2012-05-27 - 4:12 p.m.
Jet lag had its way with me. I was sipping the frosty glass of wine, enjoying the skyline, and then, quite suddenly, 240 (?) minutes had passed and the machine was beeping that my clothes were dry. For yes, in Japan, the clothes washer and the clothes dryer are the same machine. A cold-hearted skeptic had posted on Trip Advisor that the clothes were still wet, but I am pleased to report that the cold-hearted skeptic was wrong. My clothes were dry, I pulled them out of the machine to stop the beeping, and then apparently I crawled to bed where I slept like a stone for several more hours. Then, finally, I awoke to enjoy my frosty glass of wine and the Tokyo skyline by night. Most impressive.
Back to sleep with the curtains open. I suppose I fell asleep again enjoying the skyline. I awoke at around 4 A.M. thanks to -- would you believe it? -- the sun was coming up. I tried to sleep a bit more, but I'd caught a full 8 hours here and there, plus another couple of hours of low level snoozing whilst doing laundry or watching the skies, so eventually I stumbled out of bed for good to check out the included breakfast. Trip Advisor had warned that if you didn't get there early, all the breakfast would be eaten, but I had no worries since I was down there eating within 15 minutes of the doors opening.
Embarrassed to tell the tale of Hanazono-Jinga Shrine. Let's just say that it took me over an hour to make what my instructions described as a 7 minute walk. An older Japanese man finally took me in hand and literally walked me over to the shrine. Our timing was perfect, because I arrived moments before the ceremony began. I have no idea what the ceremony was about, but it involved dozens of men (and one woman) bringing forward two huge altars made of gold. They were staggering under the weight of the gold, and one guy (aged maybe 25 or 26) had sweat running down his face from the effort. There was a theme of a phoenix rising on one of the altars, and no doubt it's all highly auspicious and meritorious.
While lost, I stumbled about Kabichiko awhile and saw any number of girls in schoolgirl uniforms -- some actual schoolgirls and some TVs. A bit early in the morning for it, but whatever. It's Tokyo time.
I then headed over to the Meiji Jinga (Meiji Shrine) and took quite a long stroll all around the shrine and the forest. The irises were not yet in bloom -- it's my year to get skunked on irises -- but the Jungle Crows were paired up and discussing everything that happened in the park in loud voices. Great close views of Japanese Pygmy Woodpecker and Japanese White-Eyes. Decent views of the Bulbul and the Great Tit. No Azure-Winged Magpies. I'm only a little bitter.
I was light-headed from hunger or, perhaps, from aftershocks too minor to detect. In any case, I felt a wave of weirdness, so I left the park and drifted into Harajuku, into the shopping area where no less authority than the Tokyo Metropolitan Government tourist bureau advises me is well-liked by "young ladies about 20 years of age." If by about 20, you mean 13, OK. I was sorting by food at first, and I just went to the first place I saw that had wine with the food, a crypto-Italian joint where I had a distinctly fishy-flavored spaghetti with meat sauce and a small airplane sized bottle of Italian red wine. Thus refreshed, I stumbled onto the street of jailbait.
Here I saw my first furry. Is that what they're called? Spock ears and a tail, and I guess he was some kind of animal, or maybe a space alien with ears and a tail. A space alien into leather and stainless steel. Here too were the dolls. They have a name, but I've forgotten what it is, and I call them Little Bo Peep. Some of them haven't lost their sheep but instead have stuffed animals pinned to their backs. For some of them, it seems that it's just a costume, but at least one of them seemed to be looking for business. Annoyingly, a second tier Little Bo Peep sees me looking, scouts me back, and decides I'm not worth cruising. Which is the correct read, and it's a nuisance to beat people off who want to sell me their, erm, services, and yet one's ego is hurt by being read so accurately in such a few seconds. Heh. I know how many seconds since I saw her get off the train, notice me, and do the look-back. Things we learned from poker we were better off not knowing.
Did I mention that I got hustled by a monk? Jeez Louise, I'm from New Orleans and I get hustled by a monk. I broke my sunglasses somewhere down the line, so I'm strolling about and people can meet my eyes and this monk approaches me and promises to pray for peace for me and blah de blah and somehow he ends up charging me the small fee of 1,000 yen. I should have probably told him to go to hell, but maybe he really is a monk and will pray for me, and, in any case, if he has the gonads to perform that hustle, I figure he's earned the money. Be that as it may, to avoid making any more misfortunate eye contact, I went into the everything's 315 yen store and got a new pair of sunglasses. Now I could eye all the weirdos and freaks of Harajuku without making eye contact with anybody, but yikes. As I'm strolling along, learning the secrets of how (since tattoos are socially unacceptable) the girls can buy stockings that give the appearance of tattoos on nude legs, then I suddenly look over and the only other white person on the whole street of about 500 million people (mostly teen and tween girls) is this creepy white dude of about my age. Creepy, why? Because he's hanging back in a corner with an 800 millimeter lens photographing the legs of the 13 year olds, that's why. Like I'm not taking pictures? So...anyway, I felt pretty dirty and I decided it was time to leave the street of jailbait for a more wholesome climate. But not before I stopped in the "everything's 100 yen" store to buy some cheap socks.
I wanted to change clothes and pick up my hostess gift at my hotel so I headed back there and made the mistake of asking about the internet access. People in Japan are too polite to say "no" so I got caught in this endless loop of "we're gonna figure this out any minute now," and I was actually starting to get worried about how much time I was wasting on what was meant to be a quickie 5 minute Diaryland post. Finally, I made up some bullshit about how I just remembered that it wasn't important to do this just yet, and I excused myself and wham-oo. I go upstairs and it's all fixed, at least for the few moments needed to leave the last post.
