Shibuya Night

15 September 2023

a story from when I was in Tokyo back in May of 2023

Mits was meeting up with Sora and his girlfriend so I was alone for that night. I figured I’d go out and do something interesting so I went down to Yoyogi park and walked around a bit. Around dinner time, I made my way back down to Harajuku. Someone, probably Mits, had recommended me Afuri ramen. While eating, I watched these girls and their family. The girls were all dolled up with lots of makeup. Their eyes also looked really big for Asian girls and I couldn’t help but think that they might have plastic under their skin. But I remember them now because they were speaking Chinese with Taiwanese accents, but spoke to the servers in Japanese.

It was still early so I wandered down towards Shibuya. I stopped by in Tower Records and Nitori. I like Ikea so Nitori was great, well, everything great minus the Swedish meatballs.

A few days before, I had looked for foreigner bars to go to, one of which was Bar Tasuichi so I headed down in that direction. Already, there were loud drunk kids yelling in the street. It’s a standing bar, and I stood at the bar, smoking a pack of Camel berry menthol cigarettes from Vietnam. An African guy came up behind me and asked me for a cigarette. I asked him where he was from and he told me but I can’t remember now. He said his brother had got him a construction job in Japan which he had been working for the last few years. I asked him if he knew Japanese. “Just speaking, no reading and writing, I don’t have time for that, man” he said. He was wearing an Apple Watch so I figured he was doing pretty good. After awhile, he told me he had to leave, so I turned to the other guy next to me also smoking. He looked just like a Japanese Salary man. I told him I was from America, he said his English was bad. We talked a bit using Google Translate about Vietnam, baseball, and Shohei Ohtani. While we chatted, a group of Americans came over to the bar. I heard them speaking English and didn’t think too much of it but the guy closest to me, a bald man with sharp features asked me “What are you drinking man?”.

”I’m just having a beer”.

”Oh yeah, that’s what I’m about to get”.

His buddy turned to him and laughed, “His English is better than your Japanese”.

I smiled because they didn’t know I was a foreigner in disguise. “Yeah, that’s because I’m American”.

We laughed together and I learned they were American Navy sailors, in Tokyo for a few nights. One of the servers brought over the beers. He wouldn’t believe that I was 20 so he asked to see my ID. He kept asking me “何歳?” and the bald sailor kept asking me “何歳?” as well. I just looked at them blankly like, dude, I can’t speak Japanese.

”You look younger than 25” the sailor laughed, “must be the tucked in pants”.

I liked his vibe. He was already in his 40’s but he livened the mood in the bar. He kept trying to get girls to dance even though he already had a Japanese girlfriend. After a few drinks, he turned to me and said “Don’t ever let the fire die in you, man. Me, it’s starting to go out, but I’m trying to keep it burning for as long as I can”. I hope I’m still the life of the party when I’m 40.

The salary man left and a girl with colorful makeup and her man covered in tattoos and piercings came to replace him. She spoke a bit of English but he didn’t. That didn’t stop bald sailor man. They chatted in Japanese. I could understand a bit, they were talking about tattoo guy’s piercings. At some point, I picked out おちんちん.

”What’s it called again in English?” he asked me.

”Prince Albert”.

Sailor man was asking his new friend if he’d ever get a dick piercing. It’s funny watching Japanese people get put in uncomfortable situations but sailor man’s vibe was unshakable. Doesn’t feel too uncomfortable if you’re drunk enough.

Soon enough, I finished my drink. I traded my last cigarette to tattoo man for his last cigarette. He had been chain smoking American Spirit menthols and god damn those things were harsh but I couldn’t waste his last cigarette.

As I walked down the street towards the station, I watched a guy piss into a basement doorway as his drunk friends laughed in amazement. Doesn’t feel too uncomfortable if you’re drunk enough.