So, over a year since I promised it, here is a recap of my trip to Japan. I’ve actually written this story several times in the past, but I could never get the tone of it right so I kept deleting it and starting over. A lot has happened since then, and my memory of the trip has faded a bit, but now might actually be the best time to do it. So I hope you’ll follow along as I bumble down memory lane and think back on one of the best trips I’ve ever had.
This trip to Japan had been a long time in the making. Arsenal’s uncle is a journalist and had plans to go to Japan in order to interview someone who had survived the 2011 tsunami. Which I had been in Japan to witness, but I was so far away from it I never really saw the effect it had. The only thing that changed for me after the tsunami was seeing charity drives to help the victims and receiving a string of panicked calls from my mother about how Japan was about to melt in a maelstrom of radiation and political lies.
Anyways, the night before the flight to Japan we ended up staying at Arsenal’s uncle’s place (which was posh as hell). The morning of the flight I got up a little early, took a shower, and started reading through the copy of Oreimo I had brought with me. Arsenal’s uncle took notice.
Uncle: You know Japanese?
Me: Yeah, a bit.
Uncle: Well enough to read right?
Me: About 80%? There’s still quite a few words I have to use a dictionary for.
Uncle: Would you feel comfortable working as an interpreter for me?
Uncle: I have to interview someone in Sendai, if you feel comfortable interpreting I could pay you, you’d have to go home and get a suit though.
Me: I, uh…
Uncle: Yes or no?
I ended up declining. Though I’ve studied Japanese for the past couple of years, I still hadn’t worked up the confidence to interpret, especially when someone’s job was relying on it.
A few hours later we were on a plane to Japan. We arrived at night, and took a train from the airport the hotel Arsenal and his uncle were staying at. I had reserved a room at a hostel a short train ride away from where they were staying. Arsenal’s uncle bunkered down in his hotel room while Arsenal took the opportunity to explore the streets of Ginza. Arsenal fell in the love with the place.
Arsenal: Oh my god, this place is amazing!
Me: Yeah, it’s nice right?
Arsenal: This is my dream city, it’s like everything I think would be great to have in a city is here. I’m definitely coming to Japan next time I study abroad.
Me: Let me know when you do, I’ll come visit. (spotting some vending machines) You want something to drink?
Arsenal: Sure, what is there?
Me: Let’s see…
Arsenal: Banana Ole? Is that any good?
Me: Never had it before, you wanna try it?
(I buy the drinks and hand the Banana Ole to Arsenal)
Arsenal: (opens the cap and takes a drink)
Me: How is it?
For the rest of the trip Arsenal would stop by every vending machine we passed to see if it was selling Banana Ole.
We continued wandering through the rest of the town taking note of the stores and stopping by little stalls to grab some snacks. We ended up getting some donuts at Mister Doughnut and buying some Taiyaki of an elderly guy selling it out the back of a truck. After an hour or two of wandering we had become slightly lost.
Now, you might expect this to turn into another mini-anecdote, but being lost in Japan has never been a problem for me. Not that I have some kind of 6th sense when it comes to navigating in Japan (quite the opposite really) but the abundance of helpful convenience store employees has always made it fairly easy to figure out where I should be going. So a quick stop at a nearby convenience store and we were pointed back towards Arsenal’s hotel. On the way we also spotted some Cabaret Girls escorting salarymen out of their club and into some taxis. Oh Japan.
I parted ways with Arsenal at his hotel and took the subway to Asakusa where the hostel I was staying at was located. I got there after the reception desk had closed, but the ground floor still had a lot of people lounging around. I went up to my room, dropped off my stuff and cleaned up a bit before heading back downstairs. After making small talk with a few people I ended up sitting at a table, drinking shochu, and watching Japanese TV. I struck up a conversation with another person who decided this was also the best way to spend the waning hours of the day. After exchanging the usual pleasantries she told me that she was in Tokyo to take a certification test.
Me: [A test, for what?]
Girl: [I work with dogs] (she mimics cutting with her fingers)
Alright, now I have a question for anyone reading this. What do you think her job is?
If you said Dog Groomer, congratulations! You’re correct. And if you thought she had something to do with neutering said dogs, then you’re as f*#ked in the head as I am.
Me: [Oh, that’s pretty cool…]
Girl: [Yeah, if it goes well I’m going to go to Britain to work!]
Me: [Britain is a nice place, one of my friends really likes it there] (I didn’t know they needed to bring in people from overseas to chop of dog testicles though…)
Girl: [Yeah, it should be fun, I’ll get a lot of experience cutting hair too!] (mimics cutting with her fingers again)
Me: [Oh…oh! Yeah, yeah it should be a great opportunity ha ha ha]
After chatting for a bit the girl excused herself and went upstairs to sleep. I ended up watching a bit more TV and chatting with some of the other people until almost everyone had left. It was almost 1:00 at this point. I was supposed to meet up with Arsenal and his uncle at 7~8 AM the next morning. I excused myself to what remained of the group and lay down in my bed to try and get some sleep. I didn’t fall asleep until 2 or 3 in the morning…
-End Day 1-