

"Well," he said scratching the back of his head, "I've got work in the morning and don't really want to stay out that late."

"...Are we in some kind of dangerous place right now?" I quietly queried.

He looked in the direction of the underground entrance, "Well, I'm sure if she's taking you in there that it's probably safe..." he trailed off.

"...But?" I said.

"Other places around here aren't."

After explaining this conversation, my friend Alex said "Let's get the FUCK out of here!" So we ran out of Kabuki-cho, hid in a Matsuya, and then decided to walk from Shinjuku to Shibuya to kill time and catch the first train home at 5.

Definitely one of my more memorable nights here. Great way to spend a Sunday morning!

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