Saturday, July 16, 2005


On the Hikari Super-Express Shinkansen to Kyoto, Japan
Special Guest Blogger - Juan N.

Wow. Yesterday took it out of me.

I spent the first part of yesterday following Jason and Mike doing administrative things. Sending packages out of the Central Tokyo Post Office. Making hotel reservations for Fuji-san at a Tourist Information Center.

We met up with Allan at Tokyo Station. I don't know if you all know him, I personally met him and his lovely wife Larissa, who has a killer accent, in New York.

The first order of business was the annual light festival at Yasakuni Shrine. I had no idea at first, but that's the controversial shrine Japan has for war dead. Controversial because some of those dead are convicted war criminals. And the prime minister makes annual pilgrimages to the place, much to the chagrin of China and Korea.

Despite the context, the festival was wonderful. The grounds were decorated with what somebody told me were 29,000 lanterns. It was packed with people, lots in traditional garb. There was a dancing demonstration, where folks from the very audience joined in. Drunken revelry. And the food. Oh. My. God. There were rows and rows of booths selling all sorts of grub. And I had a blast sampling stuff, some of which I bearly grasped the composition of. I had a meat stick with onions and scallions, this sort of cabbage pancake, a cool slice of pineapple, and a chocolate covered banana.

Yeah, with the significant language barrier, and the fact that I'm not in Japan usually, means I have put the vegetarianism on hold. Why limit yourself in the midst of exotic tastes?

After the festival we spent time in a tiny, hole-in-the-wall bar called Gaspanic, in the heart of Shinjuku. I had me some Japanese Corona. Yeah, like with the limes. And now with katakana! A 50-odd year-old salaryman was in the midst of the dancers, cooling himself off with a hand-held fan and enjoying Asahi no biru from a straw. And grooving to the 90s hiphop with the best of them.

We waited for Johnny Cocks and his girlfriend outside. Once we met up, and greetings were exchanged, we set off looking for Club Womb.

Well, first he tried his darndest to get us in this Maniac Love Club. The keisatsu forced the place to close early, and the guy at the door wanted 3000 yen from each of us to partake in the remaining 30 minutes. Works out to a dollar a minute. No thanks.

Yeah, after that we ended up in Club Womb. And we all partied until the Sun came up. I asked the bar girl for a Vodka Red Bull (I was tired), only after she assured me they did in fact have Red Bull. To her, Red Bull means grapefruit juice. So yeah, I had me lots of those, danced me lots of "aggressive techno", and it was great. The lasers were amazing. I was taking picture after picture when a bouncer noticed and forced me to delete them from my camera. Halfway through, when I got the last ounce of dance out of me, I was passing out from exhaustion.

Turns out the club is smack dab in the middle of a bunch of Love Hotels, and it was interesting, if a bit unsettling, to have hawkers asking me if I wanted sex with young girls. Uh, no thanks. Irimasen.

After the longest day, we shambled into our Tokyo palace, all bleary-eyed. Mike shouted Fuck! at the sight of an email he just got. And like he already mentioned, it turned out the wife of the actual tenant of the place was returning that very day, and wanted all us freeloaders out.

Jason and Mike decided to leave Tokyo early and spend extra time in Kyoto. Jason hooked us all up with tentative reservations at a local hotel.

And sorry Mike I ate your muffin. I was hungry!


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