Way back in early July my sister came to Japan for a visit. I told her to prepare for an adventure, and I think I delivered.
I took the night bus to Tokyo on Friday, which gets to Tokyo at six in the morning. I think this is my favorite time to be there, when the city is just waking up and yawning: the quiet before the morning rush inundates the streets and trains with people on their way to work. I usually end up just wandering around and people-watching. I found a random amateur rock festival in Hibiya park, which was funny. There were about twelve people watching, and every song ended with a thud. I tried to give them a little "woo," but it didn't help much. Maybe everybody was off watching Björk, which I didn't hear about until my father told me a week after the fact, dj'öh.
Around two I went to the station to wait for Claire's call. When I hadn't heard from her by four I was getting worried, but finally she called from the station. Then we set off to find the hotel.
Our reservation was for the Hotel New Otani Inn, so we set off to the hoterunyuuootani, which I had found on the map. My heart sank when I saw the place at which I thought I had made a reservation, a dirty shank of concrete, left over like so many other relics of the 80s economic boom. I had a bad feeling as we walked in the front doors, which might have been caused by the dark, swirling carpet under our feet, or the sickly yellow lights above our heads. The bellhops took our luggage and gently guided us to the front desk, making us feel uncomfortable in that special way that only overly-polite Japanese bellhops are trained in. After about twenty minutes of checking and rechecking we finally figured out that we did have a reservation, but at the hoterunyuuootaniin, a completely different place, on the other side of town. Luckily, the ... Inn was more our pace, and much more convenient to the main train line.
We took turns showering and napping, and then Daishi called me from the hotel lobby. We had plans to go out and see the big city at night. First on the adgenda was a *monjayaki* place in a section of town that is famous for it. Monjayaki is like Tokyo's version of okonomiyaki,* a big, savory pancake that is made in front of you and eaten from the pan. It was pretty good, and vegan, so Claire even tried a little bit. I picked on Claire for not eating more of the non-animal things that I managed to find for her, but she did try more than last year, I guess. Daishi and Akiyo gave us real beetle keychains (not vegan, but sufficiently quirky) as welcome-to-Tokyo presents. Too nice.
Claire was almost falling asleep onto the griddle, so she opted to go back to the hotel instead of the clubs that they had picked out for us. The first place was a little hole-in-the-wall, but the entrance was off of a quite path on the way to a shrine, so I thought that was pretty cool. The DJ was good, and I met a bunch of Daishi's small film friends. The event was a live acoustic set from someone that used to be in a big-time group but had since gone solo.
After that place we hopped in Daishi's (father's) Beemer and headed to the next place: Ageha @ Studio Coast. This is apparently the newest, biggest, best club in Tokyo. It's not my scene, but it was definitely an interesting experience. He has a few friends that work there, that got on the guest list, which meant we got to breeze past the line of "normal" club-goers, and not pay to get in. The first room was the "Water Bar," where five go-go girls were coming out to do their little show. D. pointed out the two go-go girls that used to be, ahem, go-go boys... I couldn't see their faces under the huge afro wigs, but I took his word for it.
The next room was electronic, with massive mobile light systems, video screens, and a huge floor. I thought it was cute how the dancers were still giving each other at least two feet of space. It may be the best, but it is still Japan.
We had a little talk with one of his friends that was working as a rollergirl, and she told me she had been wearing the skates for ten years. Another of his friends hooked up with with recycled VIP bracelets, so we went to check out the VIP beach next to the reggae dance floor. Got some udon noodles and a seven-hundred yen beer, and looked out over the water at the Tokyo lights. Yep... definitely not my scene, but good for a laugh.
Crashed at the hotel as the sun was rising. The next day Claire and I did the Tokyo tour, then Monday it was off to Ogasawara! More will come when/if I find time to write...