‘Nothing happened on Monday. We just got cunted.’ –Dale
I landed at Narita Airport at 3pm and caught the train to Shibuya. There I met my co-workers at our hotel. These are my coworkers here in Japan: Dale (producer), Campbell (owns the mag and the credit card), and Campbell #2 (filmer). They’d gotten in a few hours earlier than me, and were very excited to tell me about all the strained conversations and awkward silences they’d been sharing with the locals. Incredibly, many people in Japan do not speak English and have no interest in learning. As someone who has lived in America for over a decade, I was incredulous.
‘Have you tried yelling?’ I said.
‘Yes,’ replied Campbell, ‘nothing works.’
‘Outrageous,’ I said.
I dropped my bags in my room (literally the smallest room I have ever been in that wasn’t a tent) and then the four of us bundled into a taxi. With a great deal of silent theatre we asked the driver take us to Harajuku where there was an art exhibition we wanted to check out. At the exhibition there was an incident involving Campbell #2 and some chocolate that wasn’t his. We were vibed out and had to leave. Shaken and a little disappointed to not get any chocolate, we went and had dinner at a delightfully claustrophobic little place (an izakaya) where the chef chain-smoked while he cooked. Despite this hygiene bypass the food was very good, as was the sake. A word about cigarettes: everyone is smoking them everywhere here. Everyone. I saw bird smoking one. I’m a non-smoker, so you’d assume this would disgust me, but I’m actually really enjoying it because it feels like the 90s again. I even coughed through a whole cigarette myself, just for the experience of puffing away while a stranger dined–completely unoffended–next to me. After dinner and about a thirty gallons of sake, Dale cut his fingers on his umbrella (it was raining cats and dogs) and we had to buy band-aids and do a little bit of street triage. He was seriously bleeding out and it wouldn’t stop. We wrapped his fingers in an entire box of band-aids, and for the rest of the night he had a big flappy, bloody blob of band-aids dangling from his hand; it was pretty gross.
Then we went for a walk that brought us to a neighborhood with many flashing signs and seedy vibrations. Roppongi it was called. A man on the street said we should come to his bar because it was really cool.
‘Really?’ I said.
‘Yes, yes,’ he said, ‘come with me. I will show you.’
He took us down a narrow side street and ushered us into a coffin-sized elevator. The elevator went up five floors and deposited us, alone, in a plush, coral colored room. A gaggle of scantily clad and extremely tired looking Romanian women emerged and began being very friendly toward us. They were prostitutes. We had been brought to a brothel. None of us were whoremongers, so, after Dale had bled all over the furniture, we jumped back in the elevator and made our escape. Then we got in a cab, did some Whose Line Is It Anyway for the driver, and head for JBS. JBS is a bar in Shibuya with 14,000 records shelved on its walls. The owner operator, Kobayashi-san, made us drinks and flipped records into the wee hours. At about 1am we stumbled back to the hotel. And that was our first day in Japan.
Tomorrow: we meet our translator, have dinner at a restaurant full of cocks, and nurse an all-day hangover!
Read Crombie’s Tuesday/Wednesday diary entry HERE.