Subject: Tokyo- the more I learn, the more I love...........
Last night we went out with Nels, a Seattle native who I met at Skadden who is spending his year away from Skadden living in Tokyo in a 200 square foot rabbit hole. Supposedly it fits his needs. Interesting. I saw it today, it:s what you would call cozy but according to Nels he can have 4 people over for dinner. I:d love to see that. All of his furniture folds up- the chairs, the table, the bed, etc... but I just don:t think I could handle living in a place the size of my closet. Different strokes for different folks I guess.
Ok so as interesting as Tokyo is without speaking or reading the language, our horizons expanded infinitely last night when we got to spend an evening with someone fluent in Japanese (Nels). We first went to a bar that was about 100 square feet and held the contents of the bartenders life in one little space. There were six seats in the bar and space for a midget couch, a dart board, a small fish tank, a small turtle in a small cage (turtle was about two inches long and the cutest thing- bartender said he won the turtle at a fair and heard turtles were good luck for your bar), a TV, a toaster oven, a skillet to grill appetizers, alcohol, tons of toys including hot wheels, a giraffe gun, Super Mario Brothers figures Mario and Luigi, etc...
We spent a few hours talking through Nels to the bartender and other patrons, watching Japan:s version of the show the Bachelor (well the Bachelor on roids because in this version, instead of eliminating a group of ladies over a few months, this show eliminates the ladies over 40 minutes and at the end of the show one of the lucky ladies marries the bachelor who she knows nothing more about than the fact that he is a so-so Rocks, Paper, Scissors player and what career path he:s on and his salary). At the end of the show the two sign a marriage contract. Interesting. Apparently once the Japanese in Tokyo turn 30ish, if they are single it:s not uncommon to do this outside of a reality TV show. (by *this* I mean find a mate through a dating service of sorts where you see a picture and know how much money they make per year and where they are employed).
After the bar we headed down the street only to find some more interesting activities. In big Japanese cities you can pay between three and nine dollars an hour to go into a store where you play with cats and kittens. Ummm ok. And these stores are conveniently located next to where all the fun bars are in Shinjuku and other areas of the city so I guess that means you can make a night of getting drunk and playing with cats. WHY? I just don:t get it. Apparently most people here don:t have cats in their apartments so this is a way to get a quick kitty fix. I just have to go see this before we leave- I tried to go last night but Nels said the place we walked by was charging 9 bucks an hour and was really overpriced, according to Nels, in other neighborhoods we would be able to get our fix for only 3 bucks an hour.
So after a few drinks and browsing cat cafes, dungeon and dragon themed restaurants, karaoke bars, the red light district and cafes where ladies pay men about 50 big ones an hour to sit down and hang with them and kiss their butt we decided to go eat at a 1915 through 1980:s shogun style Japanese restaurant/variety store/random place that looked like an interesting establishment to get a quick bite.
So we walk into this restaurant or whatever you want to call it. This is Japan;s version of Mels diner but it:s just out of control. First we walk in and we see the themed stuff- old style life size pig figurines, etc... We are greeted by the host who walks us through a toy store, then a candy store with themed candy and toys that are suppose to remind the patrons of their childhood (or their parents or grandparents childhood). I have Nels ask her what her favorite candy is and she hands us a packet of rice cakes with plum jam to take to our table. She then tells us that the restaurant also sells vegetables and cigarettes and she will be leading us to a private booth. OK so we are here to eat, if I wanted candy I would stop by 7-11, if I wanted toys I would go to a toy store, but why the heck would I want to buy an ear or two of corn? Not sure but I guess there are some Japanese folks who want it all in one place at one time.
Man I love them!
Finally we walk down this really cool themed hallway into our private booth which was suppose to be an electronics store. We sit down, tap the buzzer on our table and a waiter comes to take our order. After I order I go to use the loo. I had taken off my shoes before I sat down in the booth and was told that I should use the pair of slippers to go to the restroom instead of putting my shoes back on. This struck me as a bit odd but I thought hey at least I feel at home here. The bathroom wasn:t quite as crazy as some of the other ones I:d seen, the toilet seat didn:t open automatically when I opened the stall door but whatever at least the bathroom had a basket of toothbrushes and toothpaste. Why? I have no freaking idea. Maybe the bathroom was suppose to be dentist themed, it wouldn:t have surprised me at that point. The entire restaurant was so bizarre I felt like the author of Alice and Wonderland who apparently did acid before he wrote the book also designed the restaurant. So I brushed my teeth just because I could. My breath was ok but I just figured- WHEN IN ROME.
Moving along to another fun topic- 7-11 and AM PM, too much good stuff. Why is 7-11 in every other country just so cool? I don:t know but I feel like I could make an evening out of sampling the food and treats in there and just checking out all the random stuff they have in there. Brett ate lunch there today and my friend Mike told me a story about when he was living in Japan and went to 7-11 on New Years Eve. Apparently they were in the process of throwing out everything in the store from the previous year and so Mike and his friend asked if they could have everything that wasn:t spoiled and they said sure. He said he had enough food to last him for the year. Again- I just really don:t get it. I guess they just take Spring Cleaning to the next level. All day I keep thinking about this story and cracking up.
Today I bought a pair of 5 finger socks. They:re blue and say Chu Chu on the big toe. I just wanted to see how much Brett loves me so I put them on and threw on some flip flops over them and told Brett I was ready to hit up the next activity. He said he refused to be seen with me in public with the toe socks. Oh well....
What:s next on our agenda- searching for Sumo wrestlers (apparently in addition to watching them fight you can join them for a meal which I:m sure would be fun), the Ninja restaurant for dinner, visiting a maid cafe where all the waitresses are dressed as french maids, checking out an Internet cafe (apparently 50,000 Japanese live in Internet cafes to save money on rent. According to Nels, you can sleep there for about five to fifteen bucks a night and they have everything you need. I:m sure they don:t have everything I need but who cares). Where else in the world do people sleep in web cafes just for fun? Weird but again after I saw the kitty cafe nothing really surprises me.
I could spend a year here, going to a different oddball venue and sampling the local culture. It:s just too much fun.