After getting settled in the room and trying to coordinate with people on the computer with IM and e-mail, I met up with Bryan and we headed out to explore Shinjuku. This won’t be the last time I say it, but trying to plan things with people in Japan without a cell phone is one of the biggest hassles ever. You’re usually out for the entire day or night without coming home to use a computer, so cell phones make communication not only convenient, but possible.
We met up with Yuji at the Shinjuku East exit, after we waited at the East-South Exit for about 15 minutes. We’ve both been out of kanji-reading practice, so I say that mistake wasn’t really our fault. Anyway, we goofed around Shinjuku and Kabukicho a bit, which of course is the red-light district in Japan. That’s what it’s famous for. I totally forgot all about what is what in Shinjuku, so it wasn’t until we were already on our way that I realized Yuji had made us meet there, haha. We grabbed food, my first meal after coming back to Japan, at Yoshinoya, and oh man was it delicious. I think US beef is legal in Japan again, but they still don’t have just regular gyuudon. They had gyuuyakinikudon, which is pretty much the same though, so I had it and it was delicious. We went back to the station to meet up with Sunny and Joel. No one else really made it. Yuji ended up having to go back to his work, since he apparently kept the key to the entire building of where he worked. His boss was pissed. But either way, the 4 IES alumni walked around and we just decided to go into some bar to hang out since Joel had to catch a 2 hour train back to the other side of Chiba. We ended up going into some place downstairs in a building called the Hibiya Bar, which ended up being way swankier than what we were looking for. I guess it was just kind of fake nice, because there wasn’t much in it, and not a lot of customers either. The waitress seemed to be waaaaay to excited about this “invisible ink pen” that the used to write on a coaster. The pen had a light on it that let you see the message, and she was seriously about to pee her pants she was giggling so much. I guess she thought invisible ink pens were something gaijin never have. Well she’s wrong, since after paying 1500 yen to just sit and have 1 drink in addition to the mandatory appetizer Japanese bars love making you pay for, I stole her invisible ink pen. Oops.
After Joel and Sunny left, me and Bryan figured Yuji wasn’t coming back so we went to go walk around Kabukicho. We had no intentions of going to anywhere sleazy, but Bryan had never walked through it at night so we decided to see what was going on. This turned into us looking at buildings and laughing, at stuff like the building appropriately labeled “Crab.” The Nigerian street pimps were also out in full force. I think we had at least 5 approach us just as we walked around the street. The best part about these guys is that you can mess with them and they’re pretty harmless seeming, although I’m sure they’ve got ties to the yakuza who run these sorts of establishments. The last one we talked to approached us near an intersection and was like “Hey brothers! Final answer! I am the problem solver!” He was trying to get us to go to his bar, which was 10000 yen for an hour, all you can drink and all you can touch. Classy joint, right? Well since he liked us so much he was willing to cut the price down. All you can touch, you say? Yes, I asked him what you were all thinking. “Can you touch the girls ears?” and then Bryan asked if we could stick our fingers up their noses. I don’t think the Nigerian guy had any idea what we were talking about, but he probably assumed it was something more sexual than it was, and was just like “yeah, yeah, all you want!” You mean we can pick this girls nose all we want? Oh man that’s great. We asked him to wait at that intersection for 20 minutes while we went across the street to eat. He actually started following us across the street! Somewhere in there he asked where we were from, and Bryan said Germany. I wanted to see how far this guy was going to follow us in hopes of saving his commission, but when we were almost across the double street intersection, Bryan told him to buzz off. Fun times, messing with street pimps.
On the way back, we stopped in several arcades, the best find of which was an arcade version of Mario Kart! I’d never seen anything like it, it was great. Like the racing games you see in arcades, but it had awesome Mario Kart graphics, characters from Pac-Man, a camera on top to put your face in the game, and a big “ITEM” button on the middle of the steering wheel. This is what Mario Kart should always be like.
That was the end of the night. I got back to the hotel and was so tired, I went almost immediately to sleep. I’ll write the entry for Day 2 (today, Wednesday) later tonight. Now you’re all caught up on my Tokyo trip. I’m sorry these are so long, I guess I’m in writing mode.