OK, here's more stupid stuff Peachfront does. I know that I get easily confused, so I decided to scout out the meet-up place for the dinner in plenty of time. As it happened, I went directly there, with 45 minutes to spare. Did I just say "Good" and go into the nearest club to order a friendly adult beverage and wait? Oh NOOOOOOO. You already know the answer. I said to myself, said I, OK, I know where this is, I'll just slip back into Kabuchiko which is right nearby and see if I can photograph some more freaks without getting arrested. You know where this is going. I have convinced myself that I might have actually known where I was and not gotten lost until I saw this lovely young man passed out on the street and I walked on by because I didn't want to get involved. You never see anybody who looks like that passed out on the street in Vegas or New Orleans and, honestly, I don't care if it is Japan, he's playing with fire to let it happen anywhere. But 1) it isn't my problem but 2) I feel guilty that it isn't my problem, so I walk aways just thinking, should I have done something? and all the while I know I would have passed the drunk by without a pause if he wasn't beautiful leading to more guilt and self accusations and then suddenly I go through a pleasant little street of trees and suddenly I realize, WTF. Wasn't I just this minute in Kabuchiko? Where the eff am I? I was wrestling with my conscience when I should have been paying attention to where I put my feet.
I have 20 minutes to get to the meet-up place and I emerge into the forest of skyscraper "short term" love hotels. OK, it's their culture, and I'm sure it's all well and fine, but I'm not gonna stop and chat and ask directions from people in the district of the love hotels. And it goes on and on, and I have no clue where I am or where I'm going. When I do emerge onto what looks like a street, a lady of about 90 tries to help me with her (not very smart) phone. There's a reason why I don't ask ladies of about 90 for directions. No offense, any of you ladies of about 90 who are reading this, but if you're 90, you barely speak your own language. You cannot give directions in the stupid, confused person's language. You can tell your phone to give directions to the stupid, confused person, but that won't work either, if the stupid, confused person is the lovely and talented Peachfront who can't understand your phone's accent. I finally said I remembered where I was, a pitiful lie, and she knew it, but we'd be there for the next decade if I didn't. Then I sort of dashed forward like I knew where I was going. A young couple next tried to help me and they actually helpfully walked me over to the train station. Very kind, very thoughtful. Trouble is, by this point, and I'm almost ashamed to admit it, I had apparently drifted so far out of whack, that the train station they led me to was the one by my hotel via party night in Korea Town. (I did not reveal this to the helpful young couple, as my stupidity is not their fault.) But here I was, already 10 minutes late, and right where I was at the beginning of the day, only with more crowds. I re-caught the train, re-ran for the East Exit, re-jogged up stairs and down stairs, and emerged at the meet-up spot.
Oh, shit. They'd left.
But no. They were standing off to one side, waiting for our local host. Whew...I still feel guilty that I held up the whole show but everyone was very nice about it. J. saved my ass. S. didn't know he was coming, saw him standing there with C. and rightly figured that he needed to go buy an extra gift. Whew. "I realize that Mary from New Orleans is a very general category but he just didn't look like what I pictured..." as he put it. Smart guy! So he runs off to buy J. a gift, and that gives me time to get there and make my silly explanations for being late. I owe this guy BIG TIME next time he visits New Orleans.
Our host took us to a place where there's like a frying pan in the table top and you cook your own omelet. Wonderbar!!!! There was an ashtray on the table, and he told J. that he could smoke but when S. visited the little boy's room, C. explained to him about the evils of smoking (I'm sure J. never knew before that it fucked with your judgement of chocolate) and our waiter took the lead from the dominant personality at the table and removed the ashtray. So, be that as it may, they drank beer or water, and somehow I'm the one drinking vodka. I don't know how I end up being the bad example of the table but oh well.
There was much discussion about dessert and, again, like I give a flying? Has poker turned me into some kind of high testosterone freak? I dunno. I'm just like, whatever, I don't care, you guys pick the sweets, and there's some discussion of a gelato bar in (I thought) New York yet moments later we were eating gelato in Shinjuku. There was a kerfluffle at the table, where there were no seats for four, just two and two and two. A Japanese kid was sitting at one of the tables where, if he wasn't there, four of us could sit, and he could sit at the table for two. From where I stood, I could see his face, and he was struggling. C. says he was thinking, Do I really have to get up? but I was thinking the struggle was, Do they really want me to get up? Before he came to the thrilling conclusion, C. made a more explicit comment that made it clear he should get up and leave the table for four for us, but the way he said it, the guy's testosterone got fired up and he's all, "I was going to move if you asked me politely!" I really think it's true, and he would have, but he wasn't given enough time, and then his pride got involved. Be that as it may, J. and I are like, why sweat it, it's a beautiful night, let's go outside. And so we did. A gelato tasting, followed by a chocolate tasting. Whew There was some discussion of if we die tonight, are we happy that the last thing we tasted was this chocolate? The guys voted yeah, and I don't know what I voted. The chocolate was nice and all but if I'm dying TONIGHT? A perverted person hanging around checking the legs on Harajuku street is probably not voting for chocolate as her last meal, I'm just saying.
Little Po Beep and the furry dude, though, c'mon, that's just whackadoo. You may call Peachfront weird, but I'm delighted to report that there's way weirder out there. Stay tuned.
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