October 14, 2012

The United Nations of Shibuya

The rail system here in Tokyo closes at midnight and I already had one experience darting through the streets of Roppongi to catch the last train back to Kelly's. This early closing means that most people are presented with the choice of calling it an early night or staying out until 5am when the rail opens again (option 3: Pay $100 to get a cab home). It was decided that for Taylor's last night in town, we'd go with option 2 and meet up with Catherine, some of the people we had met while swimming at the Swedish Embassy, and a whole new cast of characters.

We found them at an izakaya. There were about 14 in total, hailing from all parts of the world including Hong Kong, Italy (by way of Paris), London, Atlanta, and Stockholm. Truth is, I didn't have a chance to meet everyone, but it sounded like a few other nations were represented as well. If there was one thing we all had in common, it was that we weren't entirely sure how we all ended up there together. Some of the people were current or former employees of Gaba, which is a Japanese company that runs English language schools, some had met in clubs, and others were there for the first time and were unable to explain how they arrived.

I have spent the last 12 hours delighting in how familiar this experience was for it was almost identical to my first week at Emerson. Everyone is eager to meet everyone else and find new friends in a strange place. While you may not find your best friend in the beginning, you'll certainly meet good people who may lead to new adventures and new faces. We were all united by a common bond: at Emerson it was that we were new to college and to Boston, while in Japan it was that most of us didn't speak much Japanese and were fairly new to the country. And we were all young and eager to have a great experience.

We arrived at the restaurant just passed 11 and gobbled
gyoza and kabobs while playing an improvised and unrealized game of musical chairs. There were new people to meet so it was hard to sit in one place too long. The conversations ranged from music and comedy to job opportunities in Japan as well as explaining "YOLO" to those fortunate enough to have missed that trend.

*Please note I have not linked YOLO to an explanation, for if you also don't know it means, it's probably best to reserve that brain space for something more interesting/meaningful. Here's a suggestion.

By the time 2am rolled around, our bellies were filled and our need to dance grew strong enough to motivate the group to head to a club a few blocks away. On the way we met up with Satoru. Here's an aside worth having:

The real reason Taylor knew Catherine lived in Japan was because he saw a facebook post between her and Satoru, a friend of his from Boston who worked at one of our favorite clothing stores. In the post, they mentioned wanting to get together in Tokyo. Taylor immediately contacted them both. The world is a very, very small place. That, or everyone is on Facebook.

So we met up with Satoru and our merry band of ex-pats hit the club.

I've never been to a less douchey place in my life. That's not true, that Zumba class I once took in Boston was pretty un-douchey. But for a place that played Jungle Drum and Bass until 6am, was constructed of skull bricks, and served alcohol to drunk foreigners until they puked, it was pretty pleasant!

3am club conversations

Surprisingly elegant skull-bricks.

The crowd was half Japanese and half ex-pats. Two observations about Japanese hipster/clubbers:
     1. They dress way better than we Americans could ever imagine.
     2. They're not fantastic dancers.
So while I felt slightly self-conscious that I wasnt wearing some cable-knit, color-blocked sweater, I did feel pretty ok that I wasn't shoegazing.

The dancing was punctuated by trips outside to sit and converse with new friends. Again I was struck by the similarities between this night and my first few outings in Boston. Not sure what time it was, where I was or who exactly anyone was, but my "yak or go back" instincts kicked in and I talked and danced until the sun came up (number 12). 5am has never come so quickly.

Batman & Robin

Vowing to never let a woman come between us

Collecting the group on the way to a club

I'm not sure why Taylor and I were smelling Kaorina, but 3am will do that to you

All photos were lovingly stolen from CathMNaka Photography.