–Originally written June 4, 2004–
As I watch from the 27th floor, people stumble through Shinjuku on their way home, inebriated and happy. I made my way back from Shuzenji to Shinjuku, in an otherwordly daze as I enjoyed the relaxing effects of the onsen.
For dinner this evening, I had a chance to meet up with a friend of mine, Kien, who lives in Yokohama currently finishing his third year in the JET program and aspiring to be a musician. He’s currently feeling his way around the scene in Tokyo, trying to see what happens and whom he’ll meet while he’s here. We met up in Shibuya and went to a funky place called the “Buttu Trick-Café”, where a giant Buddha statue keeps watch over patrons and they eat and consume copious amounts of alcohol. Flushed with three drinks and food (which was ohishii, I might add), I proceeded to become a little giggly around the edges as Kien and I caught up with one another and some of our mutual friends. Sometime after eleven, we split up, heading back to our respective locales along with the throngs of happy Japanese.
Breakfast today at Kikuya followed a pattern similar to last night’s dinner, with many fish or otherwise unknown courses served. I ate several of the dishes, including the udon and multiple helpings of rice. I couldn’t however, bring myself to attempt once again the grilled fish, despite the pride of the staff. The tofu (I hope) I did enjoy, along with a few other dishes I couldn’t provide a name for. My comfort level was also stretched when I saw (and was seen by) a other naked men at the baths. This was an experience the conservative Puritan ethic did not prepare me for, despite years of watching “R” rated movies, and I’m sure that at least some of the red color in my face as from this, and not just the heat. Regardless, the experience was worthwhile and I would recommend it to anyone looking to experience a more traditional aspect of Japanese culture.
Now that I’m leaving, there’s only one item left that concerns me at all. Quite simply, how in the world can you identify the ages of the Japanese, especially the women? To me, many of them whom are likely my elders appear as though they’re fifteen. And the Japanese seem to have no problem at all identifying one another’s ages. This vexes me as I wander around more than I can express.