Tokyo Time: Japanese Greasers and Chance Meetings
After I left Tomoko’s on Sunday, August 23rd, I decided to search for Harajuku. Harajuku is most famous for its eclectic fashionistas wandering the area: people like Lolita Goths, cosplayers, and my favorite–greasers. I really wanted to go on Sunday because that’s when most people go to hang out, but I missed the lolita goths, apparently. (Sad face!) That’s okay. There are some in Fukuoka, and I can take their pictures.
I wandered through Shibuya to get to Harajuku. Shibuya, by the way, is well known for the scramble crossing outside of Shibuya station. Got a few pictures on Sunday, plus several more on Monday.
I managed to not get lost (a miracle!) on my way to Yoyogi Park in Harajuku, mostly because it’s a straight shot from the station. And immediately upon arriving there, I found this lovely group dancing:
These dudes had some great rockabilly-style Japanese music playing in the background and were letting it all out. Their dances were characterized by lots of intense toe tapping (in one of the pictures coming up, you can see the toes of their shoes are covered in black tape to make them last longer, similar to ballet shoes), jumping, hair combing, and even some break dancing. They were extremely energetic and really fun to watch.
I also just really wanted to touch their hair. (I didn’t.) I wonder if it’s as hard as it looks?
Once these slick dudes went for a cigarette break, another group nearby started up.
They had a much more Sandra Dee or Buddy Holly, gosh-golly-gee look to them, and their dances were also much more sedate. The twenty-or-so minutes I watched consisted mostly of line dances with lots of spinning. However, the fashion (the hair! the shoes! the skirts! the lipstick!) still sparkled for me.
Seriously, Japan can be so awesome sometimes.
I went from these guys and wandered through Yoyogi park. The park itself is very beautiful with a great layout. I spotted some Star Wars fanatics practicing Light Saber battles (I’m not exaggerating here, they had on shirts that said “Guardians of the Force” and were twirling and smashing with the best of them. Liam Neeson would have had a run for his money), several folks doing Tai Chi (oh China, I miss you!), and a couple groups playing music.
About halfway through the park, I heard some rap music and lots of emphatic shouting, so I decided to see what all the fuss was about. On my way I spotted some absolutely gorgeous graffiti:
I don’t know if this happens every weekend or if I’m just lucky, but in “B-Ball Park” next to Yoyogi, they were having this big rap festival… thing. There were at least four separate “stages” varying in size for rappers to, ah, strut their stuff? (Look, I’m not up on rap lingo. I like to listen to it, but I’m not really actively searching for more.) The crowds were big, at least compared to what I’m used too–not that hard. There was also some break dancing battles going on, which were freaking awesome. These folks were crazy. I didn’t have that good of a view, but what I saw just blew my mind.
It was here that I had my, ahem, “Chance Meeting.”
Fact of life that on Iki, I’m not exactly being fought over by the men-folk. (They have no taste.) I’ve decided that Japanese men are inherently afraid of foreign women. This is for several reasons:
- Most Japanese men don’t speak English.
- Even if they do speak English, they don’t feel comfortable speaking English.
- They don’t believe any foreigner can speak Japanese. (No, really, they’re always shocked that I can.)
- Japanese people are painfully shy in comparison with foreigners on the whole.
- Japanese men know that foreign women expect them to not be assholes. This means that, a) I will not always cook for them, b) they are not allowed to smoke if they want to date me, c) they have to talk to me during dates, not read.
- Most Japanese men are shorter than foreign women (or around the same height) and they, justifiably, believe that foreign women prefer taller men.
All this combines to me not being able to date men on Iki, as the only available men on Iki are Japanese. And most of those guys are either too young or too old. It’s a hard life.
So in any case, when I was approached by a very nice man named Edmond from Togo (the one in Africa), I expected just harmless flirtation. (Being as I was surrounded by people, I wasn’t too concerned about safety–yes mom, I thought about it. And please, stop being paranoid.) After about an hour of talking, though, this somehow morphed into us falling in love and getting married and me taking him to live the Good Life in America.
Honestly, he was a really charming guy (and a french chef! AMAZING), but I’m not dumb. And, aside from the fact that I knew nothing really about him, I’m not gonna date someone–let alone marry him–if I live 600 miles away. So, in case you were wondering, I said no.
But it makes a good story, I think.
The coolest, most mind-blowing part of this interaction, though, was when he introduced me to his friend Etienne. Etienne is also from Togo, but like Edmond speaks English and French in addition to their native tongue. Having lived in Japan for six years, he’s also fluent in Japanese. And finally, he’s fluent in Chinese.
So Etienne and I started speaking Chinese. In Japan. A man from Togo and a woman from America, in Japan, speaking Chinese.
So random. So totally wonderful. I could barely believe it. Really the epitome of the idea that “The world is flat” eh?
Anyway, after Etienne and Edmond left, I grabbed a jerk chicken sandwich (delicious!), stuffed that down my throat, and then made my way back to the hostel.
A pretty excellent day, all around.
Just two more days to write about. Holy guacamole. 🙂